by Jeff Cain – MMAWeekly.com
Matt Hughes is set to defend his UFC welterweight title for the 8th time at UFC 56: ‘Full Force’ against ‘The Diesel’ Joe Riggs. Former UFC Heavyweight Champion Tim Sylvia knows a little bit about the two fighters competing for the welterweight title this weekend; he has trained with both of them. Sylvia discussed the title bout to MMAWeekly SoundOff Radio.
Hughes was originally set to face Karo ‘The Heat’ Parisyan, but an injury forced Parisyan out, and Joe Riggs accepted the fight on relatively short notice. Does Joe Riggs even have a chance to defeat the most dominant champion in UFC history? According to Sylvia, “There’s always a shot in this sport. There’s always a shot at someone beating one another.”
Questioned about Joe Riggs’ assets, Tim replied, “He’s very fast. And he’s a guy that doesn’t life weights. He’s built like a brick shit house. I mean a Strong, strong kid, and he’s very fast…He and I spar. We fool around and stuff. We call it a dancing contest because whenever he and I spar I’ll hit him like once or twice and he’ll kick me two or three times. The rest of the time we’re dancing around because he’s worried about my cross. Whenever I hit him with the jab, I get hit with two punches. He’s got cat-like reflexes. He hits just really quick and hard.”
Tim Sylvia has mixed emotions about Matt Hughes vs Joe Riggs as I’m sure many in the Miletich camp do. Joe Riggs has been preparing for his last two fights in Salt Lake City with long-time friend, training partner, corner-man, and teammate of Matt Hughes; Jeremy Horn. Sylvia eventually did give his opinion on who would win.
Tim said, “Joe’s a young talented guy. He’s very strong, very fast, so he definitely has a shot. Joe’s young. He’s 23. Matt, he’s 31 I think. I just don’t think it’s time for Joe yet. He so young that it will be his time, but I just think that Matt and his experience is going to win this fight for him.”
Matt Hughes does have an experience edge heading into this match, but not as significant as some may think. Hughes has a 37-4-0 Mixed Martial Arts record compared to Riggs’ 23-6-0. ‘The Diesel’ has 29 fights under his belt in four different weight divisions.
Hughes is known for his ground and pound fighting style, but what about Joe’s ability to ground and pound? Sylvia said, “His ground and pound is devastating. Joe, when he ground and pounds, he doesn’t care. He’s not like the normal guy who sits in the guard and tries to throw punches and elbows. He rears up and throws a punch, and he doesn’t even aim.”
Although Riggs has competed as a heavyweight and recently dropped down from the middleweight to the welterweight division, Tim feels that Matt Hughes is the stronger of the two physically. “Matt’s a freak man. I don’t understand. I think it’s really and truly him working on the farm so damn much that all those little muscles that normal people don’t use by being in the gym. He just, everything he does: jumping up an down on the tractors, throwing hail bays around; all the little things he does working on the farm and stuff.” Tim told MMAWeekly.
Closing out the interview, Sylvia said, “Matt’s going to win…second or third probably…I don’t know. I just think Matt’s going to win the fight.”