bump for vaks response.
Hughes also faced some lackluster competition while defending his belt. Carlos Newton is 1 fight over .500 in his career, and Gil Castillo is, well, Gil Castillo. I know Newton was a former champ until Hughes beat him, but he certainly isn't a world beater. The two best fighters Hughes has ever faced have both beat him in title fights, also.
At the time that hughes fought Newton, Newton was the champion. He prettty much has to beat him. Further, at the time, Newton WAS considered among the best fighters in the world. Castillo is the only REALLY questionable.
From the time HUghes won the title from Newton, he defended it, on average, every 4.3 months (approx.) Fedor won his belt in March of 2003, defended it in June and August (against Fujita and Goodridge; I assume these are title defenses, but they very well could have been non-title fights). It would be two years before he would defend his title again, against Mirko Cro Cop. Then, he defended it in December of 2005 against Zulu (!) 4 months later...and he would not defend it again for ANOTHER 2 years. That's an average of every 11.4 months for defenses.
His defenses were against Fujita, Goodridge, Mirko Cro Cop, Zulu, and Mark Hunt. That's two high level opponents out of 5. Hughes, to counter, fought Mach Sakurai, Carlos Newton, Gil Castillo, Sean Sherk, and BJ Penn. That's 4 out of 5 high level opponents.
I forgot that the Nogueira fight was made a title defense because at the time, Nog was the interim champion. Normally that wouldn't be a title defense, and I just didn't put it together in my head.
I feel like I'm being generous in allowing the WAMMA title to be in this discussion, but I'll just let it go for now.
Either way, Hughes was defending his title constantly against high level opposition. Fedor has defended his title intermittently, not always against top competition.
Quality of competition isn't the only thing to look at either. Who has lost more title fights, Fedor or Hughes? Who has been stopped 3 times, and who has been stopped none? But back to those fights you listed, another way to look at it is Hughes fought one very questionable fighter, a guy who we now know isn't as great as billed and 3 155ers, one of which beat the shit out of him.
Hilarious article. Hard science indeed.