Matthew Allen Hughes (Hillsboro, October 13, 1973) is a mixed martial arts fighter (MMA). He has been a two-time UFC middleweight champion, and has already won seven successful belt defenses in a row. He became a member of the UFC Hall of Fame on May 28, 2010 at the UFC 114 Expo Fan. He has notable victories over fighters like Dave Menne, Carlos Newton, Hayato Sakurai, Sean Sherk, Frank Trigg, Joe Riggs, Royce Gracie , BJ Penn, Chris Lytle, Matt Serra, Renzo Gracie, Ricardo Almeida, and remains one of only two men to defeat Georges St-Pierre.
He is the second fighter with more fights in the UFC with 25, being behind only of Tito Ortiz, that had 26 and holds the record of greater number of fights in the UFC. However, Hughes holds the record for most victories in the UFC with 18, in addition to having been considered the best pound- for-pound fighter between 2001 and 2003. A long-time member of Miletich Fighting Systems, Hughes left the Miletich field in late 2007 to start Team Hughes.
List of best and most known fights:
- Matt Hughes vs Royce Gracie
- Matt Hughes vs Georges St-Pierre
- Matt Hughes vs Matt Serra
- Matt Hughes vs Renzo Gracie
Hughes was born in Hillsboro, Illinois. Hughes has two brothers, one sister and his twin brother Mark. During their high school years they both played football and fought, and also spent time “hitting the other behind the barn” according to UFC commentator Mike Goldberg. Hughes went to college at Southwestern Illinois College, a two-year college located in Belleville, Illinois before transferring to Lincoln College, Lincoln, Illinois, and then to Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois. He made the NJCAA All-American Team, and his last two years he was listed in the NCAA Division I All-American team.
Hughes was a bi- £ 155 IHSA (Illinois High School Association) Class A state champion wrestling. He won in 1991 and 1992 while attending Hillsboro (IL) High School. In addition, Hughes is a two-time Division I All-American wrestler, with a 8th and a 5th place finish in the 157-lb division. During his junior and senior high school years, Matt was undefeated and won back-to-back state championships in the 145 lb class. He had an impressive record in the last 3 years of high school career. In those three years alone, he totaled 131 victories against only 2 losses, both those that came during his first year (second year 43-2, junior 43-0, 45-0 senior).
Hughes already competed in the prestigious ADCC Submission Wrestling World Championship, in which he had a 2-2 record. This consists of victories over Ricardo Almeida and Jeremy Horn and losses of Jeff Monson and Tito Ortiz.
Hughes won his first UFC middleweight world title at UFC 34: High Voltage on November 2, 2001. In the fight, Hughes was caught in a triangle by then-champion Carlos Newton, but he lifted Newton with a “Stake” in the air and hit him on the rug, causing Newton to hit his head and lose consciousness just as Hughes was on the verge of fainting from the stranglehold. After the fight Carlos stated that he felt the reason Hughes fell on the floor was because he was unconscious of the triangle. This was confirmed by Hughes about the review of the tape and can be heard telling his corner after the fight “I was off.”. In his later revenge, Hughes won by TKO when he managed to trap Newton in a submission crucifix position, which allowed him to rain unanswered punches on Newton’s defending face until the referee stopped the fight.
He successfully defended his champion belt several times then defeating Hayato Sakurai, Carlos Newton (in a rematch), Gil Castillo, Sean Sherk and Frank Trigg.
He held the title until UFC 46 when he was defeated by Hawaiian Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu specialist BJ Penn via a killer in the second round of 4:39 of the first round in a fight where he was heavily favored to win. The title was vacated after a contractual dispute between Penn and the UFC.
Hughes regained the vacant welterweight belt submitting Canadian candidate Georges St-Pierre via armlock in the second round end of UFC 50. The fight was very competitive with Hughes able to overturn GSP twice. After recovering the title, Hughes successfully retained in a rematch with Frank Trigg at UFC 52. After being accidentally hit in the groin early in the first round, Hughes looked at the referee for the assist, however, the referee had not seen the accident and Trigg took advantage of the distraction of Hughes with incredible punches. The fight went quickly to the ground, with Trigg ground-and-pounding in Hughes, then attempting a killer. Hughes secured the victory with a killer lion of his own.
Next Hughes fight took place at UFC 56 where he was scheduled to fight with Judo practitioner Karo Parisyan. After Parysian suffered a thigh injury and was unable to fight, Joe Riggs took his place. The fight was originally marked as a title bout, but since Riggs could not meet the weight limit of 170 pounds, it became a non-title fight. Hughes defeated Riggs in the first round by kimura finish. At UFC 60 on May 27, 2006, Hughes defeated Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu legend Royce Gracie in a non-title, catchweight fight completed by technical knockout (punches). Before the stoppage, Gracie was caught in the side mount position armlock, although Hughes seemed to have the submission in place, Gracie did not knock. Hughes stated in previous interviews that he could not get enough of Gracie’s arm to break him, so he freed the position to seek a more dominant position.
In September 2006, Hughes defended his title in a rematch against BJ Penn, stopping him in the third round. Hughes held Penn’s arm and gave about 40 blows to Penn’s unprotected face defenseless, forcing the referee to stop the fight.
On November 18, 2006, UFC 65: Bad Intentions, Georges St-Pierre defeated Hughes by TKO 1:25 of the second round, ending Hughes’ reign. In the first round, Hughes received two involuntary kicks near the groin; after Hughes received the second kick, referee «Big» John McCarthy warned St-Pierre. “The second time I fell, it was not really because of my groin, but it affected my legs more than my groin. I do not know if it’s a nerve thing or what happened.” said Matt Hughes at the UFC 65 post-fight press conference. Coming to the end of the first round, St-Pierre hit a Superman punch. St-Pierre then followed with attacks to his stunned opponent. When it seemed that the fight would be interrupted, the bell rang, signaling the end of the first round. It was in the second round that St-Pierre ended the fight with a kick in the head that surprised Hughes and knocked him to the ground, followed by a flurry of punches and elbows that forced McCarthy to stop at 1:25 of round 2.
On March 3, 2007, Hughes returned to the Octagon for UFC 68 .: Uprising, defeating Chris Lytle by unanimous decision, winning 30-27, all three judges.
Following a win by Matt Serra over Georges St-Pierre at UFC 69, it was announced by UFC president Dana White that Hughes will again be fighting for the World Title Welterweight in November 2007 against Serra. This fight was later changed to December 29, 2007 in Las Vegas, at UFC 79: Nemesis. On November 24, however, Serra suffered a herniated disc in the lower back and had to inform the UFC that he would not be able to compete for an indefinite time. As a substitute for the Serra / Hughes title dispute, the UFC quickly signed a rubber match between Hughes and St-Pierre, who would also be for the Interim UFC Welterweight Belt. Despite his best efforts, Hughes was able to mount any serious offense at St-Pierre, who easily avoided all attempts to remove Hughes, likewise taking Hughes down at will and using Hughes’ own ground-and-pound style against him. Towards the end of the second round, St-Pierre attempted a kimura on Hughes’ right arm that he escaped, but in a reversal of his first fight, St-Pierre was able to twist him into a straight arm wrench with 15 remaining seconds in the round. With his left hand pinned between the ground and St-Pierre’s legs, Hughes was forced to verbally present at 4:54 of the second round. In the post-fight interview, Hughes praised St-Pierre as the best fighter and stated his intention to take some time off and spend with his family.
In the middle of late 2007, Hughes left the Miletich field with Robbie Lawler, former boxing trainer Matt Pena, wrestling and conditioning teacher Marc Fiore to form The HIT Squad in Granite City, Illinois.
Hughes fought Thiago Alves at UFC 85: Bedlam on June 7, 2008. Hughes lost the fight to Thiago Alves due to the referee’s stoppage (TKO) at 1:02 in round 2. After receiving a powerful knee from Alves, he fell on the floor with his own left knee pinned behind his hips, ultimately ripped the MCL and partially ripped the PCL. This was a catchweigh fight, because Alves failed to beat the weight.
In 2005, Hughes and Rich Franklin participated as coaches in the second season of the Spike TV reality show, The Ultimate Fighter. In 2007, Hughes participated as a guest coach for longtime friend and training partner, Jens Pulver during The Ultimate Fighter 5 season.
Hughes agreed to coach again for The Ultimate Fighter 6, alongside former UFC lightweight world champion Matt Serra. Despite the fact that after the preliminary round, Hughes’ team record was 2-6, both Mac Danzig and Tommy Speer of Team Hughes made it through to the finals.
Immediately after Alves’ fight, Hughes claimed that he had “one more fight”, and that he wanted to fight Matt Serra. His rivalry came from the moment Serra was a competitor in The Ultimate Fighter and Hughes a trainer. Serra did not like the way Hughes criticized other contestants on the show, and was disgusted when Hughes disturbed Georges St-Pierre during a lunch break and boasted of his submission victory. On January 9, 2009, Hughes confirmed on his web-site blog that UFC 98 would probably be the day he and Serra met in the Octagon. Hughes won the fight against Serra at UFC 98 by unanimous decision. After the fight Hughes and Serra embraced and ended their rivalry. After the fight Matt Hughes said, “I think I have some more fights.” Hughes posted on his blog, “When the fight ended, I was pretty confident that I was going to get my hand raised.A few people have asked why I raised my hand in the end.In fact I did not, he raised mine, he also told me that, no matter what the decision was, it was done with the rivalry. ”
Hughes signed a multi-fight contract. Hughes defeated Renzo Gracie via TKO in the third round UFC 112, setting the UFC winning record with 17. On May 28, 2010, Hughes was inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame. Hughes defeated student and 3rd grade Brazilian Jiu – Jitsu black belt Ricardo Almeida with an arm wrench at 3:15 of round 1 on August 7, 2010 at UFC 117.
Hughes faced BJ Penn on November 20, 2010 for the third time at UFC 123. Penn came out strong in the opening seconds of the opening round, catching one of Hughes’s kicks and knocking him out with a hook. The duel ended in 21 seconds of the first round, with its trilogy against Penn finishing with 1 victory to 2 defeats for BJ. The fight marked the first time Hughes had been knocked out (he had already lost by TKO). Post-fight Hughes suggested that the loss was a step closer to retirement.
Hughes was expected to face Diego Sanchez on September 24, 2011, UFC 135. However, Sanchez was forced out of the fight with an injury and replaced by Josh Koscheck. Hughes suffered a KO loss to Koscheck at 4:59 of the first round.