Matt Hughes has never been mistaken for the quiet type. So it's fitting that even as the sun sets on his Hall of Fame career, the former UFC welterweight champ remains heavily involved in the sport that built him, working with a non-profit organization to admit mixed marital arts into the Olympics and offering his services in the construction of a UFC judging academy that would train officials and refine judging criteria for today's modern game.
Throw in managing the family farm and supporting four children and a loving wife, and Hughes' plate is usually full. Nonetheless, the 39-year-old legend found time to recently appear on The MMA Hour, during which he discussed everything from criticism of his hunting practices and his feud with Dan Hardy, to Georges St-Pierre's inability to finish opponents and why fighters today are "getting a little softer."
The following are excerpts from what developed into an extremely engaging conversation.
On the UFC's current injury epidemic:
"I haven't figured out why there's been more injuries now than when we were going. You know, eight years ago -- boy, that's a big number -- we were training everyday, and we were training hard. We just didn't get injuries, and I don't know why.
"I would have to say that people are making decisions a little differently than we used to. I don't ever remember coming into a fight 100-percent. After a fight was over, my bumps and bruises came from training. If I trained properly, typically the fight went pretty easy. I always thought the guys in my practice room were tougher than my opponents. But we had a great room. And so, I do think some of these guys are getting a little softer, to where, hey, if they're not 100-percent, they're just going to call off the fight. There's been several fights, and I think Chuck Liddell would say the same thing, several fights where you're not 100-percent. You're just not 100-percent. And these guys today have to be 100-percent or they're not going to compete."
"I think everybody ought to step in there the way they are. Steroids, testosterone; I just think everybody ought to go in natural. I really do. So, (laughs), this testosterone or anything, GBH, whatever else they've got, these guys have got growth whatever it is, they ought to just lay off of it. I think everybody just needs to be who they are and step in there. I know I could get a lot of heat from some other fighters, but I've never taken anything. Protein, maybe Creatine Monohydrate when I was younger, but, I've never taken anything that wasn't at GNC stores ready to go into a shaker and drank into your body."
If there's anyone else left he'd like to fight:
On his feud with Dan Hardy:
"Well, I haven't figured it out. The only thing I know is that somebody said something to Dan about me hunting. Dan's original reply was, ‘Hey, the guy's got his own life. Let him do his own thing. I don't care. If he wants hunt, that's fine, but I'm not a hunter.' And then, all of a sudden, it turned. I think Dan, he found an angle and now he's an anti-hunter. I don't know Dan. I don't think I've ever talked to Dan. Maybe I've seen him live. Maybe I haven't. But I don't know the guy. From what I've read about him, and I'm talking about what he's put on my Twitter, he's just a kid. Maybe he's trying to find an angle, trying to fight somebody. But, personally, I don't think I've done anything to him. He's just a kid."
On Rory MacDonald versus his friend, BJ Penn:
"[MacDonald] is good. Very good. I give it to BJ, because BJ will fight anybody. He just will. I've never heard of him not wanting to fight somebody. He comes up with some interesting match-ups, and this is one of them. If I was BJ's coach, and he had five people on a list to fight, this is one of the names that I would probably cross off and say, ‘Hey we don't need to fight him. Let's worry about somebody else that's a little bit better match-up for you.'"
On criticism of his hunting:
"They can think whatever they want. But as far as, by the law, I'm right. You can't see anything in the Bible [that says I'm wrong]. By the law and by the Bible, I've not done anything wrong. And if I haven't conflicted with either one of those, I can live my life the way I want to. That's my answer.
"When you go to Africa, I had to pay to shoot these animals. But, when you kill an animal, you get the hide and the horns. All the meat stays with the outfitter and it feeds the people there. So I wasn't entitled to any of the meat."
On his to trip to Africa:
"I shot six animals: kudu, gemsbok, eland, red hartebeest, black wildebeest, blue wildebeest. [My son] shot a kudu, gemsbok, zebra, impala, and bushbuck. So, we had a great time. It was a great bonding moment. He's 13 years old, so of course he's never going to forget this. And he can't wait to go back to Africa sometime."
On Georges St-Pierre:
"Georges and I get along fine. He's a good guy. We've got each other's cell number in case we ever need anything. We've chit-chatted a little bit through text. Great guy. ... My one criticism with Georges is, I wish the guy would finish more people, because I know that he has the ability to. He's the best guy I've ever fought, and I just wish he'd go out there and do that to everybody else, the way he made me feel in his two wins. I'm not being mean, I'm just being very honest. That guy's got so much talent. By gosh, go out there and use it all.
"I think he's just very careful. He doesn't want to lose, which of course, nobody does. You know, the more effort you put into finishing the fight, the more you open yourself up to be finished. Matt Serra is a great example."
On who the greatest UFC welterweight champion of all-time is:
"Well, Georges beat me twice."