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Frank Trigg on Becoming MMA Referee: 'I Can Really Save' Fighters' Careers

Matt Hughes has Frank Trigg in a rear-naked choke. It's April 16, 2005 -- UFC 52 -- and with just over a minute remaining in the first round, Hughes stretches Trigg's body to its limit. Trigg's ribs push against his skin as he tries to breathe. Hughes' legs are wrapped around Trigg's waist, pulling his hips to the floor as Hughes curls his elbow underneath Trigg's chin -- and pulls.

Trigg doesn't think he should be here, though he isn't thinking very much at the moment, other than how to escape from the hold Hughes has on him. Just three minutes earlier, Trigg thought he had won the fight. And now he's feeling the welterweight championship slip away with each second that Hughes squeezes his forearm against his throat.

How did he get here? Just 52 seconds into the fight, with Hughes backing away from him, Trigg landed his left fist to the side of Hughes' face. Hughes' limp body dropped to the floor of the cage. As Hughes fell, Trigg pounced, raining punches: left jab, right cross, left hand, left hand, left hand. Hughes was pinned underneath him as Trigg threw his left over and over again.

But the referee never stepped in, and as the seconds ticked on, Trigg tried another approach. A minute after dropping Hughes to the ground, Trigg managed to leverage his dominant position into an attempted chokehold of his own. It would avenge his first loss to Hughes, which was by rear-naked choke.


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