It’s only been a couple months since UFC Hall of Famer Matt Hughes became a UFC executive, but already there have been plenty of situations that might eventually fall under his purview.
Hughes in January announced his retirement from fighting, and at the same time the UFC announced he will be the company’s vice president of athlete development.
It’s a position that UFC President Dana White initially said would have Hughes acting in a relationship-building role, and at the same time there were and are plans for him to help work with state athletic commissions to further the sport.
Hughes told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) in January that he won’t consider himself a “policeman” for other fighters.
So in that regard, this past week’s attention-grabbing incident with Nick Diaz skipping out on a workout session for fans and media in Montreal might not have been something he would have taken it on himself to offer advice on. And Diaz might not be the type who would welcome such advice, anyway.
But following UFC 158 at Bell Centre in Montreal, White told MMAjunkie.com that if Hughes had wanted to reach out to Diaz – or any other UFC fighter he felt the need to counsel – he has that ability.
White said it won’t necessarily be on the UFC to offer suggestions to Hughes over who he should be giving advice to in his “athlete development” capacity, and it won’t be on Hughes to ask permission from the UFC to reach out to any particular fighter.
“He could do it – he could reach out to Nick,” White said. “He could reach out to anyone he wants to and try to create a relationship and say, ‘Hey, I’m just calling.’ They don’t have to listen to him. They could listen to him. At the end of the day, it’s really all about relationships. If you want to fight in this company, there’s got to be somebody that you can talk to. It’s not me, and it doesn’t have to be me all the time. I don’t mesh with everybody.”
White said as Hughes continues to evolve into the position, he’ll be building more and more relationships, especially with newer fighters.
“Here’s what needs to happen. Matt Hughes is going to be more involved with the UFC and start to create relationships with some of these guys,” White said. “And the way that this thing works is, Matt Hughes won’t be able to create relationships with every guy. There are some guys he’ll become real close to.
“I have relationships with a lot of guys, and there are some guys that I don’t. (UFC CEO) Lorenzo (Fertitta) has relationships with guys and (matchmaker) Joe Silva does. So there are a lot of people that are working with a lot of different personalities and things. It’s never really on one guy’s shoulders.”
But right now, with the “athlete development” title in place, Hughes may ultimately wind up with the most visible shoulders when it comes to building relationships. Time will tell what his level of involvement as a fighter liaison will be.
(Pictured: Matt Hughes)
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