Matt Hughes started off his fight with Josh Koscheck at UFC 135 Saturday night on the right foot, landing some strong jabs that backed the younger Koscheck up.
But, once the two got in close, it was Koscheck that landed the more powerful blows, knocking the UFC Hall of Famer to the mat before finishing him with several well-placed shots to the head.
Hughes, a former UFC welterweight champion, told those in attendance and watching live that he wanted the UFC to put him on the shelf for the time being. That didn’t mean he was announcing his retirement, but the 37-year-old needed to take some time to think about what was next for him and his family.
“I want to spend time with my family and then meet with Lorenzo (Fertitta), Frank (Fertitta) and DW (Dana White) to see what’s next,” Hughes said. “I’m 37 years old, soon to be 38, and I also want to raise my kids.”
Hughes is 46-9 in his career, but has lost his last two bouts via knockout to Koscheck and B.J. Penn. He seemed to be back on track for a final run towards title contention prior to the past two defeats, as he topped Matt Serra, Renzo Gracie and Ricardo Almeida in succession.
“It all happened pretty fast,” Hughes said. “I threw a big knee and wanted to finish it off with a lot of big shots. I love the fans. Their support has always meant a lot to me. I’ve watched the sport grow from when no one would know be walking in an airport to today, when a 65-year-old grandmother will walk up to me and say, ‘You’re my favorite fighter.'”
If this was the end of the road for Hughes, he exits the sport with 18 career wins in the UFC – a record. He has also defended the welterweight title more times than anyone else with seven successful defenses.