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Chuck Liddell & Matt Hughes among latest laid off by UFC

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Two very surprising names were among those in yesterday's round of layoffs at UFC -- two of the building blocks of the promotion, Chuck Liddell and Matt Hughes.

Both fighters were believed to have jobs for life, but were let go in cost-cutting measures by new owners WME IMG.

Liddell was UFC's top star after beating Randy Couture when UFC hit television in 2005, as light heavyweight champion. Liddell's fight with Tito Ortiz set a PPV record for the company at the time, and he continued to be a major drawing card until his retirement in 2010. At that time he was named Executive Vice President of Business Development.

Hughes was a two-time welterweight champion and perhaps the most dominant UFC fighter of his era. He had previously set a PPV record months earlier with his win over Royce Gracie, and was in one of the company's most classic fights with Frank Trigg.

Hughes, after retiring in 2013, was named Vice President of Athletic Development and Government Relations.

Ariel Helwani of MMA fighting first reported this news.

A number of employees were let go on Thursday, the second round of major layoffs in attempts by the company to increase the profit margin by greatly reducing costs.

The timing of Liddell and Hughes being let go comes just days after a number of UFC fighters, Cain Velasquez, Donald Cerrone, T.J. Dillashaw, Tim Kennedy, and Georges St-Pierre, who followed Hughes as the dominant welterweight, announced the formation of Mixed Martial Arts Athletes Association, trying to pressure WME IMG into providing more benefits such as a pension and health care for former fighters.