UFC 135 Fight Card: Top 5 Moments Of Matt Hughes' Career

Mark PareCorrespondent IISeptember 24, 2011

UFC 135 Fight Card: Top 5 Moments Of Matt Hughes' Career

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    Matt Hughes is a legend in MMA and in the UFC. He has had the second most fights in the UFC, behind Tito Ortiz.

    Hughes has the most career UFC wins with 18 and will be looking to make it 19 against Josh Koscheck at UFC 135.

    Looking back, Hughes has had his ups and downs, but if it were to end after this next fight, Hughes has nothing to be ashamed of, as his career has been storied, with him going down as one of the best Welterweight fighters of all time.

    Let's venture through the career of Hughes and highlight the top five moments of his career.

5. Defeating Matt Serra, Showing He Still Has Some Fight Left

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    After a storied run as a two-time UFC welterweight champion, Matt Hughes fell into a slump, losing three of four fights between November 2006 and June 2008.

    Granted, two of those losses were to Georges St. Pierre, and Hughes was never in a losing slump that bad in his MMA career. After his loss to Thiago Alves at UFC 85, Hughes said he had one fight left in him, and it was one he wanted against Matt Serra.

    The two developed a rivalry on T.U.F. 4 while Serra was a contestant, and Hughes came in for a visit.

    Serra was vocal when Hughes started to criticize the cast and brag about submitting GSP at UFC 50.

    They were originally supposed to fight at UFC 79 after the conclusion of T.U.F. 6, which Hughes and Serra were coaches, but due to an injury to Serra, Hughes fought St. Pierre instead.

    The rivalry was finally settled at UFC 98, when Hughes defeated Serra by unanimous decision.

    The reason that this is one of Hughes' best career moments is because despite a losing skid and saying that the Serra fight was his one fight that he had left, Hughes decided to press on and continue his MMA career, stating that he had some fights left in him, marking a renewed fighting spirit that some think Hughes lost after his loss to Alves.

    He signed a multi-fight deal with the UFC after the Serra bout.

4. Taking Down a Legend (UFC 60)

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    Then-welterweight champion Hughes took on a legend in Royce Gracie at UFC 60 in May 2006.

    The Gracie family is famous for their jiiu-jitsu and Royce, himself, established the ground game in the UFC during the first events. He still holds the UFC record for submission victories at 11, and these victories were all established during his UFC 1, UFC 3 and UFC 4 tournament wins.

    Hughes came into the fight on a four-fight winning streak and earned three straight first-round submission victories before he ran into the legend of the sport.

    The fact that Hughes controlled the fight on the ground shocked the crowd that gathered in the Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA.

    Hughes prevailed, using wrestling to control Royce, and if it wasn't for the stubbornness of Royce not submitting to the armbar that Hughes put on, the fight would've been stopped, but Hughes proved that he can think quickly.

    He released the armbar and eventually got Royce's back and delivered bombs, which prompted referee "Big" John McCarthy to stop the fight.

    This fight was ranked No. 96 in the "UFC Ultimate 100" list of the greatest fights of all time.

    Even though Hughes was ranked the best welterweight in the world at the time, a victory like this was huge for him.

3. Defeating Georges St. Pierre, Winning Welterweight Title

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    Going into his fight with Georges St. Pierre, Matt Hughes was a former welterweight champion and was facing one of the fastest rising stars in MMA.

    St. Pierre admitted that he was a little intimidated by Hughes and what fighting him represented. St. Pierre said that he didn't even look at Hughes when the referee brought the two to the center of the Octagon to touch gloves.

    The title was vacated by then-champion B.J. Penn after a contract dispute.

    Winning this fight meant Hughes can rebound from the toughest of losses and persevere.

    It was St. Pierre's first loss in his MMA career, and Hughes began a welterweight title reign that lasted two years, including two successful defenses and two non-title fight victories.

    The first of which was against Joe Riggs, who didn't make weight for the originally scheduled title fight, prompting the fight to be contested as a non-title bout.

    The second was against Royce Gracie, which was highlighted in the previous slide.

2. Unseating Carlos Newton, Becoming Champion for the First Time

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    Everyone remembers their first time, in MMA and in life.

    For Matt Hughes, he got his first crack at UFC gold at UFC 34, against Carlos Newton.

    The fight was stopped after Hughes slammed Newton on the mat, after Newton caught Hughes in a triangle-choke.

    The slam caused Newton to hit is head and be rendered unconscious, causing the stoppage and Hughes to be crowned the new champion.

    What made this victory so remarkable was the fact that Hughes was at the point of unconsciousness himself.

    Proving that the win wasn't a fluke, Hughes later defended the belt in a rematch with Newton at UFC 38 in July 2002. Hughes finished Newton with strikes to the face that Newton couldn't defend, due to Hughes trapping his arms in a modified crucifix position.

    That win was in the midst of what would be another two-year reign as champion by Hughes, before losing to B.J. Penn at UFC 46 in January 2004.

    A fighter really does remember a couple of specific things. Their MMA debut, their first major title win and what is on the next slide.

1. UFC Hall of Fame Induction

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    The UFC Hall of Fame is an exclusive class of fighters who have defined the sport and paved the way for the fighters of today and tomorrow.

    Matt Hughes joined that class of fighters in May 2010, joining the likes of Royce Gracie, Ken Shamrock, Chuck Liddell and Randy Couture.

    When you get to look back at a storied career, Hughes really was one of a kind. He defeated legends, won world championships on multiple occasions and compiled UFC records that define the excellence that Hughes represents to this day.

    Actors have the Lifetime Achievement Award but professional athletes have the Hall of Fame, and when you make it, your name is forever put in the annals of history.

    The Hall of Fame defines Hughes' hard work and everything he has done in his MMA career.  It is the culmination of everything he did and that recognition is the top moment in Hughes' career.

    Will he make another moment against Josh Koscheck at UFC 135?

    What do you think?

    Mark Pare is a Featured Columnist. You can follow him on    Twitter and don't forget to check out his sportswriter page.

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