To coincide with this appointment, UFC has also created a clear set of athlete guidelines, or Conduct Policy, memorializing the values long held by the organization. As ambassadors of the sport and the organization, UFC athletes have always been held to a high standard. The UFC recognizes that athletes face both professional and personal pressures, and with health and safety paramount, the Conduct Policy coupled with the new resource Hughes will provide in his role, best positions UFC athletes for a successful career and post-UFC future.
“Hughes will be an invaluable resource for UFC athletes,” Lawrence Epstein, UFC COO, said. “Leveraging the background and expertise he gained over a Hall of Fame career, Hughes will be dedicated to providing guidance on a wide range of issues athletes face inside and outside of the Octagon®. This includes understanding the heightened social responsibility that comes with being in the public eye, to best practices when dealing with endorsements or managing finances, to the basic daily challenges of staying healthy during training, as well as the need to steer clear of illegal and/or performance-enhancing drugs. In addition to his work with UFC athletes, Hughes will engage with state athletic commissions and international federations to provide regulatory insight from the perspective of a professional athlete.”
“This is something that the UFC is implementing because they really care about their athletes,” Hughes said. “I’ve experienced ups and downs in my career and found that the UFC has supported me every step of the way. I understand the pressures and responsibilities that go along with being a professional athlete. I look forward to using my knowledge and experience to provide insight and perspective on behalf of athletes and the organization.”
“Matt is one of those guys that was there from the early days and helped grow MMA to the modern, professional sport it is today,” UFC president Dana White said. “He has been in the sport since the late 1990s and really seen it all. Matt is a two-time world champion in the UFC, he’s coached The Ultimate Fighter® reality series twice, has fought all over the world and has been in every situation a fighter can be in. Matt’s expertise makes him highly qualified for this.”
As a two-time UFC welterweight champion (2001 to 2004, 2004 to 2006), Hughes brings a wealth of experience to the role. A graduate of Eastern Illinois University where he was a two-time All-American NCAA Division I wrestler, Hughes began his mixed martial arts career in 1998, and would go on to not only be the first man to regain the UFC’s welterweight championship, but also compete all over the United States as well as Japan, England, Abu Dhabi and Kuwait while cementing his reputation as one of the all-time greats. In recognition of his enormous contribution to the sport both inside and outside the Octagon, Hughes became the eighth man to be inducted in the UFC Hall of Fame in May 2010.
Hughes is also a successful businessman outside of the Octagon, having run an agricultural company parallel to his fighting career. His charitable and community involvement includes mentoring and helping young people of his hometown Hillsboro, Ill. travel for mission trips.
For more information or current fight news, visit www.ufc.com. All bouts live and subject to change.
About the Ultimate Fighting Championship® Universally recognized for its action-packed, can’t-miss events that have sold out some of the biggest arenas and stadiums across the globe, the UFC® is the world’s premier mixed martial arts (MMA) organization. Owned and operated by Zuffa, LLC, headquartered in Las Vegas and with offices in London, Toronto and Beijing, UFC produces more than 30 live events annually and is the largest pay-per-view event provider in the world. In 2012, the UFC burst into the mainstream with a landmark seven-year broadcast agreement with FOX Sports Media Group. The agreement includes four live events broadcast on the FOX network annually, with additional fight cards and thousands of hours of programming broadcast on FOX properties FX and FUEL TV. This also includes the longest-running sports reality show on television, The Ultimate Fighter®, which now airs on FX.
In addition to its reach on FOX, UFC programming is broadcast in over 145 countries and territories, to nearly 800 million TV households worldwide, in 30 different languages. UFC content is also distributed commercially in the United States to bars and restaurants through Joe Hand Promotions, in English throughout Canada via Premium Sports Broadcasting Inc. and Australia via Main Event and in French throughout Quebec via Interbox. The UFC also connects with tens of millions of fans through its website, UFC.com, as well as social media sites Facebook and Twitter. UFC President Dana White is considered one of the most accessible and followed executives in sports, with over two million followers on Twitter. Ancillary UFC businesses include best-selling DVDs, an internationally distributed magazine, UFC.TV offering live event broadcasts and video on demand around the world, the best-selling UFC Undisputed® video game franchise distributed by THQ, and a new franchise in development with EA, UFC GYM®, UFC Fight Club affinity program, UFC Fan Expo® festivals, branded apparel and trading cards.