Sherdog Remembers: Hughes vs. Gracie

By Staff May 27, 2011
It was as if Matt Hughes was fighting an amateur. He did what he wanted when he wanted and how he wanted to do it, all to the man credited with pouring the foundation of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

In less than five minutes at UFC 60, Hughes shattered what remained of the mystique surrounding hall of famer Royce Gracie, has he beat the Brazilian at his own game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. In doing so, Hughes showed the world just how far the modern-day mixed martial artist had progressed. Despite the hopes of his loyal supporters, Gracie could not turn back the clock. The corvette sped right past the Model-T.

Hughes pawed at Gracie with strikes before the two clinched along the cage. A takedown followed, and Hughes controlled his opponent from side control. Gracie tried to free himself from bottom position, the very place from which he had built much of his legend. Hughes did not relent, trapping Gracie’s arm in a kimura and threatening the submission master with a taste of his own medicine. Alas, Hughes released the hold and transitioned to back mount when Gracie flipped to his stomach. Unanswered blows to Gracie’s head forced the stoppage, as Hughes unleashed a punishing stream of fists for the finish.

Never before had someone so thoroughly controlled and dominated Gracie, who entered the cage seven months shy of his 40th birthday. It marked his first appearance inside the Octagon since his rematch with Ken Shamrock ended in a draw at UFC 5. Gracie has not fought for the UFC since.

In the five years that have passed since the Hughes-Gracie encounter, Hughes has experienced his own decline, as diminished skills and age have taken their nature toll on a once-dominant champion. Young lions have risen and surpassed him, as evidenced by one-sided losses to Thiago Alves and Georges St. Pierre (twice).

Still, Hughes’ flawless performance against Gracie remains an historical piece of the MMA fabric, and it took place on this day five years ago.
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