Count Matt Hughes among those in the MMA community who believes the Ultimate Fighting Championship has oversaturated the market with fight cards.
Prior to his near-fatal accident this past summer, the ex-UFC welterweight champion did an interview on “Undeniable with Joe Buck” addressing the matter. The interview will air on DirecTV and Audience Network on Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET/PT.
“I think it’s too commercial,” Hughes said. “They’ve got fights darn near every week (on) one of the three channels they’re on, and I think it’s too commercial. I am so happy that timing worked out for me where I fought when I did. I really think that I fought in the golden ages.
“I started at UFC 22, and I don’t even know what my last one was – around (UFC) 110 or 115 or something – but I think I was in the golden ages. It was when people got together to watch the UFC. It wasn’t – because they’re so often now.”
Hughes made his Octagon debut with a unanimous decision win over Valeri Ignatov at UFC 22 on Sept. 24, 1999. That year, the UFC held just six events total. In 2017 alone, the Las Vegas-based promotion will have held 39 events, airing on UFC Fight Pass, Fox Sports 1, Fox and pay-per-view.
“They’re just not as special,” Hughes said of UFC events.
The former welterweight champion last competed at UFC 211 in September 2011, losing to Josh Koscheck via first-round knockout. He was later hired as vice president of athlete development and government relations by the promotion but was let go this past December after the UFC was purchased by new owners WME-IMG. Hughes is still recovering from the accident that initially left him in a coma, but his progress has been significant in recent months.