UFC Hall of Famer Matt Hughes had an MMA career that most could only dream of, but he did make some surprising revelations in a chat with MMA Junkie Radio recently. One is that he almost retired not long after consecutive losses twelve years ago. The other is that his biggest regret was not attempting to claim the UFC middleweight title. First, he explains the brush with possible retirement. Basically, back-to-back losses to Dennis Hallman and Pele Landi-Jons made him feel stale:
"I wouldn't say depressed, but I just wasn't very hip on the fighting."
Despite seven straight wins in 2001 between the Pele loss and his UFC welterweight title fight with Carlos Newton at UFC 34, he figured he would hang 'em up and go back to farming if he lost to Newton. Fortunately for him and his fans, he won that bout in extremely dramatic fashion and went on to become one of the greatest welterweights of all time.
Next up was his biggest regret. Most longtime fans know that Hughes was matched up with Rich Franklin as coaches on The Ultimate Fighter 2. Despite being a welterweight, Hughes wanted to go up to middleweight and unify the titles - but he didn't want to do it against Franklin, who was his friend. If Evan Tanner had beat Franklin at UFC 53 (before the show), Hughes said he would have gone up. But Franklin won and got the coaching spot instead, so the move never happened. Hughes still wanted to do it after that though. When asked who he most wanted to face in his career but never did, his answer was clear:
"Anderson Silva. I always wanted to go up to 185 to put the belts together."
That's interesting in itself too, since Silva was actually scheduled to meet Hughes in a welterweight bout at UFC 36 but The Spider signed with Pride instead. It might seem like a mismatch today, but Hughes vs. Silva in 2002 or even 2006 was thought to have been quite competitive.
Either way, Hughes says he's fully retired and won't be returning to the cage, and his front office position with the UFC is probably proof of that. But it's fun to occasionally look back at the things that could have been.