Championship bouts often carry heat, but rematches can bring a different level of vitriol and animus to the Octagon, and that was certainly the case when Hughes and Trigg faced off for a second time.
Hughes won the first outing, submitting the challenger by rear naked choke. He reclaimed the belt by defeating rising star Georges St-Pierre at UFC 50, and then signed up to run it back with Trigg. The challenger called his previous loss a “bad day” and promised a different outcome, while the champion was confident he’d claim another victory.
An accidental low blow less than a minute into the contest put Hughes on the canvas in a defensive posture, but didn’t halt the action, and Trigg understandably seized the opportunity, attacking with ground-and-pound and eventually transitioning to Hughes’ back, where he looked to sink in a rear naked choke.
The champion seemed dead to rights, but Trigg couldn’t complete the choke, and Hughes managed to spin into top position. What followed remains etched in the memory of everyone that has seen it and serves as the moment in the pre-main card montage at UFC live events where “Baba O’Reilly” builds to a crescendo.
Hughes collected Trigg’s body, hoisted him on his shoulder, and carried him across the Octagon, depositing him to the canvas before instantly floating into mount and unloading with strikes. When the challenger gave up his back, the champion gave him a reminder on how to secure a rear naked choke, submitting him for the second time to once again retain his title.