One of MMA’s all-time greats is considering returning for one more fight.
In a recently surfaced interview with Joe Buck, Matt Hughes shared that he has been in talks regarding a return. He did offer a qualifier. “If I could find an opponent that I could definitely beat, I would go again,” he said.
Also noteworthy is that indications are that if Hughes were to return, it would be for Bellator, not UFC. Ariel Helwani’s report on the interview disclosed that “multiple sources” say that Hughes has had discussions with Bellator to fight for the promotion and a potential opponent could already be lined up.
“The guy I’m talking about fighting may have been in this chair,” he told Buck. Gracie appeared on the same “Undeniable with Joe Buck” show earlier this month.
Hughes and Gracie fought back in 2006 at UFC 60 and set what was, at the time, UFC’s pay-per-view record of over 600,000 buys. Hughes won the bout easily by first round TKO.
Hughes, who held the UFC Welterweight Championship over two reigns from 2001-2006, has not fought since September 2011, a first-round knockout loss to Josh Koscheck. His prior fight to that was also an early knockout loss, that time to B.J. Penn in November of 2010.
Hughes retired after the Koscheck fight and took a front office position with UFC, but was let go late last year amidst a storm of cost-cutting from new owners WME-IMG.
If Hughes were to return, he would bring with him a 45-9 professional record and be turning 44 in October.
Hiscoe’s Analysis: I’m not crazy about the idea of Matt Hughes returning whatsoever. He’s well into his 40s and the sport has evolved immensely since his run at the top. Hughes’ strength was his wrestling, and that’s a skill that diminishes with age, and while it’s still arguably the most valuable tool for a mixed martial artist, it takes more than just wrestling to stay competitive in 2017. I also don’t like the way he told Buck he’s approaching his return. If he only wants to return to fight someone he “could definitely beat,” then what’s the point? Especially if it’s Royce Gracie, someone he beat handily 11 years ago. There really isn’t any bad blood there to necessitate a rematch, and he’s only risking embarrassment if he loses to an even older Royce Gracie. If you compare Hughes’s approach to returning to Georges St. Pierre’s, it’s night and day. GSP said he’s returning to make history and take on new challenges while feeling he’s better than ever. Hughes, on the other hand, apparently just wants an easy win, either for the fun of it or for the payday. I hope this doesn’t pan out.
THURSDAY NOTEBOOK ITEMS…
-Dana White appeared on “Conan” Wednesday night and told host Conan O’Brien “I do think it’s gonna happen,” when asked about Conor McGregor taking on Floyd Mayweather in a boxing match.
-Dana White also spoke with TMZ and said that both Nick and Nate Diaz have been offered fights and have turned them down.
–UFC has announced events for Glasgow, Scotland on July 16, Rotterdam, The Netherlands on Sep. 2, and Gdansk, Poland on Oct. 21.
-The BBC has released a short documentary covering weight cutting practices in MMA. It’s available on the BBC Three YouTube page.
FIGHT ANNOUNCEMENT ROUNDUP
-Steve Kozola vs. Jake Roberts at Bellator 175 on March 31 from Chicago.
-Noad Lahat vs. Lloyd Carter, also at Bellator 175.
Watch Jimi Manuwa make a statement against Ovince Saint Preux.
(MMATorch’s Daily News Digest features the top story of the day with added analysis, plus smaller tidbits in the News Notes section. Mike Hiscoe, who writes the News Digest Sundays through Thursdays, has a background in film criticism and previously wrote for the DVD Town and Movie Metropolis websites. His passion for Mixed Martial Arts goes back to 2005, but it was in the promotion for UFC 60: Hughes vs. Gracie that he really got hooked.”This is my house, I build it,” is still among the all-time great UFC promos. You can follow Mike on social media under the tag @mikehiscoe. He now provides his experienced writing and perspective on live MMA events for MMATorch.)