Hughes was asked how, as a coach, he would prepare both fighters during a question and answer session prior to the UFC 158: St-Pierre vs. Diaz official weigh-ins.
“It is hard for a slower fighter to be a counter puncher. It just seems like every time you try to counter a quicker guy he’s not there to be hit. A slower fighter needs to get off first. He needs to throw the first punch. He needs to pull the trigger and try and land his punches quickly. I think GSP is going to be the faster fighter,” said Hughes.
“If I were coaching GSP, I’d say, if you’re comfortable on your feet, get in and throw a couple of punches and come back out, out of range, and just do whatever you want. If you feel comfortable taking him down, take him down,” said Hughes.
“If I was coaching Diaz, I would say, hey, if you get taken down, you’re throwing elbows. One elbow can stop the fight. If you get a cut, it’s probably going to get stopped,” said the former titleholder.
St-Pierre has shown tremendous wrestling ability, and Hughes, who was an accomplished wrestler, feels St-Pierre is going to be able to dictate where the fight takes place with his wrestling ability and takedowns.
“The wrestlers have a big advantage in this sport. The wrestlers get to pick where the fight is going to be fought at. If GSP wants to stand, he’s going to stand. If he wants to go to the ground, he’s going to take him down. So I think that’s going to be great for GSP. He is going to be able to control the fight, no doubt about it. I don’t think Diaz is going to bring a wrestling game that is even going to compare to GSP,” he said.
“But if Georges wants to stand with him, I think he’s very gifted. All he has to worry about is two hands with Diaz. He doesn’t have to worry about kicks or knees. Georges has got many tools standing, so he can really do whatever he wants.
“I don’t know what their gameplan is. I know that Georges is going to be faster. Georges is going to be able to control the takedown game, and I think there’s no submission on the ground. I just don’t see anybody submitting somebody, so I think the advantage is going to go to Georges because he’s going to be on top. Most judges see if you’re on top you’re going to win the fight. I don’t think that I really see Diaz throwing an elbow that’s going to end the fight. I think Georges has a lot of good things going for him in the fight,” said Hughes.
One advantage Diaz may have is his conditioning. Hughes feels the later rounds are going to be interesting, and it’s an area that Diaz may be able to exploit.
“If I was Diaz, I would push the fight. Diaz is in great shape. This is the first time GSP is probably going to face somebody that is in better shape than he is, so if I were Diaz I’d push the fight, try and get in GSP’s mind. Hey, I’m here to fight and I’m going to take it to you. He is going to want to brawl. Diaz is going to want to brawl, so I think Georges needs to play the smart game and if he’s coming hard at him just take him down. Don’t keep back-peddling,” assessed Hughes.
“The fourth and fifth round is going to be very interesting for me because that’s when it’s maybe going to wear on GSP. Is this guy really coming at me this hard? Is he going to have better cardio than me? That will be the interesting part, the later rounds.”