Matt Hughes is highly-regarded as the best 170-pound fighter in the history of the UFC. He is a future hall of famer, and a legend in the sport of MMA. He has a phenomenal 42-6-0 professional MMA record, including an 18 fight win streak. A former UFC welterweight champion, Hughes holds notable wins over BJ Penn, Georges St. Pierre, Frank Trigg, Royce Gracie, Hayato Sakurai, and Sean Sherk.
Matt graciously took some time out of his 3-a-day workout regimen to let us at MMAFrenzy.com pick his brain. One observation I made in compiling the interview was that the Matt Hughes portrayed on The Ultimate Fighter 6, on which he acted as a coach opposite rival Matt Serra, was the Matt Hughes I was talking with. Hughes is who he is, there was no sugar coating, and there was definitely no holding back. However, he was the complete opposite of what many MMA fans believe about him: He was extremely nice, respectful, and showed confidence, but not cockiness.
Curtis Clontz: Thanks for letting me take this opportunity to ask you a few questions. I know you are a busy man, and donâ€™t have a lot of time so lets get right into it. First off, congrats on your successful book and tour. What was the most memorable moment of the tour?
Matt Hughes: It would probably be here in the Midwest, seeing some of the fans from out here in the Midwest was great, probably the best thing about the book was thinking back and reliving some of the stories that I had, that was a lot of fun.
Curtis Clontz: The H.I.T squad looks great, are there any future champs under your training at the gym?
Matt Hughes: Weâ€™ve got some good guys there, some real good guys! Matt Veach and some new guys that people may have never even heard of, and also some former UFC veterans like C.J. Fernandes. There is just a bunch of guys there and we are trying to build them the right way, we are not trying to rush anybody, so yea I think we definitely have some future champs, but there is no one that is going to step into a title fight right now or anything like that. We are trying to work on some basics. As every coach knows basics wins fights.
Curtis Clontz: In the Ultimate Fighter series you were able to coach fighters into the finale. What is more enjoyable for you, coaching a fighter to victory or fighting your way to victory?
Matt Hughes: Well, it is probably coaching to be honest. It is just a lot of fun to see somebody over the reality show that progresses and get better. You know Tommy did great and he did exactly that to get into the finals. He got better throughout the show and beat some tough guys to get into the finals, it just feels great to have that happen and see the guys perform to their standings and perform where they should be.
Curtis Clontz: Many of the readers that will be viewing this interview are amateur fighters just getting started in the sport. Are there any training recommendations that you can provide for young fighters or those that are new to the game that would like to step up to a higher level?
Matt Hughes: Well one thing you have to do it always out work your opponent, the last thing that I want to do is go into a fight and the second and third round be out of shape. You have to go in there and be in shape. That can be done and started 2 months away from the fight, so you just gotta be in shape and be relaxed in their, you got to be able to think, and definitely know your technique, and be trained correctly.
Curtis Clontz: What would you say is the biggest mistake made by young fighters?
Matt Hughes: Not mentally preparing. People donâ€™t realize how mentally tough this sport is and you just have to be prepared. You have to run that match through your head many times before you step into the octagon, cage, or whatever it is, and have yourself winning every time you run it in your mind. Go through your moves, making sure that they are all done correctly. When you do that, the fight will tend to go your way.
Curtis Clontz: If you could talk to every single amateur fighter while they are coming up what would it be?
Matt Hughes: To every move there is a counter, and to every counter there is a counter. If you find yourself in a bad situation always remember there is a way out.
The above reply was by far my favorite part of the interview. This showed the coaching side of Matt Hughes. It not only was great advice, but the way he said it would pump any fighter up! This quote proves just how knowledgeable and great of a coach Matt Hughes is.
Curtis Clontz: Right now one of the biggest stories in all sports not just MMA is steroids, do you feel that the UFC has a steroid problem?
Matt Hughes: I am sure there are people in the UFC that take steroids and other illegal substances, but it is tested. Steroids are tested, I donâ€™t think that all the illegal substances are tested, but there is always going to be stuff like that no matter where you are or what sport you are in, so you just gotta live with it. I am not worried about it, if my opponent thinks he needs to take steroids to beat me then that is his problem, he is going to have to live with the side effects and know that he wasnâ€™t playing on a level playing field.
Curtis Clontz: Another issue is weight cutting, personally I think it is part of the sport, many believe that it should be regulated and controlled. What are your opinions on it?
Matt Hughes: I come from an old wrestling background and I cut a lot of weight before, but I donâ€™t know if the UFC has had any problems with guys cutting weight to be honest. There has been some people that havenâ€™t made weight, but youâ€™re gonna get that no matter what you do, and people arenâ€™t going to make weight. Right now I donâ€™t see any problem, but you know, they will probably try to do something, but itâ€™s whatever. Whatever they do is not going to affect me, I will be alright.
Curtis Clontz: In the careers of many top notch athletes, there has been one defining moment that personified their career. Looking back at yours at this point, what would you say would be your defining moment?
Matt Hughes: Probably beating Royce Gracie, just for the fact that he was so good in the past, and when he came back I was able to defeat him pretty decisively. That would be a huge defining moment for me.
Curtis Clontz: Your next fight will be against Thiago Alves. What are your comments to those that think Alves will beat you and that you are done as a fighter?
Matt Hughes: Well, if they think I am done as a fighter they are definitely wrong. Sure, it is no doubt that Thiago has a chance to beat me, each time you step into the octagon there is a chance that you are going to lose, but there is no way I am done right now. I am 34 years old, Randy Couture is 43 and Chuck Liddell I think is around 37, so there is just no way I am done right now.
Curtis Clontz: On the show you said that you only have a few fights left, like you said Chuck is in his 30s and Randy is in his mid 40s, how long do you think you can go?
Matt Hughes: I donâ€™t know, he (Randy Couture) has went longer than I thought he would be able to go. I didnâ€™t think he would be going like he is right now that is for sure.
Curtis Clontz: Speaking of Randy do you think him and Fedor will ever fight?
Matt Hughes: I donâ€™t know, I really donâ€™t know. I have no idea if or when that would happen.
Curtis Clontz: Matt I appreciate you taking your time to answer these questions, I wish you nothing but good things in the future with yourself and your gym. All of your fans canâ€™t wait to see you back in the cage! Would you like to say anything to the fans or your sponsors?
Matt Hughes: If anyone would like any more information on me they can check out my website at
www. Matt-hughes.com, that is where they can find more information about me and my sponsors. I want to thank everyone for the support.
Thanks again to Matt Hughes and the entire group at Team Hughes.