Former longtime UFC Welterweight Champion and UFC Hall of Famer Matt Hughes has been enjoying somewhat of a late-career resurgence. After losing convincingly to Georges St. Pierre (twice) and Thiago Alves (though a decision win over Chris Lytle did break up that losing streak) in the span of four fights, some were calling it the beginning of the end for Matt Hughes. Fast forward two years and Hughes is on a three-fight winning streak (having defeated Matt Serra, Renzo Gracie, and Ricardo Almeida) and set to take on former rival BJ “The Prodigy” Penn in the concluding bout of their trilogy. Speaking with MMAFighting.com, Hughes revealed the source of his continued motivation (and possibly the source for his recent in-cage successes) and what he feels is on the line against Penn.
“I’m going out there and having a good time,” Hughes said of his current approach to fighting. “I just go out and have fun. I try to cut all the pressure away. I’m not going out there trying not to lose. I’m trying to win and having a good time.”
Having lost his title to Penn in a huge upset in their original meeting at UFC 46 back in 2004 and then having defeated Penn to retain his belt two years later at UFC 63, Hughes feels that all the marbles are on the line in their third and final meeting this weekend.
“The way I feel is that if I lose this fight with BJ, it’s like losing three fights,” said Hughes. “And if I win this fight, it’s like wining three fights. It’s the final of the trilogy. There’s a lot on the line. Three fights are on the line for this 15 minutes BJ and I are going to do battle.”
Penn and Hughes will meet this Saturday at the Palace of Auburn Hills in Auburn Hills, Michigan, in a bout that will serve as the co-main event of UFC 123: Rampage vs. Machida.