Exclusive: Matt Hughes Part 3: The Ultimate Fighter, Chael vs. Jones, Fixing The Judges
To read part one click here.
To read part two click here.
As The Ultimate Fighter prepares to enter its 17th season many fans feel as though the show has run its course and either needs some drastic changes or needs to end. Hughes has a lot of experience when it comes to TUF having coached opposite Rich Franklin during season two; he assisted Jens Pulver in season five and against Matt Serra during season six. Hughes also made a few guest appearances for Team Lesnar during season 13. The UFC has taken the reality series overseas to Brazil, hosted a season pitting fighters from the UK against Australia and is about to begin taping in India. We wanted to get Hughes opinion on whether or not the show has become watered down.
“The Ultimate Fighter helped propel the organization to where they are at today,” stated the UFC Hall of Famer. “What TUF and all of the televised shows does it waters down the market which hurts the smaller shows because they are having a hard time getting fans to show up to their events. All fans have to do these days is turn on the television and they will see some fights. It’s really hurting the infrastructure of fighting more than anything else. It’s really putting a strain on all of the small shows.”
Keeping on the topic of TUF, the UFC announced a few weeks ago that UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones will coach opposite former two-time middleweight contender Chael Sonnen on the season 17. The two men will then meet at the end of April in a championship bout. Sonnen has come under fire from fans, pundits and other fighters for seemingly talking his way into a fight with Jones.
“Being I don’t get to make decisions my opinion really doesn’t matter,” remarked Hughes. “Chael stepped up and tried to fight Jones when they needed an opponent and that means a lot. Because he stepped up maybe he should get the fight. To be honest I think it will make for an interesting show because Sonnen is an interesting guy.”
“I really don’t tune into TUF all that much because it’s not my type of show. I don’t watch a lot of TV that has a lot of vulgarity and cussing. I’ve got three kids in my house and if the TV is on there’s a good chance SpongeBob Squarepants is on! I do think I’m going to try and catch Chael a little bit and see what he’s up to. Sonnen and Jones make for an interesting match-up which could lead to some interesting conversations.”
Sonnen has taken on the role of the heel and it’s because of that he’s become one of the must see attractions in the UFC. He will no doubt help improve TUF’s ratings and as Dana White explained, Sonnen is one of the top five fighters in terms of pay-per-view buys. MMA is a sport first and foremost, but Hughes understands that it’s also a business.
“If Sonnen truly is in the top five pay-per-view sales, I would go out on a limb and say that half of the fans watch him to see him win and the other half tune in to watch him lose,” Hughes explained. “Every one of those fans turn on the television to hear what is going to come out of his mouth next. I’ve always thought he could have his own reality show because he’s a pretty interesting cat!”
The controversy surrounding MMA officials both judges and referees continues to grow with each and every event. Too many fighters have lost bouts because of the judges not being qualified to score their fights. A lot of fighters have looked into becoming judges and referees or at the very least advocates in an attempt to make the system more reliable, you can add Hughes to that list.
“I think judges need to go to some type of school and get certified,” Hughes said. “Watching 100 boxing fights doesn’t do anything for you on the MMA side of things. Fighters always work to finish their fights, but in some cases it doesn’t happen that way it goes the distance and the judges are called upon to determine a winner. I think fighters should feel relaxed and believe the judges are going to give a fair and accurate decision. More times than not the judges are wrong in my eyes, I may not know what I’m talking or know what I’m watching, but I think I do. I’ve refereed and judged over 100 fights and fought 50 fights so I think I know what I’m talking about. If I could help and get these judges into some type of class I would be more than happy to do so. Judging is the weak spot in MMA in my eyes.”
“I don’t have the same complaints about referees that I do about the judges. Refs need to be decisive and that was the problem when Frank Trigg and I fought the second time. I think he saw what happened (The low blow), but he just didn’t get in there in time and Frank capitalized on the moment and got on top of me. I would rather see the fight go a little bit longer rather than have a quick stoppage. You won’t get a big complaint from me as far as referees are concerned. While we can always do better the refs aren’t that bad. When you put the two up against one another there is no doubt in my eyes we need to concentrate on the judging.”