Matt Hughes is a living legend.
When it's all said and done, the 9-time UFC welterweight champion will go down as a true pioneer of the sport and one of the first to successfully cross train disciplines at a high level.
Think Wilt Chamberlain, Babe Ruth and Johnny Unitas - early superstars who changed the way the game was played.
Already a Division I All-American wrestler at the start of his career in 1998, a young Matt Hughes worked hard under fellow grappling pioneer Pat Miletich to add high level jiu-jitsu to his devastating ground-and-pound - a practice which eventually enabled Hughes to become one of the sports' first dominant champions.
Now at 37 years of age and closing in on the twilight of his career, Hughes remains as relevant as ever. The Illinois native can still sell a fight card, still has fans hanging on his every word, and is still every bit as competitive as the first time he stepped foot inside the Octagon.
Recent rumors had Hughes contemplating retirement following a loss to BJ Penn last November, but Hughes says he has at least one more fight left in him.
"I'm gonna fight one more time," Hughes told MMA Fight Corner presented by FiveKnuckles.com. "Probably late summer-early fall and we'll take it from there. All I'm guaranteeing is one more fight. I'm not guaranteeing anything after that. I'll see how that goes and make a decision after that."
After that, Hughes who has always enjoyed coaching fellow MMA fighters, figures to continue coaching and recently added a surprising new protege in personal nemesis BJ Penn. In January, Penn asked Hughes to come to his native Hawaii and train with him in anticipation of Penn's fight last month against Jon Fitch. Hughes accepted on the condition that he could bring a guest.
"BJ texted me and said, 'Hey I got this fight against (Jon) Fitch," Hughes said. "I'd like for you to go over some stuff like takedowns against the fence, maybe some striking on the ground, blah, blah, blah...' And I said, 'let me go home, talk to my wife and look at my schedule.' So I did, I talked to her, she thought it was a great idea. I then texted BJ and said, 'Send me Fitch's last five fights as soon as you can. And I need two tickets to Hawaii - one for Mathew A. Hughes and the other for Hannah Grace Hughes,' my four and a half year old daughter. So Hannah and I went out there and we had a great time."
The two former rivals and bitter enemies quickly struck up a friendship and learned a lot from one another in their time spent both on and away from the mat.
"It was actually pretty fun," Hughes continued. "BJ and I quickly found out that we're a lot alike. We both got kinda the same sense of humor, we're easy going and so we got along really good. We really did. I was out there for five days; flew in on Sunday, left on Friday and I had a great time. As far as training with BJ, I was able to learn a lot, I think BJ learned a lot and I had a great vacation with my daughter.
Under Hughes expert grappling tutelage, Penn learned enough to out-Fitch Jon Fitch for two rounds before fading in the third. The fight was eventually scored a draw - a ruling Hughes disputes.
"Honestly, I watched the fight with a bunch of buddies of mine like I always do, and...