The first time the two fought, Matt Hughes finished Carlos Newton with the most impressive slam in UFC history. Locked in a triangle choke, Hughes lifted Newton into the air, over his head, walked across the cage, and slammed him on his back. It was an amazing feat of strength, countering Canadian brains with pure American brawn. It wasn't, however, without controversy.
While Newton was knocked unconscious, Hughes was also on unsteady ground. "If you asked me what day of the week it was, I wouldn't have been able to answer you," he told me in a 2007 interview. The photo finish left doubt lingering. The rematch erased it.
Despite training for just a couple of weeks (Matt's manager Monte Cox revealed Hughes refused to start his training camp until he was done helping his brother put a new roof on his house) Hughes put a beating on Newton. There were some scary moments for the champion, including a first round armbar that nearly finished him. But at the end of the bout, Hughes had Newton trapped in a crucifix, pounding away until the former champion was forced to verbally submit. Hughes had solidified his claim to UFC gold.