Hughes won his first UFC title at UFC 34 in 2001. He went on to defend the title six times before he lost the belt to BJ Penn at UFC 45. Hughes won the UFC title again at UFC 50 in 2004 when he won the vacant title and defeated Georges St-Pierre, handing GSP his first ever career defeat in MMA.
According to an official UFC news release, in Hughes' new role, he will conduct policy fundamental to UFC's commitment to fighter safety first and highest standards. Hughes' appointment coincides with UFC's newly created Code of Conduct Policy. UFC now recognizes athletes facing both professional and personal pressures, and the Conduct Policy along with Hughes will provide UFC fighters the chance to have a successful career and post-UFC future.
Lawrence Epstein, UFC COO said: "Hughes will be an invaluable resource for UFC athletes. 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."
Hughes stated: "This is something that the UFC is implementing because they really care about their athletes. 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."
UFC president Dana White commented on Hughes' new role at today UFC on Fox 6 pre-fight press confence, stating: "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."