The Top 5 Matt Hughes Moments in the UFC
Still recovering from a horrific accident, former UFC fighter Matt Hughes has had many great moments in his Hall of Fame career.
Updated: Aug. 15, 2017 • 3:45 PM ET
Matt Hughes (left) has had several big fights in his MMA career.
UFC Hall of Famer Matt Hughes has miraculously emerged from a coma to show new signs of life. The 43-year-old former welterweight champion was injured in an accident on June 16, during which a train struck the truck he was driving, according to Illinois State Police. The collision caused a severe head injury, resulting in Hughes falling into a coma until last month.
Yet, Hughes’ close friend Tony Zucca released a picture of himself and the former fighter on his Instagram account on Sunday with the following message:
“I can't even describe the emotions I am feeling as I write this post. Less than two months ago I didn't know if my best friend was going to make it, and tonight we made a jail break for sushi (in disguise. Ha). Talk about a rollercoaster of emotions! His progress is nothing short of a miracle. He is working so hard and fights through the frustration. He is, as he's always been, an inspiration. I can't wait to hit the mats with him again...and he told me today that he has "one more round" left in him! Ha. (He laughed...but definitely wasn't joking!). Thank you for all of your prayers! Please keep them up as he still has a long road ahead of him. I am witnessing the power of them firsthand! So thankful!”
With Hughes now on an encouraging path to recovery, let’s relive and celebrate his top 5 moments in the Octagon.
5) Matt Hughes vs. Georges St-Pierre at UFC 50
This was the first of two meetings between these fighters for the vacant welterweight title. Many considered the then 23-year-old St-Pierre the representative of the next era of welterweights and a great threat to the 31-year-old Hughes.
Early in the fight, Hughes scored a giant slam on St-Pierre, who countered moments later with a spinning back kick to Hughes’ ribs that hurt him badly. Hughes managed to protect his ribs from any further strikes and damage, showing his incredible ability to recover from punishment, which is something fans grew to love. Later in the first round, Hughes scored his second takedown and ultimately trapped St-Pierre in an armbar that forced the Canadian to submit in the final second. The victory once again gave Hughes possession of the welterweight title and after the fight, St-Pierre said the loss was “the best thing to happen in his career.”
4) Matt Hughes vs. Matt Serra at UFC 98
The two fighters had a bitter rivalry, and their dislike for one another was no secret. The rivalry began in 2005 when Serra took exception to Hughes’ actions on Season 2 of “The Ultimate Fighter”, which later spilled over to Season 4 when Serra was a contestant and eventual winner of the show, and Hughes was a guest coach. The two finally settled the score in an entertaining back and forth fight in May 2009.
After an accidental but dangerous clash of their heads in the first round, Hughes was badly hurt but weathered the storm in typical Hughes fashion, not allowing Serra to finish the fight. In the second round, Hughes used his outstanding wrestling skills to get the fight to the ground and control the action. Both men traded punches and takedowns in the third round, earning them Fight of the Night honors. In the end, Hughes took a unanimous decision victory and bragging rights over Serra. After the fight, the two embraced in the middle of the Octagon and raised each other’s hand, putting a close to their rivalry.
3) Matt Hughes vs. B.J. Penn at UFC 63
Hughes was originally supposed to fight Georges St-Pierre in a rematch, but St-Pierre was forced to withdraw from the fight due to a groin injury. Penn willingly stepped in, as he was the only fighter to defeat Hughes in Hughes’ last 12 fights at that time.
Penn seemed to cruise through the first round, but later said he suffered a rib injury late in the second round during a scramble to take Hughes’ back. Hughes took advantage of the injury in the third round by getting Penn to the ground and controlling him in a crucifix position. With Penn tied up, Hughes landed repeated punches to a helpless Penn, forcing the fight to be stopped. Hughes became the first fighter to finish Penn inside a UFC Octagon, which was his only victory over Penn in three fights, and the fight earned Fight of the Night honors.
2) Matt Hughes vs. Carlos Newton at UFC 34
Hughes’ historic come from behind win against Newton at UFC 34 gave him his first UFC welterweight title of his career. In the second round, Newton sank in a triangle-choke on Hughes, but Hughes lifted Newton in the air with the choke still applied and slammed him to the ground. The slam forced Newton’s head to hit the ground, knocking him out. Hughes himself was on the verge of going to sleep due to the choke, and the slam came just in time. Footage later revealed Hughes telling his corner that he was “out” due to the choke, and the slam may not have been as intentional as it appeared. The slam, though, is considered one of the greatest knockouts in UFC history.
1) Matt Hughes vs. Frank Trigg at UFC 52
The rematch with Trigg was Hughes’ first title defense since winning the welterweight title for a second time. The animosity between the two was no mystery, and Trigg played into the beef by blowing Hughes a kiss in the Octagon before the fight.
Hughes won their first fight in convincing fashion, and many expected the same result in this fight. Less than a minute into the first round, though, Trigg accidentally hit Hughes in the groin, which the referee didn’t see. As Hughes looked for unanswered assistance from the referee, Trigg landed a flurry of punches that staggered Hughes.
The fight went to the ground, where Trigg continued to land punches and eventually sank in a rear-naked choke. After roughly a minute of choke attempts, Hughes broke free, picked Trigg up and carried him across the Octagon, slamming him to the ground. Hughes landed shots on the ground and returned the favor by sinking in a rear-naked choke of his own, forcing Trigg to tap.
The fight is considered one of the greatest comebacks in UFC and MMA history, and it was Hughes’ third Tapout of the Night bonus in his career.
MMA fans across the world wish the Hall of Famer continued success on his road to recovery, and their thoughts and prayers go to Hughes and his family.