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Ex-champ Matt Hughes says busy UFC schedule 'too commercial' these days

Dann StuppFormer and longtime UFC welterweight champion Matt Hughes looks back on his fighting days as the “golden age” of the sport.

These days, though, the UFC’s busy schedule is “too commercial,” he said, and makes each event feel a little less special.

Hughes discussed current-day MMA while a guest on “Undeniable with Joe Buck.” The segment for the DirecTV and AUDIENCE Network interview show (debuts Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET/PT) was filmed in March – a few months before a horrific truck-train collision left Hughes in a medically induced coma and fighting for his life.

The 44-year-old UFC Hall of Famer, who’s one of MMA’s all-time greats, is still on the mend as part of a remarkable recovery, but prior to the accident, he spoke to Buck about his career. It spanned from 1998-2011 – from UFC 22 to UFC 135 – and according to Hughes, it was a special time for the sport.

“I think it’s too commercial,” Hughes said of modern-day UFC. “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.”

The year Hughes (45-9 MMA, 18-7 UFC) made his promotional debut – 1999 – saw the UFC host just six events all year. The first year he won a title – 2001 – the UFC hosted five shows.

This year, though? Between pay-per-view, FS1/FS2, FOX and UFC Fight Pass, the organization is hosting 39 events across the globe, including a debut in mainland China with Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 122 lineup in Shanghai.

“They’re just not as special,” Hughes said.

For more on the UFC’s upcoming schedule, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

The Blue Corner is MMAjunkie‘s official blog and is edited by Mike Bohn.

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