by Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com
Matt Hughes was readying himself for one of the biggest grudge matches in Ultimate Fighting Championship history when Matt Serra had to pull out of the fight due to a back injury. Instead, Georges St-Pierre stepped in on short notice to settle the score with the former UFC welterweight champion in the third match of a series in which each fighter has won one bout apiece.
Taking place on Dec. 29 in Las Vegas, the bout is for the interim welterweight title with the winner unifying the welterweight category in a bout with Serra once he returns from injury.
“I really wanted it to be a title fight because I think people are expecting Georges and I… it will be a highly anticipated fight, I just think it ought to be for a title,” Hughes said about the fight with St-Pierre. “I’m very comfortable going five rounds. I’ve been going five rounds for close to three years now.”
Much has been made about St-Pierre taking the fight on short notice and Hughes doesn’t have a problem possibly using that to his advantage.
“If it caught Georges in a situation where he hasn’t been training that long, then good for me,” he said.
The last time Hughes and St-Pierre faced off, the French Canadian won the bout, stunning the former champion with dominant stand-up and takedown defense.
“I did a lot of things wrong,” stated Hughes about his mistakes in the last fight with St-Pierre.
After the fight, though, he regained his focus and went back to the foundation that made him quite possibly the greatest champion in UFC history.
“You win so many times, you just get kind of stuck in a rut to where you don’t think you’re doing anything wrong,” Hughes commented. “I got back to my roots of hard work, actually, hard work and wrestling. Of course you’re going to learn from a loss.”
In St-Pierre’s last fight, he took a page out of Hughes’ own playbook, using dominant wrestling to simply overpower his opponent, Josh Koscheck, a former NCAA wrestling champion.
“What Georges does very well is mixes the two together – fighting and wrestling – where Koscheck does not do that well, mixing the two together,” Hughes said, complimenting his opponent. “I wasn’t surprised.”
He is expecting another tough fight from St-Pierre and he believes that to be a champion he must do everything right in this fight, whether standing or on the ground.
“I’m a big believer in you’ve got to be able to win everywhere and so you’re never going to be able to put your opponent in the most dominant position all the time,” said Hughes. “You’ve got to be able to win everywhere. That’s my mark for a true champion.”
For Hughes to regain the welterweight title, he will have to defeat St-Pierre for a second time in his career. If he is successful, he may once again solidify himself as the greatest champion in UFC history.