UFC 117 is almost upon us, so I am trying something different with my regular buildup series, "What's the Deal and Why Care?"
With the Main card so stacked, I thought each fight on the card deserved a bit more singular attention.
I have already taken a look at Clay Guida vs Rafael dos Anjos here and now let's turn our attention to the first of two Welterweight clashes on the main card in Oakland.
Matt Hughes vs. Ricardo Almeida
What's the Deal?
Former UFC Welterweight Champion and UFC Hall of Famer Matt Hughes returns to the octagon to take on Ricardo "Bog Dog" Almeida.
Hughes is looking to return to the top one last time after two big back to back wins over Matt Serra and Renzo Gracie. A win over Almeida would be big and will prove that he can still mix it with the younger lions as well.
Almeida will be looking to add to his impressive debut at 170lbs at UFC 111. Currently on a three fight win streak Almeida will also want to get revenge over Hughes who beat his friend and trainer Renzo Gracie last time out.
A win over Hughes places Almeida firmly in the contender mix.
Hughes has quietly rebuilt himself after the devastating loss to Thiago Alves back at UFC 85. With a two fight win streak over recognizable names it not out of the question to still see Hughes as a top tier fighter in the division.
A win over Almeida would leave the former Champ right in the mix and could mean a block buster clash in his next fight.
The 'Country Boy' is older but he still has the wrestling and all round ability to cause his younger opponents a lot of trouble. As if you needed reminding here is a little reminder of what Hughes can do.
This is easily Almeida's biggest fight in the UFC.
The BJJ black belt is currently on the cusp of the Welterweight elite and a win over a former Champion would do his career a lot of good. Should Almeida win on Saturday he would move to 2-0 at Welterweight and onto a four fight win streak with a career 13-3, that ladies and gents is a solid record.
The fight at UFC 117 is also a perfect test of Almeida's all round abilities. To beat Hughes he will need to withstand a top draw wrestler and an underrated striker.
With 170lbs division littered with elite level wrestlers this fight will really let us all know where Almeida sits in the division.
For now enjoy this little vignette.
When this fight was announced my initial reaction was that Almeida should get an easy win in this fight and continue to climb the ladder. However as the fight moves closer I feel that I may have overlooked the former Champion a little bit.
Hughes at least appears to still have the hunger and desire to compete at the very top of the sport.
The question is how do you judge him when his last two fights were against Gracie and Serra. Good fighters but neither will be challenging the top guys in the division anytime soon.
Hughes has the better striking and despite his superb wrestling if this fight hits the floor I have to favor Almeida.
Umm, I'll go Almeida by second round submission.