The Most Influential UFC Fights I (of V)

By Jake Rossen Jul 6, 2009
All this week: recapping the key UFC bouts that changed perception or behavior in or around the Octagon. (Part one, with the first half of the top 10, can be viewed here.)

Royce Gracie vs. Matt Hughes (UFC 60, May 27, 2006)

If you’re inclined to gauge how much the sport of mixed martial arts evolved during Royce Gracie’s 11-year absence from the UFC, you can either A). Spend hours poring over fight footage or B). Take five minutes to watch his fight with Matt Hughes. It’s a sight that rendered his fans catatonic. Ineffective in the clinch, helpless on the ground, Gracie was reduced to a battered mess by Hughes, who used a mix of wrestling and jiu-jitsu to depress the hell out of anyone who had ever rented a UFC II VHS cassette.

Hughes once confessed that he had half-expected Gracie to pull out some “magical” submission from the bottom. Whether he was that paranoid or just being kind is irrelevant: There was no magic left.

The Winner: Hughes by TKO.

The Lesson: MMA had moved far beyond Gracie’s singular abilities; this was a broad illustration that could be seen even from the cheap seats.
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