UFC Hall of Famer Matt Hughes was knocked out brutally for the second straight fight, and in the aftermath of UFC 135 it seems as if most people want the MMA legend to finally hang up the gloves for good.
Matt Hughes' retirement has been a long time coming, as he's been talking about retiring for years. Even before his second fight with Georges St-Pierre, Hughes was already saying that he thought he only had a few fights left.
More recently, Hughes has admitted that if the choice were his wife's, he'd be retiring.
Despite all that, it is this writer's opinion that even if Hughes isn't ever going to be a top contender in the UFC again, there's still plenty of good fights out there for him.
Why Fighters Need To Retire
When Dana White expressed a desire for Chuck Liddell to retire, it wasn't because Liddell was losing. It was because Liddell was showing obvious signs of physical and mental deterioration. Liddell has always been a man of few words, but in his later years his speech became more slurred, and his once famously rock-solid chin was crumbling.
This isn't the case with Hughes. Yeah, he's been knocked out, but he's not showing the kind of physical deterioration that was evident with Liddell, he seems mentally clear and, unlike Liddell, Hughes' game never revolved around his chin anyway.
Why Matt Hughes Is Losing
In his last three losses, Hughes has fought three opponents famous for knockout power and stellar defensive wrestling.
Josh Koscheck was a NCAA D-1 champion.
BJ Penn is so hard to take down that even former heavyweight champion Randy Couture said that he had difficulty taking Penn down.
Thiago Alves is good enough at defensive wrestling that Koscheck couldn't get him down when they fought.
These kinds of fighters didn't win because Hughes is getting old. They won because they're tough matchups for Hughes stylistically.
Most fighters don't have nearly as strong wrestling as these three, or knockout power for that matter, so I fail to see how losses to these three shows that Hughes couldn't be competitive in the welterweight division.
Plenty of Interesting Matchups Remain
Interesting matchups left for Hughes include a fight with Diego Sanchez, Hughes' original UFC 135 opponent before Sanchez pulled out due to injury.
Dennis Hallman might not be a relevant name, but a lot of fans still want to see Hughes try one more time to beat the man who has submitted him twice.
Aside from these fighters, there are even more relevant fights available for Hughes, if he's looking for a real challenge.
Nick Diaz is seen as an elite welterweight, but given Hughes' wrestling and dominant top-position grappling, I think that's a surprisingly winnable fight for him.
Hughes Doesn't Want To Retire
If Hughes was overly concerned with holding the belt again, that would be a problem.
Chuck Liddell's insistence upon fighting top guys who could get him back into title contention basically sealed his fate.
Matt Hughes isn't in that boat though. He's been happy these past few years fighting against well-known opponents regardless of the title implications.
If Hughes wants to keep fighting, and he's content in finding opponents that are a little less daunting than BJ Penn or Josh Koscheck, there's no reason why he shouldn't.