Back when Matt Hughes was dominating the mixed martial arts (MMA) world and running roughshod over the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Welterweight division, the paydays weren’t as big as they are now.
Perhaps because during that era, the sport of MMA was more about the competition and not the almighty dollar. These days, however, it seems getting bank has taken precedent, according to Hughes, which is why he is glad he competed when he did and didn’t have to deal with all the “money-hungry” fighters solely focused on getting paid.
“I am so glad that I competed with the UFC when I did. It’s just not the same anymore. It was all about a family back then,” Hughes said during a recent appearance on The MMA Hour.
“When I won the title in 2001, the UFC had just been bought earlier that year by the Fertittas and Dana. So, they were just new to it and it was just a great deal for me, and now it’s just not that way,” he added.
“And I don’t mean to talk bad about the fighters and I’m not going to name anyone specifically, but it just seems like they are just in it for the money. And they are all kinds of money-hungry it, seems like,” said the former champion. “Back then, me and the rest of the guys, we were just in there to compete. We just loved it and the money was second and now it seems that the money is first and competition second.”
Indeed, requests for “big-money fights” have been the norm over the last few years, with some fighters going as far as bowing out of proposed bouts because the numbers on their contracts weren't right.
That turn of events, however, was to be expected after MMA became a full-blown (and worldwide) spectacle that now draws big time sponsors and TV deals.
This massive transaction also had a lot to do with the demand for pay, too.
That said, Hughes — who stated he was always paid well by UFC — is more than ready to step into the new era of MMA — albeit against a fighter his own age — and perhaps reap the benefits of the new pay scale that comes with it, as well.