Not many fighters get to claim the honor of being in the Ultimate Fighting Championship Hall of Fame. Nor do many have their names mentioned among the greatest welterweight mixed martial arts (MMA) fighters of all time.
Then again, Matt Hughes is not like many fighters.
Despite his last two fights not ending in his favor, Hughes has compiled a storied, decorated and legendary career, and love him or hate him, he was one of the very best in the sport during a very important time. Today, in an interview with the Iowa Daily Gate, the former champion announced that he considers himself currently "fully retired" from the sport he helped grow.
Hughes had been "semi-retired" a few times, but this time, it seems to be final pending an official statement:
"I've not announced my retirement, but right now it looks like I'm fully retired. The UFC still treats me well so I can be retired. It's just funny, when God puts you on a road, you don't know where you are going. I have all the faith that he put me there, and I have to thank him for that."
Unsurprisingly, Hughes packs a parachute just in case, claiming that he is "fully retired," but in the same breath leaving the door open just a crack in case he feels the itch or the promotion calls on him in an emergency. Although, currently riding a back-to-back knockout losing streak to B.J. Penn and Josh Koscheck, respectively, there isn't much cache left in the name the 39-year-old fighter built during his heyday.
In addition, there isn't anything at the advanced stage of his career for Hughes to prove -- he's pretty much done it all.
With MMA in the rear-view mirror, Hughes explained some of the things he's been up to in his recent down time. Being an avid outdoorsman and hunter, it's not to hard to figure out:
"I've got a hunting show, which I love, on The Outdoor Channel. I'll stay with the hunting show. I like to travel. I like to hunt, so that suits me well. I'm helping my brother with the family farm. Right now, he is in the combine cutting beans. I still am very close to the family farm."
Hughes also mentioned his occasional MMA training, in the form of helping other friends in preparation for their own fights:
"I do train a little bit. When B.J. or Robbie Lawler need a little help, I'll go and help them train. That's about it. I love to train, but as far as having a gym where you have to live in it, I would rather live with my family. I want to raise my kids more than coaching. I do some stints on coaching, but I've got other things I want to do."
With MMA now a footnote in his life story, Hughes likely looks forward to a comfortable lifestyle doing the things he loves. Maybe you weren't such a fan of him, but there's no doubt that he's earned every penny he has to retire comfortably.
He leaves behind a strong legacy in his division, which will continue to live on in the form of highlight-reel moments against Frank Trigg (twice), B.J. Penn, Royce Gracie, and of course, Georges St. Pierre, his successor to the welterweight throne.
Happy trails, Matt Hughes. Thanks for the memories.