Former longtime UFC welterweight champion Matt Hughes had strung together what many saw as an improbable three-fight winning streak before running into old rival/new friend BJ Penn at UFC 123 last year.
Penn put a halt to Hughes’ late-career renaissance, knocking out the country boy in twenty-one seconds in the first round. That defeat wouldn’t push the 37-year-old to hang up his gloves though, as he eventually signed on to face the fearsome Diego Sanchez at UFC 135 this September.
Speaking at a fan Q&A prior to UFC 132, Hughes explained his mentality at this stage of his career: he’s looking for intriguing fights and isn’t concerned about getting back to the belt.
“I’m at that stage right now where I’m taking interesting fights,” Hughes said. “I had the belt. [St-Pierre] has beaten me two out of three times. Nobody wants to see a fourth fight between him and I, so I’m just going to take it easy, fight interesting fights, and that’s it.”
In Sanchez, Hughes sees an opponent that not only piques his interest, but also that of the fans and a fighter that won’t shy away at all between the first and last bells.
“What I like about it is I think it’s a fight the fans will want to tune into,” Hughes said. “Diego, mentally he’s tough. He’s going to come to fight all three rounds. You don’t have to worry about Diego going away after the first or second round. Striking, takedowns, submissions, he’s pretty equal all the way around. Of course, if he gets on top, that’s where he really shines. I just think it’s a good matchup.”
Sanchez, who’s only been stopped once in his career, by BJ Penn, will provide a stern test for the UFC Hall of Famer — one which he assures he’ll be prepared for.
“I think it’s going to be a good fight,” Hughes said. “I would love to stop Diego. He’s not easy to stop. That would be great. It’s going to be tough, though. He’s a gamer. You’ve got to be prepared physically and mentally.”