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Posted on September 26, 2011 by Jack Thurman
Matt Hughes hasn’t been a factor in the UFC’s welterweight division for years now. In fact, he hasn’t really been a serious contender since he was bludgeoned into unconsciousness by Thiago Alves in 2008. He should have retired at that point, but the UFC served him up a diet of substandard competition that allowed him to go on a three fight ‘winning streak’ and allowed the promotion to bill him as a viable competitor.
Following his second first round knockout loss in as many fights, the UFC fanbase won’t be quite so easy to fool this time around. Josh Koscheck bided his time for much of the first round on Saturday night in Denver and was never in any danger as he overwhelmed Hughes with strikes near the end of the frame for a knockout victory at 4:59 of the first round. As is usually the case with Hughes, he hemmed and hawed after the fight about his future plans when it has been evident all along that he should have hung it up after Thiago Alves beat him like a red headed stepchild several years ago.
Hughes’ style doesn’t ‘age well’. He’s always been the type of competitor that would out work and ‘out tough’ his opponents much in the same way that Randy Couture did for many years. At some point, however, the opponents’ youth is too much to overcome with tenacity alone. Unlike a knockout specialist who always has a ‘puncher’s chance’, a competitor that relies on what Joe Rogan has made a cliche “imposing his will” on an opponent becomes little more than a punching bag as he reaches the end of his career.
The result is what we had on Saturday night–a well past his prime competitor putting himself at physical risk against a younger adversary. The UFC should have never made this fight, nor should they have made the fight with Hughes’ original opponent Diego Sanchez. This is a classic example of the UFC brass at its most cynical. Dana White likes to pretend he’s the majordomo of mixed martial arts and that he ‘calls the shots’. Yet when he’s asked about continuing to book fights involving over the hill fighters like Hughes he just shrugs his shoulders. Hopefully he won’t be as noncommittal when Zuffa needs to step in and support a Hughes or a Chuck Liddell after they suffer diminished physical and mental faculties due to the promotion allowing them to fight well past the point of safety.