Well it’s finally over. Another legend set in stone, another career ends and another pair of gloves hung up for good. The two-time UFC Welterweight champion and hall of famer Matt Hughes is officially moving on to the next stage of his career.
Suffering a first round KO loss to Josh Koscheck in his last fight at UFC 135 in Denver, it seems Hughes has had enough. Maybe his body has had enough or he didn’t have anything left to offer or maybe it’s a combination of the two. Many of may have been expecting such an announcement at some point, but given the delay in Hughes’ decision, it was rather unexpected.
With that said, don’t expect to see Hughes straying very far from the organization any time soon, seeing as he’s been offered a position within the UFC as its Vice President of Athlete Development and Government Relations.
After making an official announcement Dana White was questioned about the Hughes’ future, to which he had the following to say:
"He's not going anywhere. Matt's been with this company a long time. He's been successful inside the Octagon, outside the Octagon, he's been a very loyal guy to us. You guys always hear me talk about, when we were building this company in the early days, it was like the Wild Wild West back then. It was hard to explain, but there were always a few guys I knew I could count on, and Matt Hughes was one of those guys.
"Matt Hughes never said no to anything. Fighting anybody or doing whatever he needed to help build the sport and build the brand. His new role with the UFC, he's no longer the welterweight champion, will be the Vice President of athlete development and government relations."
Retirement wasn’t the only announcement that was made however. Zuffa COO Lawrence Epstein also had some information to share regarding a new UFC code of conduct regarding fighter relations and behavior in and out of the octagon:
"It really isn't something that's new. It's something that frankly was never put in writing. Our athletes need to live up to high level of conduct and make sure that everything they're doing obviously inside the octagon and outside is applying to the high standards of the UFC.
"We took a look at the sports landscape, and took a look at what the major sports leagues like the NFL, MLB, NHL, etc., and looked at what some of associations are doing. The UFC relationship is that of an independent contractor, it's not a relationship like the NFL where they're employees of the teams. We looked to some of those organizations which have similar legal models. What we discovered is that those organizations had an individual for what they call athlete development."
As Vice President of Athlete Development Hughes job will also include overseeing the implementation of this code of conduct.
"The role of that person first and foremost was to be a mentor. To keep guys out of trouble and keep them from making mistakes that could affect both their career and could tarnish image of mixed martial arts and the UFC. We took a look at our roster of athletes and in particular those who built the sport, which is what Matt has done. We also took a look at the record of those individuals, and I think Matt Hughes' record, not just as a fighter but as an individual, is second to none."
Addressing the announcement from a personal perspective Hughes had the following to say:
"It's funny the road God puts you on, you just don't know where you're going to end up. What started out as a hobby brought me to the UFC and here in front of you now. I love this sport, and the new position is the best way for me to stay in it moving forward. I look forward to using my experience to provide perspective to both the UFC and the fighters."
And what better individual to oversee the behavior, conduct and morality of the UFC’s fighters than a man so morally bound to his faith and his respect for others. Not that religion plays a factor in one’s morality, but rather is a reflection of the good behavior he’s exhibited and the manner with which he’s conducted himself over the span of his career. I can’t remember a single situation where Matt Hughes spoke out of turn, talked trash or offended any of his opponents. Fitting then, that the UFC would select him for the position.
Hughes ends his career with a record of 45-9 as one of the most dominant welterweight fighters of all time. MMA Fighting's Ariel Helwani had a chance to speak with the former champ regarding the announcement. Check it out in the video below.