9 Options for Matt Hughes' Final UFC Fight

Andrew SaundersCorrespondent IIMarch 1, 2012

9 Options for Matt Hughes' Final UFC Fight

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    Thought Matt Hughes was done? Think again! Despite being in the twilight of his career, winning just three of his last seven fights, and suffering back-to-back knockout losses, Hughes believes that he has more to give to the sport.

    To be honest, I’m not going to tell a living legend no. It’s not as if Hughes has been lacking in skill in his recent bouts. In the opening round of his September affair with Josh Koscheck, he was giving the former-No. 1 contender fits with his jab.

    Clearly, he isn’t 25 anymore; but at the same time, it’s not realistic to expect a 38-year-old man with over 50 professional fights to continue fighting at an elite level. Regardless of his age or the outcomes of his last two fights, if Hughes says that he has another fight left in the tank, then I say we give it to him!

    Here is a look at some potential welterweight options who Hughes should look at for his final fight in the UFC.

Jon Fitch

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    AKA has long accused former UFC welterweight champion Matt Hughes of ducking their top welterweights.  While Jon Fitch was in the hunt for a rematch with Georges St. Pierre, he had plenty to say about the former welterweight kingpin.

    Not a one-directional distain, Hughes doesn’t seem to care for Fitch or his style, as he mocked Fitch's quest for a title shot in a 2011 interview following Fitch’s matchup with BJ Penn.

    "He's got 13 decision wins in the UFC," Hughes said. "Seriously, one of you guys find out how many rounds this guy has fought in the UFC. I've got the most wins in the UFC, but that guy probably has more rounds than I do. He's got more time in the UFC [Octagon] than I do. I'll probably say that. I don't think Fitch is really anxious about a rematch with GSP, but I don't know. And you can't give him a title shot off of a draw with BJ, anyway."

    A bout between these two has been talked about for years. With both guys coming off of a quick KO loss, it looks like the time is right!

Mike Swick

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     “I want to keep moving up, man. I mean, this is my tenth fight in the UFC, I'm 9-1. I want to fight for the title; I want to fight top guys: Matt Hughes, Georges St. Pierre, Thiago Alves, all the great guys."

    After dominating Ben Saunders at UFC 99, these were the words that came from a pumped-up Mike Swick. Swick never got his wish, however. Instead, he was signed on a No. 1 contender's bout with Danish kickboxer Martin Kampmann, who was fresh off of his win over Carlos Condit. That bout also did not happen, as Swick would receive a concussion in training.

    While waiting for a replacement, Swick took to Twitter and called out Hughes once again, stating that he would love to fight Hughes, and that he was just waiting on the UFC to call.

    Both men have had some extended absences, but Swick wants to return to the Octagon. The history between these fighters is there, and Hughes would certainly enjoying teaching the young guys that it might be a mistake to call out a champion.

Matt Serra

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    As a longtime rival of Hughes, Matt Serra nearly finished the Hall of Famer in the first round of their 2009 bout. Although Serra would ultimately lose the decision, it was not without controversy. Many felt that Serra did enough damage in the final moments of the bout to earn the round and the decision.

    At UFC 131, in a backstage interview with Ariel Helwani, Serra hinted that he would like to get back into the cage one last time as he likened himself to Rocky Balboa in the sixth film of the franchise. Does Serra still have the desire to get back into the cage? When asked, he stated that he “still has some stuff in the basement.”

    With such bitter blood between these two, this fight would likely be the last fight for both of these men. It'd be a major fight for both former champions on which to hang their hats.

Diego Sanchez

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    Originally scheduled to fight Hughes last September, Diego Sanchez had to step out of a planned UFC 135 bout when he broke his hand during training.

    As the original winner of The Ultimate Fighter, Diego Sanchez has more in common with Hughes than you might think. Both men have outstanding wrestling credentials. Both men ultimately thank Jesus Christ for their ability to put a hurtin' on their opponents. Both men won 10 of their first 12 UFC bouts. And lastly, both men like to lift their opponents up in the air, run across the cage screaming and then slam them to the mat.

    Sanchez is an aggressive fighter who will push the pace throughout the contest. He is exactly the type of fighter who will show Hughes where he stands in the modern day welterweight division.

Jake Shields

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    Matt Hughes makes it no secret that he feels wrestling is more dominant than jiu-jitsu in MMA. He has taken pride in defeating Gracie fighters, Royce and Renzo, along with BJJ standouts Ricardo Almeida and BJ Penn. Does he have what it takes to defeat a BJJ phenom like Jake Shields, who is still in the prime of his career?

    Although Shields faltered in his time with the UFC, the fact is that he defeated top welterweight Martin Kampmann, outscored Yoshihiro Akiyama and won two rounds against Georges St. Pierre. None of these accomplishments are easy for any fighter.

    Shields would gladly take a fight of this magnitude, as he is struggling to work his way back up the ladder of a very crowded division. A win over a legend like Hughes would be an amazing feather in his cap. The only question is, Can he get it?

Johny Hendricks

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    Is Johny Hendricks for real? After a 12-second KO of perennial No. 1 contender Jon Fitch, Hendricks will try to solidify himself as a top contender in the division when he takes on Josh Koscheck later this year.

    The Fitch fight helped to shine a light on the commonly overlooked welterweight, who now hopes to pick up his 10th UFC win in only 11 fights. Is Hendricks a big enough name to be the last fight on Matt Hughes' resume? Probably not. Is he dangerous enough of a fighter to come out with the win? Absolutely!

Rory MacDonald

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    In the wild, the young lion inevitably takes on the old in an effort to show that he is the new king. Rory MacDonald has been a nightmare for every opponent that he has faced, including current interim champion Carlos Condit.

    With the strength of what appears to be 10 men, MacDonald has thrown around opponents like Nate Diaz, Mike Pyle and Carlos Condit with relative ease. Would Rory Mac be able to do the same to the farm boy who has been around the block more than a couple of time?

    It’s hard to pick a winner here. MacDonald continues to face elevated levels of talent, but he has never fought on the level of Matt Hughes. The closest person on his resume so far is Condit, who inevitably came back to win in the third round of their 2010 contest.

    Many say MacDonald is the future. But in order to prove that, he will have to defeat one of the greats of the past.

Dennis Hallman

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    How sweet would it be for Matt Hughes to end his career with a win over the first man to ever beat him? Not only did Dennis Hallman give Hughes his first professional loss, he gave Hughes his first two.

    In a combined 37 seconds, Hallman has twice shown up the Hall of Famer. In 1998, a 17-second fight ended with Hallman holding a guillotine choke. In 2000, the rematch took place inside the UFC, where Hallman secured an armbar only 20 seconds into the bout.

    While this potential fight may have seemed silly years ago, based on the peaks and valleys of each man’s career, Hallman has reestablished himself as a tough welterweight and Hughes’ stock dropped down to the same level. As they now find themselves on roughly the same rung of the ladder, this may be the right fight to make for Hughes before he rides off into the sunset.

Nick Diaz

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    Is there a more polar opposite to Matt Hughes than Nick Diaz? Hughes is a respectful ambassador of the sport, who is looked up to by young children. Diaz is a drug-smoking, trash-talking punk who would be just as happy to fight you in the locker room as he would in the cage.

    Hughes has had it out for the Gracie’s for years. Along with Jake Shields, Nick Diaz is a top student of Cesar Gracie, and would be proud to defend the honor of his mentor and friend.

    With Diaz appealing his drug suspension, it’s not out of the realm of possibilities that this fight could take place sometime this year. With the way that Nick Diaz represents the sport, I can guarantee you that Hughes would love the opportunity to shut him up.