Serra looks to take Hughes down
Story by David L. Hudson, Jr.
Photo by Chris Cozzone
UFC fans have waited a long time to see Matt Hughes and Matt Serra settle their bad blood in the Octagon. The two former UFC welterweight champions were supposed to square off at UFC 79 in December 2007. But, injuries intervened and the conflicts that arose on The Ultimate Fighter: Season Six when the two served as opposing coaches could not be settled in the Octagon for millions to see.
It had been fascinating fun earlier in 2007 watching Team Serra vs. Team Hughes and to hear Serra express his distaste for his colleague. But, it would be even more delicious to watch the two feast on each other inside the Octagon. Instead, Serra’s back injury precluded the highly-anticipated grudge match and Georges St. Pierre eagerly stepped in place of Serra at UFC 79 and defeated Hughes in their third bout.
Now, finally at UFC 98 on May 23rd at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, fans will finally get their wish – and nobody is happier about it than Serra.
“I’m happy and I’m thrilled that this fight is taking place,” he said. “Better late than never is what I’m saying. This is a fight that fight fans obviously want to see. So do I.”
Despite their personal tensions, Serra respects Hughes’ wrestling dominance and skills inside the Octagon.
“I respect him as a fighter and his fighting abilities,” he said. “People have misunderstood a bit when I said he was a one-trick pony. He is very dangerous at what he does, which is take guys down and pound on them.”
Serra believes strongly that he has a more diverse skill set that will put him in place to win either standing up or on the ground.
“I definitely feel that I have the advantage standing up with superior striking,” Serra says. “But if it goes to the ground, I’ll be ready to rock.”
Serra believes that the key will be his trademark Brazilian jiu-jitsu skills.
“I really went back to my basics for this fight,” the black belt says.
More than anything, Serra looks forward to facing his rival and being healthy.
“I feel fantastic for this fight,” he says. “The back feels awesome. … I’m not making any excuses in the GSP rematch because I was healthy in the ring, but I was able to train better for this fight. I’m healthy as a horse and had a great training camp.”
On the night of May 23rd, scores will be settled and legacies will be cemented or damaged. Either way, it should be one heck of an entertaining matchup for UFC and MMA fans.