Matt Hughes: A gateway to today’s MMA

nullWhen I think of Matt Hughes, I am reminded of quote from the classic movie Old School.

“I hate your guts, but damn do I respect you.”

I have never been a fan of the UFC Hall of Famer and former welterweight champion.

He has always been overly critical of other fighters while failing to evolve with the sport himself, in my opinion.

However, as he took to the octagon for perhaps the final time at UFC 135, I have to admit, I felt a little conflicted.

Though Hughes is not even a top 10 welterweight in my eyes, but his accomplishments are undeniable.

He was the longest-reigning champion in UFC history for quite some time and typically finished his fights with impressive submissions or ground-and-pound strikes.

Hughes clearly became a catalyst to today’s MMA and deserves credit for making Georges St. Pierre what he is today.

GSP spent most of his early career molding himself into a fighter that could beat one man, Matt Hughes.

St. Pierre knew he needed the combination of wrestling and striking to best Hughes, because Hughes was so dominant with his grappling.

GSP was one of the first of many well-rounded fighters to evolve into MMA and now, every fighter that enters the octagon is starting to show top-level skills in every area of combat.

Hughes is still Hughes, and he hasn’t been able to develop his striking to compete in today’s MMA. He showed some good boxing early on against Josh Koscheck, but he lacks that knockout power and it eventually led to him losing by KO at the end of round one.

However, there is a reason that the likes of Josh Koscheck, Jon Fitch, Diego Sanchez, and many others have wanted to always fight Matt Hughes. It is because they started their careers looking up at him on top of the UFC mountain.

Just like young fighters are crafting their abilities to someday beat GSP or Anderson Silva, today’s stars were built to beat Matt Hughes.

Hughes changed the face of MMA into what it is today and that is perhaps his greatest accomplishment.

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