Hughes retires, becomes UFC VP
Matt Hughes has a new role, and the UFC is set to release a code of conduct for fighters.
Both were announced in conjunction with Hughes’ retirement by UFC president Dana White at the UFC on FOX 6 news conference Thursday — not that either should be unfamiliar.
“It’s nothing new,” Hughes said of the code of conduct. “It’s basically common sense.”
Hughes, 39, spent much of his decade-long UFC career dominating the welterweight division. He finally relented to White’s pleas to retire and serve as the UFC’s first VP of athlete development and government relations. The two had discussed the new role since Hughes’ last fight in September 2011.
“He basically told me that ‘You are going to retire,’ ” Hughes told FOXSports.com. “He said, ‘We don’t know what you’re going to do, but you’re going to do something.’ ”
One of Hughes’ duties will be making sure the UFC’s 400-plus fighters under contract understand the code, which runs about four pages and will be released within a week.
“We can write documents all day long, but you can’t talk to a document or seek advice from a document,” UFC COO Lawrence Epstein told FOXSports.com. “Having a guy like Matt — who has gone through just about everything in the Octagon — will allow fighters to seek help from somebody who has been there before.”
Donald Cerrone, who faces Anthony Pettis on Saturday, certainly seems to agree. “His voice matters,” he said.
Epstein said the code will go out to the fighters via email, and it also will be part of all new UFC contracts. The document will cover criminal behavior and interactions through social media — among other issues.
The code will not include language regarding steroids or other banned substances, Epstein said.
“Performance-enhancing drugs will not specifically be addressed,” Epstein said. “It’s already policy to avoid doing anything that will hurt the reputation of the UFC. A positive drug test would certainly do that.”
There doesn’t appear to be one event that caused UFC officials to create the code, although White did mention that recent fighter Twitter messages have been a concern.
“What some people find funny can be horribly offensive to others,” White said. “Comedians can say anything. (UFC fighters) are not comedians. That’s the biggest problem with our athletes.”
Hughes didn’t have to worry about Facebook or Twitter when he began his UFC career. Neither existed yet. His debut fight in the then-sputtering MMA promotion was in September 1999, two years before White persuaded the Fertitta brothers to purchase UFC.
“He’s been a loyal guy to us,” White said. “As we were building this company, it was like the wild, wild west. There were always a few guys I could count on, and Matt Hughes was one of those guys.”
Hughes, a two-time All-American wrestler at Eastern Illinois University, had two stints as UFC welterweight champion, spanning five years total. He lost the belt the second time to current titleholder Georges St-Pierre in November 2006.
Hughes exits UFC — at least as a fighter — with the most wins (18), as a UFC Hall of Famer and as a two-time coach on “The Ultimate Fighter.”