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With The Pressure Off, Matt Hughes Is Focused On The Fun

UFC Hall of Famer Matt Hughes has been enjoying a late-career resurgence of late, bouncing back from decisive losses to Georges St. Pierre (twice) and Thiago Alves with victories over Matt Serra, Renzo Gracie and Ricardo Almeida. Now, the former UFC Welterweight Champion is set to conclude a trilogy of fights with BJ Penn this weekend at UFC 123, and the 37-year old recently revealed that he is having as much fun as he’s ever had fighting. (Props to Sherdog)

“Cutting the pressure out has made it a lot more fun. All in all I’m just having a great experience when it comes to fighting,” said Hughes. “I’m going out there to win and to have fun as opposed to fighting not to lose.”

Including the bout against Penn, Hughes will have competed three times this year and the Hillsboro, Illinois native is enjoying the increased activity.

“I’m liking the activity. In the past, I’ve taken a long time off between fights,” said Hughes. “This year has been good for me because I’ve stayed in shape. I don’t spar every week if I don’t have a fight coming up. At 37, I have to slow down and train a little smarter as opposed to training harder.”

Going along with his new no-pressure mentality, Hughes isn’t attaching big expectations to his current string of successes; opting instead to get enjoyment from the competition and let the rest play out as it will.

“If Dana comes to me and says they want me to make a run at the title, then that’s fine. When presented with a title shot, I think anyone would jump at it,” said Hughes. “But the way I see it, I’m set. I’ve never been a guy to chase the record books. I’m just looking to have a good time and compete. When [my career is over], I’m sure I’ll miss it. But when I retire, I don’t think it’ll be because I don’t like competing. It will be because my heart and mind aren’t in it.”

UFC 123 takes place at the Palace of Auburn Hills in Auburn Hills, Michigan and will feature a main event bout between former light heavyweight champions Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida.