UFC 98 Official Preview: Who Will Be The Undefeated Champion?

Mark PareCorrespondent IIMay 22, 2009

On May 23, UFC 98 will emanate from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Vegas with a couple of highly anticipated bouts.

First, the long awaited confrontation from Season 6 of "The Ultimate Fighter", former Welterweight Champions Matt Hughes (42-7) and Matt Serra (9-5).

Hughes' recent history is a tale of twos.  Two fight losing streak, losing to the two competing for his former belt at UFC 100: current champion George St. Pierre and Thiago Alves.  Hughes last won two years ago against Chris Lytle at UFC 68 via a unanimous decision.

Serra's last two fights were his series against St. Pierre, winning the belt at UFC 69, getting injured before the originally scheduled Serra/Hughes fight at UFC 79 and coming back for UFC 83 against St. Pierre in Montreal, losing the belt in the trip.

Before the St. Pierre series, Serra faced Lytle in "The Ultimate Fighter" Season 4 finale, winning the fight and the title shot in the process.

Hughes is a legendary wrestler but has faltered as of late, losing three of his last four fights, all in the second round.  We will have to see if he can get back into the form that before this recent string, had the future HOF'er winning 19 of 20 bouts.

Expect a stoppage on the ground for this one as both will look to utilize their specialties: wrestling and jiu jitsu.

The other much hyped bout on the card is the battle of the undefeated and the battle for the Light-Heavyweight Championship as champ Rashad Evans (13-0-1) faces Lyoto Machida (14-0).

Evans will be defending his belt for the first time since winning it in December from fellow TUF alum Forrest Griffin.  Evans has come a long way since defeating Brad Imes to capture the season two championship, using many elite fighters as stepping stones to his path to the belt.  The list includes Chuck Liddell, Michael Bisping, Stephan Bonnar and the infamous draw against Tito Ortiz at UFC 73.

Machida isn't one to blow wind at either.  Most of his 14 wins have come against great competitors.  Even early in his career, Machida found a way past current and former champions such as Rich Franklin (New Year's Eve 2003 ), BJ Penn (March 2005) and Tito Ortiz (UFC 84) before his most recent bout, knocking out Thiago Silva in yet another battle of undefeated fighters.

This one will probably turn into a slugfest and with both in possession of massive knockout power, it could be lights out early for either Evans or Machida.

UFC 98 is live on May 23 at 10:00p.m. on PPV and is also being shown at various locations all around cities near you, check your local listings.