Matt Hughes, the legendary Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Hall of Famer and former two-time welterweight champion, officially announced his retirement from UFC competition today. He has eagerly accepted a new role as he joins the organization’s front office, taking the newly created position of Vice President of Athlete Development and Government Relations.
To coincide with this appointment, UFC has also created a clear set of athlete guidelines, or Conduct Policy, memorializing the values long held by the organization. As ambassadors of the sport and the organization, UFC athletes have always been held to a high standard. The UFC recognizes that athletes face both professional and personal pressures, and with health and safety paramount, the Conduct Policy coupled with the new resource Hughes will provide in his role, best positions UFC athletes for a successful career and post-UFC future.
“Hughes will be an invaluable resource for UFC athletes,” Lawrence Epstein, UFC COO, said. “Leveraging the background and expertise he gained over a Hall of Fame career, Hughes will be dedicated to providing guidance on a wide range of issues athletes face inside and outside of the Octagon. This includes understanding the heightened social responsibility that comes with being in the public eye, to best practices when dealing with endorsements or managing finances, to the basic daily challenges of staying healthy during training, as well as the need to steer clear of illegal and/or performance-enhancing drugs. In addition to his work with UFC athletes, Hughes will engage with state athletic commissions and international federations to provide regulatory insight from the perspective of a professional athlete.”
“This is something that the UFC is implementing because they really care about their athletes,” Hughes said. “I’ve experienced ups and downs in my career and found that the UFC has supported me every step of the way. I understand the pressures and responsibilities that go along with being a professional athlete. I look forward to using my knowledge and experience to provide insight and perspective on behalf of athletes and the organization.”
“Matt is one of those guys that was there from the early days and helped grow MMA to the modern, professional sport it is today,” UFC president Dana White said. “He has been in the sport since the late 1990s and really seen it all. Matt is a two-time world champion in the UFC, he’s coached The Ultimate Fighter reality series twice, has fought all over the world and has been in every situation a fighter can be in. Matt’s expertise makes him highly qualified for this.”
As a two-time UFC welterweight champion (2001-2004, 2004-2006), Hughes brings a wealth of experience to the role. A graduate of Eastern Illinois University where he was a two-time All-American NCAA Division I wrestler, Hughes began his mixed martial arts career in 1998, and would go on to not only be the first man to regain the UFC’s welterweight championship, but also compete all over the United States as well as Japan, England, Abu Dhabi, and Kuwait while cementing his reputation as one of the all-time greats. In recognition of his enormous contribution to the sport both inside and outside the Octagon, Hughes became the eighth man to be inducted in the UFC Hall of Fame in May 2010.
Hughes is also a successful businessman outside of the Octagon, having run an agricultural company parallel to his fighting career. His charitable and community involvement includes mentoring and helping young people of his hometown Hillsboro, Illinois, travel for mission trips.