- DESPITE UFC 85, DON’T PULL THE CURTAIN ON HUGHES

June 9, 2008
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by Ken Pishna – MMAWeekly.com
“I’m 34 years old and I’m definitely not done yet,” Matt Hughes said prior to Saturday night’s fight with Thiago Alves at UFC 85 in London. “I’m still very healthy. Right now, I actually feel great.

“I’ve got two more fights on my contract counting the Thiago fight. By no means am I going to retire before my contract is over and I’m probably not going to retire afterwards. I feel that I have three or four fights left in me.”

What a difference a week makes.

The 24-year-old Alves, at times during the fight, made Hughes look as if he was mired in quicksand. Once a master of hoisting his opponent up in the air and leaving a police chalk line on the canvas following his tremendous slams, Hughes managed only one takedown, that off of an Alves knee to the body, during the 6 minutes and 2 seconds they spent fighting.

Outside of Hughes grounding Alves for a couple of minutes and doing no damage, the rest of the bout was spent with his younger opponent taking every advantage and bloodying Hughes’ face.

The end came early on in the second round courtesy of an airborne Alves driving a knee into Hughes’ lower jaw, dropping him to mat, and following with a left hand that looked like it would have left a dent in the floor of the Octagon.

Hughes obviously isn’t feeling as good as he was prior to the fight, especially with the odd angle he fell across his left leg when the end came. But even moments after the fight had ended, he wasn’t calling it quits. He was calling out rival Matt Serra.

Giving props to Alvez, “He’s a good fighter. He got me. There’s no doubt about it,” said Hughes. He then told post-fight interview Joe Rogan, “I’ll tell you this for sure, I’ve got one more fight left in me. Matt Serra needs to come up with a game plan now. My wife wants it. I want it. And I know these fans want it, too.”

UFC president Dana White has said on numerous occasions, as he did at the UFC 85 post-fight press conference, that he will make that fight happen if Hughes wants it. Even though the volume of Hughes’ tough talk was a little softer at the press conference – he, at times, sounded like a man struggling to make sense of not only the fight with Alves, but also his place in the sport he once dominated – he still didn’t sound as if he were ready to leave his wrestling shoes at the center of the mat.

“I didn’t come to this venue having any kind of a defeat speech memorized. I came here full force to win, to get my hand raised at the end,” said Hughes before adding, “I don’t know what to say about these young fighters that are just as good as they are. GSP and Thiago are who I’m naming here.”

Not addressing Serra with the same verve as he had in the ring, Hughes continued, “A lot of things are running through my mind. I don’t know what to think or to do right now. I know I’m going to get home, see what’s wrong with my body a little bit maybe, and get healthy and then Dana and I will talk about the future for me.”

Hughes made no excuses for his performance against Alves. “He’s a good fighter. He got me. There’s no doubt about it.” And he doesn’t need to make any excuses.

He has held the UFC welterweight title on two separate occasions, defending the belt seven times. His professional record stands at 42-7. He has defeated five current or former UFC champions. In short, Matt Hughes is a shoe-in for the UFC Hall of Fame.

Time may be passing the former champ by, but he is still a prominent fighter in the UFC landscape. He has a marquee bout with Matt Serra left to tend to. It doesn’t have title implications, but it has drawing power. It is a fight fans want to see.

And Matt Hughes is still a fighter that fans want to see.

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