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Matt Hughes Inducted Into UFC Hall of Fame

LAS VEGAS – On the list of those men upon whose backs the UFC was built, Matt Hughes sometimes tends to be forgotten. He wasn't the earliest pioneer like Royce Gracie, he didn't have the thunderous power of Chuck Liddell and he didn't impossibly defy father time like Randy Couture.

But Hughes brought his own valuable qualities: stability and success. During the early days of the sport, it was essentially the Wild West. Fighters would come and go from promotions, making it difficult to follow who was where. But starting with his first UFC performance under the Zuffa banner at UFC 34 in Nov., 2001, Hughes would only call the UFC home, and home would be a very rewarding place to be.

All the way along, Hughes was a winner. At UFC 34, he won the welterweight championship. He defended it five times, then recaptured it mere months after losing. His 17 wins are a UFC record. And for his achievements and longevity, Hughes was inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame on Friday afternoon during the UFC Fan Expo at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center.

"I'd like to take this award and cut it in pieces and give it out," Hughes said after a warm ovation from the crowd. "I couldn't have won this award by myself. I definitely give God a big piece, I give my wrestling coaches from high school and college a piece of it. A big piece I would give to the UFC. You don't win an award like this and say you've done it all by yourself. I've got a great family at home. God's blessed me."

Hughes (44-7) has authored some of the more famous moments in octagon history. To this day, if you ask Dana White what his favorite fight of all time is, he'll tell you it was Hughes' second fight against Frank Trigg in April 2005.


White recounted that at the time, Hughes reluctantly accepted the rematch, feeling that it was unlikely he could top the exciting win from their first bout.

He couldn't have been more wrong. In a finish that's gone down in MMA lore, Hughes took an unseen low blow from Trigg, who went for the finish and sunk in a rear naked choke. In a shockingly swift change of momentum, Hughes recovered, escaped the submission try, scooped Trigg up, ran across the cage and slammed him to the mat. Seconds later, he had Trigg in a rear naked choke and completed the astounding comeback. It was just one of his seven successful title defenses over two reigns.

"He really truly has been a great partner and one of the people who helped build the sport and build the UFC to what it is today," White said.

White noted how he's always been able to call on Hughes in a pinch, for example in June '08, when he was asked to face the surging Thiago Alves on short notice because of injuries to other fighters. White said that when matchmaker Joe Silva thanked Hughes for taking the fight, Hughes responded: "Don't thank me. This is my job."

That no-nonsense attitude was typical Hughes. While he stirred some controversy towards the latter part of his career for his feud with Matt Serra, it was relatively tame by MMA standards. Hughes spent most of his career coming into our lives for a fight, winning, and then going back home to be with his family.

Before he finishes his brief acceptance speech, he made sure to thank the people who he's entertained for so long.

"We the UFC wouldn't be here without the fans, there's no doubt about that. The whole Fan Expo going on here, the UFC selling out almost every event. To be honest, it's you guys who sign my checks so I have to take off my hat to you guys."

Hughes gave no indication as to a possible retirement. Though he's made allusions to being in the twilight of his career, he has at least one more fight until then, a UFC 117 matchup against Ricardo Almeida.
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