Saturday night’s showdown between Matt Hughes and Matt Serra is not only a battle ripe with animosity, but it is also a fight that has quite possibly been equalized by time.
A few years back, Matt Hughes was a full fledged 170lb smashing machine. He ruled the welterweight division in a dominating fashion, winning 14 straight fights before running into a speed bump named B.J. Penn back in 2004. After that loss, he racked up six more wins before Georges St. Pierre staked claim on the division. Hughes went on to lose a second time to St.Pierre, and then was TKO’d by Thiago Alves. Although these losses are nothing to be ashamed of, they do show that he is indeed beatable and maybe the hands of time have caught up with him.
In the interim, the corn fed country boy from Illinois has become arch rivals with quick talking, tell-it-like-it-is New Yorker Matt Serra. Serra’s stint on The Ultimate Fighter reality show spawned a mutual dislike between himself and Hughes, and also led him to an opportunity to fight then title holder Georges St. Pierre. He seized the opportunity and shockingly dismantled the champion with a vicious and relentless tenacity, defeating GSP in less then three-and-a-half minutes by way of TKO. Slated to face Hughes after that fight, Serra incurred a back injury that put him on the sidelines for just over a year. His return to the octagon was met with a brutally dominant, one-sided beating by GSP, who reminded the world why he is by quite possibly the greatest fighter on the planet.
It has now been more than two years since either fighter has tasted victory in the octagon. While Hughes is pegged as a slamming, take-down, ground-n-pound, one trick pony, it has undoubtedly proven to be quite effective throughout his career. Serra on the other hand, has been slated as a slick submission wiz who realistically only has one submission in the UFC back in 2002 against a one-dimensional stand up fighter named Kelly Dullanty, who never again fought in the big show.
His submission skills may help him avoid damage on the ground, but it is highly unlikely that he will submit a crafty veteran like Matt Hughes. His greatest hope for victory is in having lightning strike twice (think GSP 1) and connect with one of his jack-hammer like punches. If not, Serra can expect a long night, and a probable loss to the former two-time welterweight champion Matt Hughes.
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