by Ken Pishna – MMAWeekly.com
As soon as the fight was over, the speculation began. Is this the end for one of the most dominant champions in UFC history?
The way that Georges St. Pierre dismantled Matt Hughes at UFC 65, it seemed a valid question. The way that he was dominated, should Hughes attempt a return against St. Pierre, and does he deserve it? If not, does he become a gatekeeper for the welterweight division?
One glance at the last five years of Hughes’ efforts answers both questions. The latter first: Hughes does not belong as a gatekeeper to the division. Over said five years, he has dominated, save for two bouts – the recent loss to St. Pierre and a loss to BJ Penn more than two years ago. It would do neither the UFC nor Hughes’ legend any good to have him knock off the division’s contenders working for a shot at the title.
But does he deserve a rematch? Again, and most assuredly, of course. And the same argument holds strong. In his last 21 fights, Hughes has lost only twice – to Penn and St. Pierre – defeating the likes of Carlos Newton, Hayato “Mach” Sakurai, Frank Trigg, BJ Penn, Royce Gracie, Sean Sherk… the list goes on.
Frank Trigg, beaten twice by Hughes, said recently on MMAWeekly Radio’s SoundOff, “Even if he gets his butt kicked again and loses for the second time in a row, he’s still an ‘A level’ fighter,” and deserves that rematch.
The question in many people’s minds is still, “What will Hughes want to do after such a devastating loss?” Hughes answered that question in a recent blog post on his web site: “I’ve already talked to the UFC about getting a rematch sometime and they said that’s fine. I don’t know when that will be or if I will fight anyone before that, but I anxiously await a rematch with Georges because I just think I can do so much better.”
Although he is surely disappointed, it seems that Hughes has suffered no lingering affects from the loss, either physically or mentally. Hughes said, “For those who might be worried about me, I’m fine. I’ve got some color to my face – a black eye and a few scabs and bruises – but this is not one of those things where I have to go out and ‘redeem myself’ so I can look myself in the mirror. I just got beat by a guy who was better than me that night and I can live with that. Even with a loss, I can’t be anything but thankful for all that God has done in my life.”
Belt or not, words of a champion.