After another stunning loss, Matt Hughes may have just exposed himself as a fighter past his prime. Like the Mike Tyson of old, facing Hughes warranted courage just to step in the octagon, but the aura & mystique have long since passed. Matt Hughes has lost three of his last four fights, and none were even close contests. A 9-time welterweight champion, Matt’s contribution to the UFC, and mixed martial arts are unquestioned. His future in the sport is what many are pondering.
Steve Cofield makes some good points that perhaps it’s not so much Hughes being old (if 34 can be called old), as it is 2008 debuting a better breed of MMA fighters. I have watched Matt Hughes fight many times, and his powerful takedowns were absolutely impressive. In his last bouts, the other fighters have been faster, their takedown defense better, rendering Matt Hughes as a mere mortal.
In this new age of MMA, the best fighters are pushing the limits of the sport. It’s simply not striking vs grappling anymore. The longevity of a fighter and his (or her) success depends on a complete set of MMA skills not just a specialized mastery of techniques.
After the fight Matt Hughes called out Matt Serra giving way for perhaps his last MMA contest. It begs the question, with so many talented MMA fighters out there, what audience is going to pay to see these two fighters both coming off significant losses?
Personally, I think Matt Hughes is up to the challenge. Time will tell if he feels the same way.