Matt Hughes finishes career 45-9

Updated: January 24, 2013, 7:15 PM ET
By Franklin McNeil | ESPN.com

CHICAGO -- Former UFC welterweight champion Matt Hughes officially announced his retirement from mixed martial arts on Thursday.

Before Hughes took the podium at United Center, where he publicly ended his fighting career, UFC president Dana White announced that the Hall of Fame member will join the promotion as its vice president of athletic development and government relations.

"Matt is one of those guys that was there from the early days and helped grow MMA into the modern, professional sport it is today," 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."

According to UFC COO Lawrence Epstein, some of Hughes' responsibilities will include helping fighters understand "the heightened social responsibility that comes with being in the public eye, to best practices when dealing with endorsements or managing finances."

The 39-year-old Hughes first claimed the welterweight title in November 2001 with a second-round knockout of Carlos Newton at UFC 34.

After five defenses, Hughes lost the title to BJ Penn by first-round submission at UFC 46 in January 2004. But he reclaimed the title nine months later with a first-round submission of Georges St-Pierre.

"I've experienced ups and downs in my career and found that the UFC has supported me every step of the way," said Hughes, a two-time Division I All-American wrestler at Eastern Illinois University. "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."

Hughes concludes his MMA career with a professional record of 45-9. He was inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame on May 28, 2010.