This past Saturday in Denver at UFC 135, former champion and Hall of Famer Matt Hughes was knocked unconscious for the second fight in a row. It is out of respect to Matt and as a person who loves MMA that I call for Hughes to listen to his wife, and to quell his competitive spirit and call it quits.
Let me preface this by saying that Hughes looked very good in the early going of his fight with Josh Koscheck. His striking looked crisp, and he appeared to have a solid game plan on how to combat a guy like Koscheck. But the slippage of speed and other physical attributes is very subtle, and it is time to acknowledge that they are there.
He was in against a bigger, younger and stronger athlete, and it was Koscheck who hurt Hughes and took him out. It didn’t look like Hughes was going to take Koscheck out, which forces him to fight for fifteen minutes.
The fight before, against BJ Penn, it was Penn’s speed that killed.
Matt please try to remember that it didn’t use to be that way. Your unbelievable athleticism is starting to fade. I know your skills have widened a million times over, and that you can finish fights still, but I saw a recent interview where you said you wanted that one big KO for the highlight reel. That is unlikely to happen, in fact it is you who have been out the last two times.
Let me repeat my great fear. I don’t want to see MMA turn into boxing, with a bunch of former champions that are still plodding along long after their primes, and doing damage to themselves and the sport. Have you heard interviews with Meldrick Taylor and Evander Holyfield? They are sad and embarassing. Both should have made enough money that they are set for life, yet they continue fighting and honestly neither should receive medical clearance to do so.
Matt Hughes is nowhere near that. But MMA was heading in that direction with Chuck Lidell before Dana White intelligently put a stop to his career.
Matt, use your intelligence, your country boy sensibility. Don’t even let it get to the point where Dana steps in. I know you have made enough money to live the rest of your life comfortably, provide for your family etc. And going out with a win? Your unlikely to beat Jon Fitch, Jake Ellenberger, Jake Shields, Carlos Condit and probably a few others in the UFC welterweight division.
Hughes may never be a damage case like the old boxers, but if he doesn’t ride off now and use his star power to set the precedent, we are almost certain to deteriorate to that at some point. Avoiding that in the sport of MMA should be a top priority.