People are wondering what Matt Hughes’ next move will be (other than of course some quality time back home with his tractor). Should “The Country Boy” be put out to pasture or allowed to go hunting for a win in the Octagon? In an interesting question to be sure given his recent performances coupled with his legendary status in the sport.

First and foremost it’s Hughes’ decision to make. It is a right he has earned by becoming one of the greatest welterweights in MMA history as well as a basic level of respect he deserves as a man. He may have been knocked out twice in a row, but any fighter can get caught and it isn’t as though he’s losing to chumps. Also, he looked relatively sharp against Josh Koscheck last weekend at UFC 135 before the fight-ending sequence of strikes in the final seconds of the first round.

If he decides to call it a career on a losing note, so be it, but I don’t think that will be the case. He is too proud to hang up his gloves on such a sour note.

Rather, Hughes should recollect himself and come back in early 2012 against a relatively beatable opponent with name value rather than a “Top 10” contender. Two names that spring to mind are Dan Hardy and Yoshihiro Akiyama. Each are interesting options, Hardy being a colorful striker in a fight perfectly suited for a UK event, or Akiyama being a well-rounded veteran with high-level judo and a huge following in Japan. The latter match-up would be perfect for February 26 when the UFC heads to Japan in terms of being a bout the always-knowledgeable Japanese fans would have a great amount of appreciation for given their past accomplishments in Mixed Martial Arts.

Then, assuming he wins, he can either ride off into the sunset as a victor or at least have a better gauge of what he should do next instead of feeling forced onto the shelf.

What do you think about the subject on today’s “Opening Round”? Tell us on our Twitter account (@mmatraining)!