If you are an active MMA fan, or combat sports fan for that matter, I’m sure you’ve heard or said to yourself “Man he knocked out a ton of people.” Well that got me wondering… who has literally knocked out a ton of people by weight (2000 lbs.)?
In this weeks special edition on Tonnage, we look at our first Dropping and Tapping fighter Matthew Allen Hughes 45-9 MMA (18-7 UFC). Hughes was born on October 13, 1973 in Hillsboro, Illinois. He has an identical twin brother named Mark.
During his high school days, Hughes not only played football but wrestled as well. He compiled an amazing record of 131-2 over this time in the 145 lb. division. Both losses in his sophomore year going 43-2 and staying undefeated his last two years. 43-0 as a junior and 45-0 as a senior winning back to back class A state championships in ’91 and ’92. He would continue to wrestle during his time at Southwestern Illinois College and then transfer to Lincoln College after the program ended.
When Hughes was 24 years old he would make his MMA debut at JKD 1. In only fifteen seconds he would get the KO via slam over Erick Snyder. After another stoppage over Craig Quick at JKD 2, Hughes would enter the Extreme Challenge 21 tournament. Winning his first bout via TKO stoppage over Victor Hunsaker and his second via decision over Dave Menne. Then Hughes would taste defeat for the first time in his pro career. Dennis Hallman would get the Guillotine at only seventeen seconds. Hughes would then cap off his debut year with his 6th bout vs Ryan Stout. Stout’s corner would wave off the bout before the opening of round three. Giving Hughes his fourth KO/TKO victory and a nice rebound from his quick defeat.
Hughes would then have an incredible eight-fight year with six stoppages. His only decisions were to Akihiro Gono at the Shooto 10th Anniversary card and his UFC debut over Valeri Ignatov at UFC 22. He would then go back to Extreme Challenge during the EC 29 tournament and stop Joe Doerksen, Tom Schmitz and LaVerne Clark all on November 13, 1999. Seven days later he would face Daniel Vianna at JKD 4 where he would get the stoppage via cut in the first round.
Hughes would begin the new millennium with another doctor stoppage over Jorge Pereira at WEF 8. Then Hughes would pick up eight more wins in 2000. With nice stoppages over Shawn Peters, Marcelo Aguiar, Joe Guist, Robbie Newman, and Maynard Marcum all in the opening round. This putting him on an 18-fight winning streak and setting him up against the only man to defeat him in Dennis Hallman.
The bout would take place at UFC 29 in December 2000 making this Hughes 10th bout for the year. This time it would take Hallman only three seconds longer than the first to get the tap. At only twenty seconds of round one Hughes was caught in an Armbar and forced to tap. Now losing twice to the same man both times by submission.
Two months later Hughes would start his 2001 off the way his 2000 ended. Jose Landi-Jons would land the KO knee with fifteen seconds left in the first at Shidokan Jitsu. Handing Hughes his first two fight skid of his career. Hughes would rebound with four straight first round stoppages over Brett Al-azzawi, Bruce Nelson, John Cronk and Scott Johnson. Three more victories later he would be under the UFC banner exclusively.
In his first bout back with the UFC, Hughes would challenge Carlos Newton for the same welterweight strap taken from his long time trainer Pat Miletich. At UFC 34 Hughes would find himself in a very dangerous situation early in the second round, trapped in a Triangle by Newton. Hughes lifted Newton from the canvas and walked him over to the cage, sort of resting Newton on the top. Then Hughes gave him a huge slam that KO’d Newton. As the ref stepped in to stop the bout, you can easily tell that Hughes was very close to entering unconsciousness himself from the Triangle. Hughes, realizing he had just avenged his mentor’s loss and captured the UFC welterweight title, then began to celebrate with his team.
Hughes, now the UFC welterweight champion, would make his first title defense vs Hayato Sakurai at UFC 36. Hughes scored a fourth round TKO and was set up to defend against former champ Carlos Newton in a rematch. At UFC 38 Hughes would again get the stoppage over Newton. This time via fourth round TKO, retaining his strap and making his second successful title defense in his first main event for the promotion.
His third title defense would come against Gil Castillo at UFC 40. After the first round the fight would be waved off due to a cut and Hughes awarded the TKO victory over Castillo. 2002 would mark the first time Hughes would compete less than six times in one year after settling into the UFC. He would then defend his belt against surging Sean Sherk at UFC 42. Sherk had twenty bouts under his belt with only one draw and nineteen victories. After five rounds of fighting, Hughes would win via unanimous decision defending his title for the fourth time and handing Sherk his first pro loss. Hughes would then meet Frank Trigg at UFC 45. Hughes would lock in the Rear-Naked-Choke at 3:54 of the first round forcing Trigg to tap. Now with five consecutive title defenses, Hughes would enter 2004 on a historical title run.
Hughes would now face BJ Penn for his sixth title defense at UFC 46 in January 2004. Penn would lock in a Rear-Naked-Choke toward the end of the first round and force Hughes to tap. Stopping Hughes welterweight title defense record at five and starting a rivalry with Penn.
After a win over Renato Verissimo at UFC 48, Hughes would be back in the co-main event slot of UFC 50. This time vs a surging newcomer, on a seven-fight win streak (6 by stoppage), by the name of Georges “Rush/GSP” St. Pierre for the vacant welterweight title. With only seconds left in the first round, Hughes traps St. Pierre’s arm and locks in an Armbar forcing the tap with only one second left. Making Hughes now a two-time UFC welterweight champion and handing GSP his first career loss and rivalry of his own.
In Hughes first title defense he was set to rematch Frank Trigg at UFC 52. After an accidental groin shot that the ref missed, Hughes was forced to continue. Trigg took full advantage of the situation and jumped on Hughes. Trigg would take Hughes’s back and lock in a Rear-Naked-Choke. It looked as if Trigg would get his revenge and finish Hughes the same way he was finished in their first bout. However Hughes would escape and end up locking in his own Rear-Naked-Choke again and force Trigg to tap. Lasting just 11 seconds longer than the first bout. Hughes now a two-time defending welterweight champ.
In his second title defense Hughes was set to face Karo Parisyan at UFC 56 seven months later. After Parisyan withdrew due to injury, Hughes drew Joe Riggs. After Riggs missed weight the bout was switched to a catchweight of 173 lbs. making it a non-title bout. Hughes made quick work of Riggs scoring a Kimura in the first round of the co-main event.
Six months later at UFC 60, Hughes would face the MMA legend Royce Gracie in another catchweight bout of 175 lbs. Hughes would dominate the older Gracie. Even locking in a deep Armbar, yet Gracie never tapped. Finally at 4:39 of the first round John McCarthy steps in and stops the bout after some vicious ground and pound by Hughes.
Four months later Hughes was set to rematch GSP at UFC 63, however GSP would pull out due to injury. Now setting up Hughes to rematch the very man to derail his first title run BJ Penn. After two and a half rounds of battle Hughes scored the TKO in the nights main event and avenged his loss to Penn, putting the pair at one a piece.
Two months later, St. Pierre would finally get his rematch at UFC 65. After landing a head-kick that dropped Hughes early in the second, St. Pierre would get the TKO victory at 1:25 of round two. Hughes now losing his welterweight belt for the second time and putting the pair at one a piece as well.
Four months later Hughes would rebound from the loss with a unanimous decision over Chris Lytle at UFC 68. This earning him a shot at newly crowned welterweight champ Matt Serra at UFC 79 after coaching vs Serra on The Ultimate Fighter season 6. Serra would be forced out of the bout with a back injury and Hughes matched up against former champ GSP for the interim welterweight title and rubber match. GSP would again stop Hughes, this time with only six seconds left in the second round he would force the verbal tap from Hughes via Armbar.
The following year Hughes would take on Thiago Alves in the main event of UFC 85. Alves came in heavy and the bout was made a 174 lb. catchweight. In the first minute of the second round, Alves would catch Hughes with a flying knee and jump on the former champ for the TKO stoppage. This put Hughes on his second two-fight skid of his career.
It would be almost a year later before Hughes would compete again. He would finally get to face Matt Serra at UFC 98. Hughes won a unanimous decision over Serra in the long-awaited bout. Hughes would take off almost another year before competing again. His return would be vs Renzo Gracie at UFC 112. Hughes spent much of the time chopping away at Gracie’s leg and waiting for the ref to get Gracie back on his feet. Even helping Gracie to his feet himself so the bout could continue. Hughes would get the TKO at 4:40 of the final round.
On May 28, 2010 Hughes was inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame. Later that year Hughes would meet Ricardo Almeida at UFC 117. At just 3:15 of the very first round, Hughes would lock in the Anaconda Choke and put Almeida to sleep securing his 35th stoppage victory and the last win of his MMA career. He would go on to be KO’d in twenty-one seconds by BJ Penn in their rubber match falling to 1-2 at UFC 123. Then after a canceled bout vs Diego Sanchez at UFC 135, Josh Koscheck would replace Sanchez and get the KO finish with only one second left in the first round.
The UFC announced on January 24, 2013 that Hughes had officially retired from competition and would be named Vice President of Athlete Development and Government Relations. He would continue in this role until the purchase by WME-IMG. After approximately 100 lay offs, Hughes would be let go as well at the end of 2016.
On June 16, 2017 Hughes was struck by a train and injured severely while trying to cross the tracks in Raymond, Ill. He has since began a remarkable recovery even beginning to do a little rolling with his coaches. I for one have always found Hughes to be a very exciting and fun fighter to watch. Always toward the top of my favorite fighters and some of my favorite moments have come from Hughes. I wish him and his family well and hope for a full recovery of one of the best you will ever see compete in the octagon.
In Hughes’s 54 fight career he has submitted 18 of his opponents totaling a whopping 3,221.5 lbs. of men.
In order from most recent:
Ricardo Almeida UFC 117 1st rnd. Anaconda Choke @ 3:15 170.5 lbs.
Joe Riggs UFC 56 1st rnd. Kimura @ 3:28 172.5 lbs.
Frank Trigg UFC 52 1st rnd. RNC @ 4:05 169.5 lbs.
Georges St. Pierre UFC 50 1st rnd. Armbar @ 4:59 169 lbs.
Frank Trigg UFC 45 1st rnd. RNC @ 3:54 169 lbs.
Chatt Lavender EC 41 3rd rnd. Arm Triangle @ 2:31 170 lbs.
John Cronk Gladiators 14 1st rnd. Sub to Strikes @ ? 183 lbs.
Bruce Nelson FCC 4 1st rnd. Sub to Strikes @ 3:04 205 lbs.
Brett Al-azzawi Rings USA: BOC 1st rnd. Armbar @ 3:27 180 lbs.
Maynard Marcum Rings Australia: FFB 1st rnd. Keylock @ 6:29 200 lbs.
Robbie Newman Rings USA: RSF 1st rnd. Arm-Triangle @ 1:40 181 lbs.
Joe Guist EC 35 1st rnd. Armbar @ 2:45 170 lbs.
Shawn Peters EC 32 1st rnd. Arm-Triangle @ 2:52 169 lbs.
Eric Davila SB 17 2nd rnd. Keylock @ 3:24 172 lbs.
LaVerne Clark EC 29 2nd rnd. RNC @ 1:35 185 lbs.
Tom Schmitz EC 29 1st rnd. Sub-Eye Injury @ 0:48 185 lbs.
Joe Doerksen EC 29 2nd rnd. Sub to Strikes @ 0:25 186 lbs.
Craig Quick JKD 2 1st rnd. Sub to Strikes @ ? 185 lbs.
In Hughes’s 54 fight career he has KO/TKO’d 17 of his opponents totaling a whopping 2,944.5 lbs. of men.
In order from most recent:
Renzo Gracie UFC 112 3rd rnd. TKO @ 4:40 171 lbs.
BJ Penn UFC 63 3rd rnd. TKO @ 3:53 166.5 lbs.
Royce Gracie UFC 60 1st rnd. TKO @ 4:39 175 lbs.
Gil Castillo UFC 40 1st rnd. TKO-Cut @ 5:00 170 lbs.
Carlos Newton UFC 38 4th rnd. TKO @ 3:27 169 lbs.
Hayato Sakurai UFC 36 4th rnd. TKO @ 3:01 170 lbs.
Carlos Newton UFC 34 2nd rnd. KO @ 1:27 169 lbs.
Steve Gomm EC 43 2nd rnd. TKO @ 3:18 179 lbs.
Scott Johnson EC 40 1st rnd. KO @ 3:24 155 lbs.
Marcelo Aguiar UFC 26 1st rnd. TKO @ 4:34 169 lbs.
Jorge Pereira WEF 8 1st rnd. TKO @ 6:00 180 lbs.
Daniel Vianna JKD Challenge 4 1st rnd. TKO-Cut @ ? 170 lbs.
Erick Snyder JKD 3 1st rnd. TKO @ ? 184 lbs.
Joe Stern EC 23 1st rnd. TKO @ 2:30 189 lbs.
Ryan Stout Extreme Shootfighting 2nd rnd. TKO @ 5:00 175 lbs.
Victor Hunsaker EC 21 1st rnd. TKO @ 1:39 169 lbs.
Erick Snyder JKD 1 1st rnd. KO @ 0:15 184 lbs.
Which is your favorite Hughes submission and KO?
Check out the complete Tonnage series below:
Tapping Tonnage Vol. 1 – Royce Gracie
Tapping Tonnage Vol. 2 – Demian Maia
Tapping Tonnage Vol. 3 – Frank Mir
Dropping Tonnage Vol. 1 – Mark Hunt
Dropping Tonnage Vol. 2 – Michael Bisping
Dropping Tonnage Vol. 3 – Cain Velasquez
Dropping Tonnage Vol. 4 – Mauricio Rua