Matt Hughes backtracks on retirement, talks career and today’s ‘softer’ fighters

Esther Lin for MMA Fighting

Despite recently claiming that he was 'fully retired,' Matt Hughes unsurprisingly now reveals that he has yet to fully close the door. The former champion and UFC Hall of Fame inductee details his current status in MMA, as well as gives his take on today's 'softer' fighters pulling out of fights because of injury.

At 39 years old, Matt Hughes hasn't closed the door on his mixed martial arts (MMA) career just yet, event though the nine-time Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) welterweight champion recently revealed it looked like he was "fully retired" from the sport.

Not having competed since UFC 135 -- a first round knockout loss to Josh Koscheck back in Sept. 2011, which marked his second consecutive defeat -- it seems there is no better time than the UFC Hall of Famer to call it a career. He has, after all, pretty much accomplished anything and everything possible in the sport and helped the UFC become what it is today.

However, as with anything you love in life, it is simply too hard to walk away from something you have been doing for so long. And fighting for a living is no different. Currently at a crossroads, Hughes is having a hard time tying a ribbon around his illustrious fight career.

Hughes recently talked about his current situation, touching on the on what he feels is the cause of some many injury-related fight cancellations on today's (Oct. 22, 2012) edition of "The MMA Hour."

Here's a snip:

"I wouldn't say I closed the door on my MMA career, but I got my hand on the door handle. It's been over a year since I fought and I am having a good time with my family and raising my kids. Which I think is a bigger thing than me competing, making sure my family is raised right. I'm having a good time at home with my family and I kind of maybe lost the desire a little bit to compete. I'm not retired yet, but, it is looks like that is the way I am going. He (Dana White) has expressed his opinion about me and says I have nothing to prove, and you know, for Dana to say that it means something because I think he is taking my best interest at heart. I still think he can make some money off me, put me on a card. But, he is looking past the financial things and saying, 'Hey, you've been here for a long time and your good to go and can retire.' With him talking like a father and not a businessman, it really lets it sink in a little deeper than it would the other way. My wife, of course, says I need to retire and have nothing left to prove. I just had another birthday, I'm 39 years old and I don't recover the way I used to, I'm not as quick as I used to be, I'm probably not as strong as I used to be. It's funny, for the last 10 years, I've been getting older and my opponents kept staying the same age."

Competing in MMA for more than 13 years, Hughes has had his share of injuries along the way; however, the farm-strong fighter says those injuries weren't so bad that he had to cancel a fight. Comparing fighters of his generation to those of today, Hughes feels the current crop of athletes are simply "softer" when talking about the recent plague of injuries:

"I haven't figured out why there are so many injuries now than when we were going. Eight years ago, we were training everyday and we were training hard and we just didn't get injuries. I don't know why. In the day, Miletich had a bunch of great guys. Jeremy Horn, Jens Pulver, Robbie Lawler, me, Pat Miletich, and a bunch of guys that you wouldn't even know their names. We were busting each others heads everyday and we just weren't getting the injuries like nowadays. I haven't figured out why that it is. People are making decision differently. I don't ever remember coming into a fight 100-percent. After a fight was over, my bumps and bruises came from training. If I trained properly, typically, the fight went pretty easy. I always felt the guys in my practice room were tougher than my opponents. I do think a lot of these guys are getting a little softer to where, if they are not 100-percent, they are going to call off the fight. And there have been several fights, and I think Chuck Liddell would say the same thing, there are several fights when your just not 100-percent and these guys today have to be 100-percent or they're not going to compete."

Anyone agree with the former 170-pound kingpin? Are some of today's stars "softer" when compared to the legends of yesterday?

And do you think Hughes should go ahead and call it a career once and for all?

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