Hughes on training and his close-knit team

September, 14, 2011
9/14/11
8:36
AM ET
By Matt Hughes
Special to ESPN.com
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Hugheswww.matt-hughes.comMatt Hughes has enlisted the services of some old buddies ahead of his fight with Josh Koscheck.
For my upcoming fight at UFC 135 in Denver, I stayed home in Hillsboro for a good portion of my training camp, and it was great because I had my family there. We’ve got a big house and we’ve got some property, so the boys would ride four wheelers, swim in the pool and shoot some guns during the day. At night we had hotel rooms for them, so they went there to spend the night, which gave me my time with my family as well.

We did two-a-days, where we practiced in the morning and practiced at night and I was the guy getting beat on and torn down, so I didn’t want to do anything spectacular during the middle of the day. I was going to conserve my energy for the mat, and being here helped me lay a good foundation, even with the change in opponents from Diego Sanchez to Josh Koscheck.

By this time, I bet you’re wondering who was in camp with me, and some of you may have seen the picture of the team together, and addition to my usual training partners -- guys like Jeremy Horn, Matt Pena, Robbie Lawler and DaMarques Johnson -- I brought in a couple of special guests – B.J. Penn and Pat Miletich.

Being around such great fighters and coaches is humbling, No. 1; and No. 2, it was a great learning environment because we all learned off each other. I’m around the other guys a lot -- Jeremy, and Matt Pena, and DaMarques -- but with Pat and B.J. being around there as well, they would bring up different situations, and then Jeremy would add stuff I’d never seen on top of that. All I had to do was show up, not do anything on the mat, and I was gonna sit there and learn. If I wanted to, I could have charged admission and people would have loved to just sit there, watch and soak it in.

It had been years since Pat and I had worked together, probably since I left the gym, which was right after “The Ultimate Fighter 6” show in 2007. After that, me, Matt (Pena), Robbie (Lawler), and Marc Fiore -- the coaches for my team -- all came up with the gym concept. So it’s been that long for us, but Pat and I have always stayed in contact and he’s a brother of mine, there’s no doubt about that. So it was great to get my hands on him and wrestle with him, and the thing that wasn’t so great were his quick jabs and his standup. He’s got ferocious standup. And if you were wondering, Pat’s still got it, but he’s got it in certain time slots. He would not go three five-minute rounds, but he can have a decent five minute go, take a few minutes off, then go again later. It was great getting back in there with him. I still knew what his strengths and his weaknesses were and where he didn’t like to be and what made him uncomfortable, and I’m sure he knew what made me uncomfortable, but I was the guy who was in shape, so things kinda went my way a bit.
[+] EnlargeHughes/Penn
www.matt-hughes.comB.J. Penn, left, and Matt Hughes are mixing it up again but this time as sparring partners.

As far as working with B.J., who I fought three times over the years, a lot of people really raise an eyebrow when I say that he’s been training with me, but they might not know that I went out to Hawaii and helped B.J .with his takedowns for (his fight with Jon) Fitch. He’s repaying the favor I did for him and I found out a lot about B.J. when I went out to Hawaii and started training with him. We are actually a lot alike personality wise, and sense of humor wise for sure. We have a ball together and I’ve got to watch out for him because he’s quick-witted. My brother Mark is very quick-witted as well, so I’ve just gotta stay on my toes. He’ll catch me a couple times, because I’m a little na´ve. But we really have a lot of fun together and we’ve found out a lot about each other since our third fight last year.

And it’s funny, but after working with both of them, I think B.J. and Robbie Lawler are a lot alike. Those two guys are extremely smart in dissecting opponents and seeing their tendencies, their weaknesses, and figuring out what they’re gonna do in a fight from watching tape. They’re very intelligent cornermen, trainers, and fighters, and it’s been important for me to have both of them around.

So we’ve got a great group here, and when things go this smoothly in training camp, it reminds me that I’ve really got the best job in the world. I walk into the gym twice a day and I love it, I’ve got a crew of guys around me that I love to be around, I still love to work out, I love to sweat and a lot of times when we’re done with practice I’ll still jump on a stationary bike, and I am having a lot of fun. I wouldn’t change my occupation for anything.

In my next blog, I’ll let you know about how the end of camp is going in Utah as I get ready for Sept. 24 and Josh Koscheck.

For more information on Matt Hughes, please visit http://www.matt-hughes.com/ and follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/#!/matthughes9x

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