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Hughes’ latest defeat might be career-ender

As Josh Koscheck rained punches on a downed Matt Hughes at UFC 135 in Denver on Saturday, one of the best careers in mixed martial arts history might have been coming to an unceremonious end.

Hughes, a two-time UFC welterweight champion and Ultimate Fighting Championship Hall of Famer, suffered his second consecutive first-round knockout, absorbing a series of blows in the closing seconds.

Hughes, 37, often spoke of retirement leading up to the fight and had pointed out it was the last on his UFC contract. But there was no big going-away speech in the cage afterward.

In fact, Hughes said just the opposite.

“I’m not retiring,” he said during his post-fight interview. “I’m going to tell the UFC to put me on a shelf and we’ll see what happens after that.”

UFC president Dana White was more definitive after talking to Hughes in the locker room.

“He’s really, really upset,” White said at a news conference late Saturday. “He wanted to win this last fight. I’m almost 100 percent positive he’s going to retire. I just don’t think Hughes wants to use the word retire.

“He’s going to fly out (to the UFC’s office in Las Vegas) in the next month or so, and sit down and talk. I’m pretty sure he’s going to hang it up.”

■ TITLE FIGHT ON CABLE — For the second time in UFC history, a belt will be on the line on cable television this week.

Bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz defends his title against Demetrious Johnson on Saturday in the main event of UFC on Versus 6 in Washington, D.C. The fight airs live on Versus (Cable 38) at 6 p.m.

“It feels like I’m back in (World Extreme Cagefighting),” Cruz said of fighting on Versus. “The level of media you are responsible for is chopped in half.”

Johnson was a WEC fighter who came over when the organization was absorbed by the UFC. He has won both UFC bouts and is excited about the added exposure of the world’s top organization.

“It’s been nice for the lighter weights to get a bigger stage in the UFC,” he said.

That will likely be magnified after Saturday, when the bout is shown on a network available in about 76 million U.S. homes.

The only previous title bout on cable was a light heavyweight belt unification fight between then-UFC champion Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and Pride Fighting Championships title-holder Dan Henderson. It took place in London and aired tape-delayed in the U.S. on Spike TV.

Cain Velasquez will defend the heavyweight title against Junior dos Santos on Fox on Nov. 12.

■ STRIKEFORCE CHALLENGERS — Antwain Britt tries to end a two-fight losing streak when he meets Lumumba Sayers on the next Strikeforce Challengers card at the Palms on Nov. 18.

Unbeaten women’s prospect Ronda Rousey also will compete on the card against Julia Budd. Rousey has won all three pro fights by submission within the first minute.

The organization also said women’s featherweight champion Cris “Cyborg” Santos will fight for the first time since June 2010, defending her belt against Hiroko Yamanaka. No date or venue was announced, but the fight could be part of a Dec. 17 card in San Diego that might also include a lightweight title bout between Jorge Masvidal and champion Gilbert Melendez.

Contact reporter Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com or 702-224-5509.

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