Mixed martial arts is a strange sport. Consider this truism: Sometimes, despite whatever talent, upward trajectory and championship glory awaits a particular fighter, there is lurking somewhere out in the masses another fighter with just a fraction of the potential who somehow has that other fighter’s number.
Take, for instance, Matt Hughes. We know of course what great heights he reached and what glories he attained – the UFC champ possessed a kind of dominance that was the stuff of legend, and his place in the Hall of Fame will forever be etched in stone thanks to his slams and the way that for the longest time no one could even come close to dethroning him. Yeah, that farm boy from Illinois was great. But for some reason, he could never beat perpetual journeyman Dennis Hallman. In fact, Hughes – who’s beaten the likes of Georges St. Pierre and BJ Penn in his career – could never manage to last more than 20 seconds whenever he and Hallman clashed in the cage.
They first met at an Extreme Challenge event, back when EC was about one of the just five minor league promotions in existence (i.e., 1998). Hallman needed just 17 seconds to ice Hughes with a guillotine choke.
Then came their rematch at UFC 29. Hughes’ star was for sure in ascent back then, while Hallman had yet to establish himself as the gatekeeper he’d forever be. How did things go for the future champ at that bout in Japan? Watch below for the answer, and then marvel at how insane it is that no matter what, Hughes could never figure out a way to beat a fighter most everyone else could dispatch handily.