In terms of pioneering the new generation of the UFC, few gave more in blood and sweat than Chuck Liddell and Matt Hughes. When Zuffa took over controlling ownership of the UFC in 2001, they were faced with a huge task. Needing to change the image of mixed martial arts from ‘human cock fighting’ to a legitimate sport, the promotion chipped away over many years to become mainstream. In November of 2001 Matt Hughes became the UFC welterweight champion with an iconic slam KO against Carlos Newton.

Going on to defend the title five times in his first reign, Hughes also faced Frank Trigg in one of the greatest 170-pound bouts ever. Regaining the belt in 2004, the Miletich Systems product defeated the greatest welterweight ever in Georges St-Pierre with a submission by armbar. Hughes has the second most welterweight title defenses in the promotion’s history with seven.

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Hughes With The UFC Welterweight Title

Chuck Liddell won the UFC light-heavyweight championship in 2005. Thrilling fans with a trilogy of fights against Randy Couture, a duo of huge knockouts against Tito Ortiz and a classic encounter in Japan against Alistair Overeem, ‘The Iceman’ was renowned for his ungodly KO power. Having defeated many of his fellow legends, Liddell decided to hang up the gloves in 2010. After calling it quits on his fighting career, Liddell was hired as UFC executive vice president of business development.

Hughes went on a few more years, eventually retiring in 2013 after back-to-back knockout losses. He took a job as vice president of athlete development and government relations. Given the fact the UFC finally made it to New York City during Hughes’ reign in his exec position, he clearly did a great job. Apparently there’s no room for either Liddell or Hughes under the new ownership, though.

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Liddell & Hughes Laid Off

Tallying approximately 100 lay offs since the $4.2 billion WME-IMG takeover, MMA legends Chuck Liddell and Matt Hughes are the latest to get the boot.

“The UFC has been great to me,” Hughes told MMA Fighting Friday night. “Times change, and I understand the decision that was made. I will move on. My family and I are fine.

“I do love adventure, and who knows what’s next for me.”

After hearing about two of the most well known champions in UFC history getting canned, it’s safe to say nobody is safe. Where will the axe land next?