What seems like generations ago, rising stars like "Sugar" Shane Mosley, Oscar De la Hoya, and Roy Jones Jr. graced the HBO Saturday night fight cards. Fantastic bouts were fought by amazing champions of the ring. Perhaps I was young and impressionable but boxing had me entranced by its sporting sophistication and glamour. So many things went wrong somewhere between then and now. Big draw names are now absent from the heavyweight division. No unified governing body exists to crown (or belt) a world champ. The most desired match-ups were never put together. Will someone please make Mayweather v. Paqiuao happen. Then along came UFC.
I can remember the first fight I saw; Trigg v. Hughes 2 from UFC 52 (mislabeled as 45 in the video, their first meeting). Trigg low blows Hughes then puts him in a rear naked choke and by all means has him dead to rights, Hughes escapes, does his signature carry-you-across-the-ring-for-a-body-slam move, then finishes the match with his own rear naked choke. It was an epic finish and I was fan!
I hate to admit that boxing is becoming an archaic sport with the advent of mixed martial arts. UFC and its President, Dana White, are doing everything right. Fights in the octagon are action packed and unpredictable where those in the square ring might have an inordinate amount of grown men seemingly hugging each other. They have made the sport more accessible by airing matches and reality competitions on cable networks. Joe Rogan adds great energy to the commentating and even though they could not get the best ring announcer in history, Michael Buffer, they got the next best thing, his brother.
After an illustrious career, Matt Hughes may have fought his last fight on Saturday night. His conditioning, skills and determination were never in question as the former champion yielded his glory to a younger generation of ultimate fighter. Hall of Fame honors are most certainly deserved for an incredibly entertaining fighter. Hughes may be the reason I enjoy MMA so much today and for that I say "thank you".