by Ken Pishna – MMAWeekly.com
UFC president Dana White on Thursday revealed that Matt Hughes would make his next appearance in the Octagon in April. He hinted at Renzo Gracie as Hughes’ opponent, but didn’t outright confirm it.
“Sounds good to me,” he said of the proposed bout through a Cheshire grin.
Well, Hughes took care of the rest on his official Web site later in the day.
“I see that Dana has let the cat out of the bag. So I can tell you what I know, on April 10th I will be fighting Renzo Gracie in Abu Dhabi,” the former UFC welterweight champion wrote. “I haven’t signed any paperwork and I don’t think Renzo has either; but I think this fight is going to happen.”
He indicated that he would begin “serious training” at the New Year.
Not only does Hughes’ post firm up the bout with Gracie, who also talked about it in a recent Portuguese language interview, but it also firms up a date for the UFC’s debut in Abu Dhabi.
Gracie (13-6-1) hasn’t fought in nearly three years, but is on a three-fight streak that includes wins over Frank Shamrock, Pat Miletich, and Carlos Newton. Hughes (43-7) hasn’t fought since a May win over Matt Serra, who is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt under Gracie.
The fight is a prime example of bouts that have an intriguing story line, but don’t necessarily have title implications, something the UFC could use as it struggles to hold together headline bouts while the majority of its champions are injured or otherwise on the sidelines.
“Sometimes it’s not about where’s the guy been. There’s this whole beef about Renzo choking out Pat Miletich (Hughes’ friend and former trainer),” commented White. “Sometimes guys just want to fight, and Renzo’s been training. He wants to fight Matt Hughes and Matt Hughes wants to fight him.”
There’s a fight that Gracie would like to avenge, as well. Hughes defeated Renzo’s cousin, Royce, by TKO at UFC 60.
It’s not at all surprising that the bout would take place in Abu Dhabi. Renzo has served as the personal jiu-jitsu instructor to H.H. General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi. The Gracie family in general is very popular in Abu Dhabi due to its ties with the Sheikh and his family.