|There have been times that I have watched fighters and been impressed by their form, their art, their force. But never had I watched a fighter that left me totally speechless with their demonstration of freakish strength. Not until I met Matt Hughes.
Matt Hughes hit the UFC scene in 1999. I can still recall his first few fights where he exhibited he was a new force to be reckon with. He was like an anaconda on his opponents. A highly trained wrestler with early career highlights that include being a two-time Illinois state high school champion, a high school All-American, and four-time
collegiate All American at the Eastern Illinois University, once Hughes got his hands on you, it was highly doubtful that he would let go. Hughes stumbled across UFC when his buddy suggested he try it out. He started out with small cage fights but was quickly recognized as a good up and coming fighter. He would highly impress judges and fans when he would show his upper body strength by picking up opponents and slamming them down on the mat with ease.
Hughes quickly climbed the UFC ladder, having only three losses in his entire UFC career thus far. It was no surprise when he became UFC World Welterweight Champion.
But his loss to BJ Penn during UFC 46 would plague Hughes for years. He was chosen to be a team coach for the Ultimate Fighter Season 2 with his nemesis, BJ Penn, leading the opposing team. Hughes showed he had finally earned his place at the top when he faced a living UFC legend, Royce Gracie, and came out victorious with a TKO in the first round. Hughes had little time to celebrate, he remained focused for his rematch with BJ Penn, which took place as the headlining fight for UFC63. Towards the end of Round 3, Hughes would rise victorious again with a TKO on Penn. It seems the Champ was back and in full force.
Then appeared the three letters in the alphabet that would hurt Hughes, GSP.
Perhaps he was feeling very comfortable at the top, but the match between Hughes and Georges St. Pierre would be the end of his reign. Hughes appeared to be winded and unfocused, basically being man-handled by GSP. He would lose by TKO at the beginning of the second round. Leaving the ring, he appeared more disappointed in himself rather than beaten. It would be almost five months before the world would hear from Matt Hughes. He returned to the octagon for UFC68 with a unanimous decision over Chris Lytle. There is still a long road ahead for Hughes to recapture his title. And a new crop of up and comers hitting the scene. Pound for pound, Matt Hughes still remains a force to be reckoned with in UFC. Those who doubt it will soon learn there is no escape from the farmboy from Illinois.
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