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Old 11-13-2012, 02:59 PM
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Default BJPenn.com Exclusive: Matt Hughes

Exclusive Part 1: Matt Hughes on Retirement, Dana White, Miletich and Fights with BJ & GSP




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Before the UFC started to break into the mainstream and became as popular as it has become today there were a few superstars who led the charge and helped keep the sports head above water. You had Chuck Liddell, Randy Couture, BJ Penn, Tito Ortiz and welterweight kingpin Matt Hughes.

There are so many great highlights of Hughes efforts inside the Octagon. His bouts with Frank Trigg, Georges St. Pierre, Penn, Carlos Newton and others will be remembered for a very long time. Hughes utilized a powerful wrestling base to become one of the most dominant UFC champions in the history of the organization.

We last saw Hughes in September of last year where he battled perennial contender Josh Koscheck at UFC 135. Hughes hasn’t officially retired, but in his heart and his mind he believes he has fought for the last time. He’s always been a company man and allowed his bosses to make his fights and that’s not about to change. After achieving a ton of success, the 40-year-old Hughes is content to walk away and move on with his life.

“I’ve been doing some training, I love lifting weights and rolling around with the local guys,” said Hughes. “I’m trying to stay fit and I’ve never been a big scale guy, I go by what the mirror tells me. As far as fighting is concerned there is nothing on the docket for Matt Hughes as far as I know of. Dana has said I don’t need to fight to prove anything and that I really don’t need to fight at all. I’m not retired, but I don’t know if I’ll get the nod to fight again.”

“The UFC hasn’t said anything to me about fighting anyone. There’s nothing that I’ve seen or heard on my own that would interest me in fighting either. Some people think that fighters make the fights, but they really don’t know what’s going on. Dana White calls me up, tells me who to fight and that’s who I fight. I’ve never called Dana up and said I wanted to fight a particular fighter, that’s not how it works. When Dana calls me I’ll answer the phone and he’ll tell me what’s going on.”

The way Hughes looks at is pretty simple, White has always been good to him and to the sport, in fact he marvels at how connected and dedicated the UFC President is with all of the organizations fans. Hughes also respects how willing White is to make the fights the fans truly want to see.

“Dana White is really the best when it comes to his fans, there are times when I’ll do autograph signings and I’ll get tired and I’ll tell the fans that it’s time for me to go,” Hughes admitted. “I’ve never seen Dana turn down an autograph request. He always takes time to talk to everyone and when someone tells him they are a huge fan, Dana will go over to that person and sign as many autographs as he can. I always tell people if you want a fight to happen you need to tell your friends and put it on Twitter. Tell Dana you want to see so and so fight and if enough people do that, Dana will want to make the fans happy, he’ll make the fight. That’s the best way to go about it, if it’s a legitimate match-up of course.”

Hughes was part of the Miletich Fighting Systems team based out of Bettendorf, Iowa for the majority of his 14 year career. Head coach Pat Miletich was one of the first coaches to incorporate the use of various martial art disciplines. MFS operated long before gyms like American Top Team, Tri-Star and Jackson’s were even thought of. The amount of talent that was under one roof was extraordinary even by today’s standards.

“Pat was one of the first guys to try and combine everything under one house,” said the Hillsboro, IL native. “He was a pioneer when it came to combining a wrestling background with striking and submissions. We were the powerhouse in the US if not the whole world, I don’t know of any other gym that had the athletes that Pat had on his team. You had a group of world champions with Jens Pulver, me, Tim Sylvia, Pat and then you’d have guys like Rich Franklin and Dave Menne come in to train. That’s not to mention Jeremy Horn and a handful of other guys who were phenomenal fighters. All of these guys were successful because Pat put the right group of people together.”

If his career did end in the Pepsi Center in Denver, Co last September, Hughes can hold his head high knowing he fought the best of the best and always gave every fight everything he had. He’s fought a who’s who of world champions and will go down as one of the top five welterweights of all time. With 54 career fights littered with championship bouts and great moments, Hughes explained who he believes his toughest opponents were.

“I would definitely go with GSP and BJ Penn,” Hughes said without any hesitation. “You have two guys who both beat me twice and beat me decisively. I always say my biggest win was when I beat BJ (UFC 63) because he defeated me and I was able to overcome the mental block of him beating me. BJ always gives everyone a great first round and he did, but I was able to beat him after that. That was a big victory for me I got my title back and facing BJ again.”
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Old 11-13-2012, 03:01 PM
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Exclusive Part 2: GSP vs. Condit, GSP vs. Silva and BJ vs. Rory MacDonald



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The welterweight division has had its share of dominant champions, Hughes included. Georges St. Pierre is the latest champion who has defeated everyone the UFC has put in front of him. After suffering through a dry spell where there weren’t many legitimate contenders it looks as though the division is on a huge upswing with guys like Carlos Condit, Martin Kampmann and Johny Hendricks leading the charge. It seems as though GSP has a lot of formidable opponents on his docket as he returns from knee surgery including a unification bout against Condit at UFC 154.

“GSP has a tough fight coming up against Condit on the 17th, but if he has got his timing down I think he will get his hand raised that night,” predicts Hughes. “I’m not sure what Condit can do to have his hand raised, I don’t know what kind of game plan he can come up with. To be honest with you I don’t think Condit has the necessary tools to beat St. Pierre.”

“There are a lot of good guys that are going to give Georges fits when he fights them. Two things are going to start wearing on GSP, number one, mentally he’s going to get somewhat bored being the champion. It’s not going to be as challenging to him anymore, mentally he has to stay sharp. Physically when you train at a gym like Tri-Star you beat your body up. It becomes an everyday routine and you have to learn how to spice things up. GSP is going to continue to get older, it happens to all of us, with all of that he has to go to the gym and try to be a better fighter than he was before.”

Talk of GSP facing some of the newer contenders might be a moot point at this time because the UFC is looking to book GSP in a super fight against middleweight champion Anderson Silva. In fact the UFC will have Silva sitting cage side and may bring him inside the Octagon should GSP defeat Condit. Fans are split on who they think will win should the two champions square off. Hughes is very familiar with GSP and has his own thoughts on the potential match-up.

“I really believe if GSP and Silva fight Georges will have his hand raised,” Hughes said confidently. “I have a lot of respect for Georges having lost to him twice. GSP is not a great wrestler, but he transitions so well from striking to wrestling that he will be on Silva’s legs before Anderson even knows what’s going on. I believe Georges is that quick and I don’t think Silva will be able to do a whole lot with Georges on top of him.”

“Georges is going to be in great shape, he always is and I don’t think Silva would be able to use his weight advantage on GSP to try and tire him out. If anyone will get tired I think it will be Silva because he’s not going to be in the positions he wants to be in. Georges will put him in some bad situations and I think GSP will do well in the fight and walk away the winner.”

“If I was Georges I would tell the UFC if they want to make this fight between the two of them they should contest it at 185lbs. and Silva should put his title on the line. If Georges is going to fight Silva he might as well add the additional weight and try and get a belt out of the deal. That’s the way I would look at it, the price for me would be an opportunity to unify the two titles. I just wonder how long GSP would need to get his body prepared to make the move to 185 would it be a year off. It would be interesting to see how much time he would want. I wonder how hard his cut to 170 is, if he’s having a hard time then maybe it’s time to move up to 185.”

Another one of Hughes’ rivals, BJ Penn is preparing to make his return to the Octagon after a 13 month layoff when he faces a protégé of GSP’s, Rory MacDonald at UFC on Fox 5 in December. Some are labeling this match-up as the old guard vs. the new guard or the grizzled veteran vs. the hungry young lion. Having faced Penn three times as well as having trained with him, Hughes is able to offer some interesting insight on what we can expect come December 8th in Seattle.

“It all depends on which BJ Penn shows up,” Hughes said. “I’ve been following him a little bit so I know he’s in shape and he’s looking great. If the right BJ shows up he’s going to be the one who gets his hand raised. If BJ shows up and gasses after the first round or halfway through the second then he could have some problems. One thing I’ve always said about BJ is he will fight anybody. It doesn’t matter what weight class they are in, he’s fought Machida, BJ will fight anyone. If you challenge BJ you’re going to get a response back.”
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Old 11-13-2012, 03:47 PM
CAVEMAN1 CAVEMAN1 is offline
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Cool! Great article! I have to say I'm bummed that I might never get to see Matt grace the octagon again. But as he put it, getting older happens to all of us. Being I'm in my 40's, I understand exactly what he's saying. Time is the enemy!

With that said, in my book.........Matt will always be the best welterweight of all time!
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Old 11-13-2012, 04:53 PM
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Originally Posted by CAVEMAN1 View Post
Cool! Great article! I have to say I'm bummed that I might never get to see Matt grace the octagon again. But as he put it, getting older happens to all of us. Being I'm in my 40's, I understand exactly what he's saying. Time is the enemy!

With that said, in my book.........Matt will always be the best welterweight of all time!
Except for the "being in my 40's" bit, I agree with all this!
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Old 11-13-2012, 05:10 PM
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Originally Posted by VCURamFan View Post
Except for the "being in my 40's" bit, I agree with all this!
It's OK. I get it enough for both of us.
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Old 11-13-2012, 06:30 PM
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A great exclusive
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Old 11-14-2012, 12:01 PM
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Great article. thanks for sharing it. A lot of great info there. Thanks Matt for your contributions in so many ways to my life.
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Old 11-14-2012, 02:31 PM
rearnakedchoke rearnakedchoke is offline
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i really hope they make gsp and silva ... i concur with matt's assesment ... and thanks for posting
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Old 11-14-2012, 05:21 PM
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Thought matt was 39
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Old 11-14-2012, 08:42 PM
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Originally Posted by TENNESSEAN View Post
Thought matt was 39
I caught that too! He is.
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