Rumors have been floating around for weeks now that Matt Hughes is considering a return to The Octagon, however none of them have materialized in the form of an announced matchup.
While it is possible Hughes is content spending that time with his family instead of training, it is clear that the desire to compete is is still there.
The bigger question is: what matchup would be enticing enough to turn that desire into action? Is it a rematch with an old foe or a test against a young and hungry fighter? Maybe a fight with a fellow veteran or an even matchup against a wrestler.
What ever the true answer is, here are 10 possibilities that Joe Silva and Dana White could make a reality, if Hughes were tempted to fight again.
While this fight makes almost no sense as far as rankings and Dennis Hallman has since made the move to lightweight, Matt Hughes does have two losses to Hallman from the early days of each fighters career.
Hughes has stated in the past that he doesn't have any desire to rematch Hallman, especially since there last fight was over 10 years ago, but the thought about watching two veterans in a rubber-match would give anyone pause to consider it.
Let's just hope Hallman wears appropriate fight gear.
Photo Credit: ESPN
Rick Story, like Matt Hughes, is on a two-fight losing streak, and despite going on a six-fight tear which included wins over Thiago Alves and Johny Hendricks, Story will need a big fight against a big name to prove he is still relaveant in the division.
It is likely Hughes would be outmatched by his younger opponent, but a win would prove he still has some gas left in the tank.
A loss would probably send him into permanent retirement, but at least the UFC would be able to capitalize on Story's success and resurgence in the division.
The Ultimate Fighter 7 winner, Amir Sadollah, has had mixed success during his UFC tenure. Despite wins over DeMarques Johnson and Phil Baroni, every time he strings together a couple wins and earns a shot against a top competitor he comes up short.
A fight with Hughes would help determine if Sadollah can work his way back up the ladder or be forever stapled as the divisions go to journeyman fighter.
Hughes would also benefit from defeating a younger opponent with notable name recognition or lose knowing he fought a tough veteran of the UFC.
Yoshihiro Akiyama will make his welterweight debut at UFC 144 against Jake Shields. A fight with Hughes would make sense win or lose (assuming he's not cut after a loss).
Both are very popular veterans who only deserve to fight other popular veterans, and since Hughes is in a position to essentially pick and choose his fights, why not take one against the international super sensation that is Sexyama!
Of course this matchup is mostly dependent on the outcome of UFC 144, which leads up so our next opponent...
Jake Shields doesn't need the win as much as Akiyama at UFC 144 to keep his job, but he does need it to prove he can still be a viable contender in the division.
A loss will send this former Top 10 pound-for-pound fighter further down the ladder, and the main card. Which will leave him in dire need of a big win over a big name opponent.
Enter Matt Hughes, who like Shields has good wrestling and solid submissions. Both fighters are pretty even in wrestling and Shields has the edge on submission. But the one thing he doesn't have is knockout power and world class ground-and-pound, two things Hughes does possess.
The one guy who needs a win more than anyone else in the UFC, Dan "The Outlaw" Hardy has been actively campaigning for a fight with the UFC Hall of Famer.
While Hardy may think a past-his-prime Hughes is the perfect opponent to get his career on track, the former UFC Welterweight Champion is a skilled wrestler and grappler, which are the two areas Hardy is most vulnerable to.
Photo Credit: ESPN
Mike Swick is a popular fighter who is riding a two fight losing streak and hasn't stepped foot inside the Octagon in two years. Needless to say it's time for him to get healthy and make a statement in his return.
A Hughes vs. Swick matchup would give Swick the opportunity to prove he is still relevant in the division, and Hughes would get the chance to welcome him back before sending him back into hiatus.
Photo Credit: Cage Potato
This is a fight that was already supposed to happen once and should happen again. When Diego Sanchez had to pull out of there scheduled UFC 135 bout, Josh Koscheck was ready and willing to step up to the plate.
But just because Hughes was knocked out by Koscheck does not mean Sanchez would do the same. Sanchez has a fast-paced, high-endurance style, but lacks knockout power and would be at risk of getting dropped by the older Hughes.
If Sanchez loses his upcoming fight with Jake Ellenberger, then there will be nothing holding this fight back from happening.
Longtime rivals Matt Hughes and Matt Serra finally met in a non-title bout at UFC 98. The fight would go to decision and earn Fight of the Night honors.
Since then Hughes has competed twice as much as Serra, with Serra not setting foot inside the Octagon in almost a year-and-a-half.
While Serra is believed to be semi-retired and focused on training up and coming fighters, this is one matchup that could easily bring both fighters back to competition.
Photo Credit: UFC
Matt Hughes and Royce Gracie, two UFC Hall of Famers, previously met at UFC 60 where then-champion Hughes won a one-sided affair against the UFC legend.
In doing so, Hughes let the masses know that a new era of MMA had begun, where the only people able to compete at the highest levels of competition would be those that had superb strength and conditioning and were well-rounded in striking, wrestling and grappling.
Despite the fact that a rematch would likely go very similar to there first encounter, which is a statement only further vindicated by Renzo Gracie's performance against Hughes at UFC 112 in Abu Dhabi, this is still a fight that Royce wants, Matt would easily accept and most of all fans would pay to see.
It is also the only fight on the list where Matt Hughes is likely to suffer little to no damage from strikes, which would make his wife happy, allowing her to agree to let him fight again.
Besides, we haven't seen Royce compete since his controversial win over Sakuraba in 2007, and the only thing people love more than a rubber-match is a comeback. This fight delivers that from two ends of the stick, and that's the bottom line.
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