Is Serra fight Hughes' last stand?
The Matt Hughes train is headed to the UFC Hall of Fame. The question is, is Las Vegas on Saturday night the final stop before enshrinement?
Hughes is near the top of most UFC all-time lists. The two-time welterweight champion is tied with Randy Couture for most wins in championship matches with nine. He’s tied with Tito Ortiz and Anderson Silva for most consecutive successful title defenses with five. He’s second to Randy Couture for most total time as champion at 52 months. And he’s tied with Tito Ortiz for second place behind Chuck Liddell for most UFC victories, with 17.
During what most would consider his peak, from 2001 to the end of 2006, when he dropped the title for a final time to Georges St. Pierre, he went on a 19-1 (including two wins outside the UFC) tear.
When UFC president Dana White pushed him as “the greatest welterweight of all-time,” during the build for his most famous match, a UFC 60 win over Royce Gracie, there was virtually nobody who tried to pick apart the statement because it was almost impossible to argue.
Hughes has repeatedly said that he’s not the kind of fighter who wants to be the former champion who becomes the stepping stone for young fighters to make themselves stars, and the subject of retirement has been broached by him a few times.
Ed Soares, Krzysztof Soszynski and Chael Sonnen sound off on UFC 98 and so much more
UFC 98-featured fighters Krzysztof Soszynski and Chael Sonnen, as well as MMA super-manager Ed Soares, were the featured guests on MMAmania.com’s exclusive presentation of Pro MMA Radio this week.
First up was Soares, the manager of Brazilian legends such as UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva, former PRIDE and UFC heavyweight champion Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, former WEC middleweight champion Paulo Filho and the number one-ranked 205-pound contender, Lyoto Machida, who has his title shot against Rashad Evans at UFC 98 on Saturday.
Soares was quick to play up the potential for the fight, saying that it could prove to be “one of those fights that people talk about for the rest of their lives.”
Stephan Bonnar says Matt Hughes is retiring after UFC 98
First, Matt Serra dropped some hints that he's at least entertaining the idea of retiring after Saturday's UFC 98 event.
Now, it's his opponent's name that's popping up in recent retirement talk.
On the latest edition of ESPN's "MMA Live," UFC light heavyweight Stephan Bonnar said he heard directly from Matt Hughes that the former champ will call it quits after his fight with Serra.
"I've heard it from Matt Hughes' mouth that this is going to be his last fight – I think win or lose," said Bonnar
UFC Quick Quote: Tito Ortiz is ’still a force to be reckon with’ based on UFC 98 main event
“Well, to start it off, I think Machida will win by what Joe Rogan calls, ‘elusiveness!’ or in my words ‘hit and run.’ This will be a great test for Evans to find the range to get the takedown. Machida is the favorite in my experience with both fighters. Never mind there’s only one of the fighters that are undefeated truthfully. That mark one on Rashad’s record isn’t a draw. It’s nice to see that one guy I almost submitted will be the champ and the other that I beat is the champ. I’m still a force to be reckon with.”
– Former UFC light heavyweight champion Tito Ortiz tells PunchDrunkGamer.com that he’s still got game because he’s given the UFC 98: “Evans vs. Machida” main event participants all they could handle. “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” battled current 205-pound champ, “Sugar” Rashad” to a draw at UFC 73: “Stacked” back in July 2007, but more than likely would have won the bout if he didn’t get docked a point for grabbing the fence in the second round. He then had Machida in big trouble courtesy of a triangle/armbar submission attempt late in the third round of their bout at UFC 84: “Ill Will” in May 2008. He eventually dropped the contest to “The Dragon” via clear-cut unanimous decision. So what say you … is Tito Ortiz still a major player at 205 pounds or can he still compete (and beat) the best in the world?
UFC 98 Preview w/Monster, Ortiz, Miletich, Thomson & More!
Nate Quarry – “Serra/Hughes is the fight I'm personally tuning in to see. Ever been to a UFC and seen a fight break out in the stands? Everyone turns to watch it. Why would they want to see two drunken brawlers instead of two well conditioned athletes? Because of the passion the drunken idiots have. We're addicted to seeing this personal part of people's lives. It's what makes us tune in to reality shows. We want to see those raw emotions on display. It's one of the few taboos left in the world. Well, guess what? That's what we get to see with Hughes and Serra. Two guys who don't like each other. One farm boy and one New Yorker. Hughes plan is going to be the same as always. Take him down and ground and pound. But Serra is going to be very tough to do that to. He's got very fast hips and is built well for reversals and submissions. And Serra has proven he has knock out power in his hands. I don't generally give predictions because I usually get them wrong but... I've got to go with Serra on this one.”
Perfect timing: Cain Velasquez on his new UFC 99 opponent, Cheick Kongo
Cain Velazquez: I feel good about my new opponent. At this stage, I think he is a tougher opponent. I thought he was in line for a title shot next so that makes me feel good. I will definitely have to change up my gameplan now.
He has a long reach and is very strong fighter. He has improved his take down defense. I will be really focused on my take downs and also working to sharpen my kickboxing skills. Overall, I want to be fast, explosive and just stay calm out there.
UFC 98 Press Conference Notes
Today the UFC held its press conference in anticipation for UFC 98 with UFC president Dana White leading the way with all four main event fighters joining him on stage.
White noted the historic significance of Saturday's fight, “The main event for the light heavyweight title on Saturday night, for the first time in UFC history, that two undefeated fighters have faced off for the title.”
The challenger Lyoto Machida was short and sweet with his thoughts on the fight, “I’m very excited and I’m looking forward to this fight. I will try to finish this fight before the end.”
This will be Rashad Evans first title defense and he hopes to keep the title for a long time as he mentioned in his comments for the fight.
Al-Turk Confident He Can Handle Cro Cop
Mostapha Al-Turk says he is confident he can take out Mirko 'CroCop' Filopovic in what will be the biggest fight of his career at UFC 99.
Al-Turk is coming off a loss to Cheick Kongo so could be forgiven for wanting a safer fight, but he told UK newspaper The Mirror that he is happy to fight Filopovic (pictured).
I feel good. I feel like I've got the tools and the know-how and the skill to deal with him and beat him,”
With Anthony Johnson out of TUF 9 Finale, Matt Brown follows suit
Just one day after Anthony Johnson (7-2 MMA, 4-2 UFC) was forced to bow out of his June 20 fight, original opponent Matt Brown (9-7 MMA, 3-1 UFC) has done the same.
Sources close to the bout informed MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) that Brown has elected to rest and heal some nagging injuries rather than seek a replacement opponent.
Both fighters have been removed from the UFC's official listing of The Ultimate Fighter 9 Finale, which airs live on Spike TV.
Medical Beat: Could the UFC benefit from having a medical director?
I was surprised to discover that the dominant brand in the fastest growing sport in the world does not have a medical director. Apparently the UFC does not appreciate the potential benefit of having in-house medical counsel.
For better or worse, physicians respect the opinion of other physicians when it comes to medical matters. Not to say that other individuals and professionals due not on occasion have valid medical opinions, but it is very difficult to get a doctor to entertain them.
Yoshida Works With Jackson's Camp For UFC 98
The education of a mixed martial artist never truly stops. For Japanese Judoka, Yoshiyuki Yoshida, the learning curve came at the expense of a knockout loss to Josh Koscheck in December 2008, but he believes he has learned from the mistakes he made, and is ready to return at UFC 98 this Saturday night.
For his last bout, Yoshida was expected to be a tough match-up for the former NCAA wrestling champion, but what many thought would be a ground war turned into a stand-up fight that the Japanese fighter lost in the first round.
Leites-Sakara Official, Completes UFC 101 Card
With the confirmation today of Thales Leites vs. Alessio Sakara for the card, the UFC 101 card is now final. The 11-fight card is headlined by BJ Penn vs. Kenny Florian for the UFC Lightweight Title and Anderson Silva vs. Forrest Griffin. Leites-Sakara will be a prelim.
Sean Sherk Would Like To See Shinya Aoki Take Off His (Stretchy) Pants
UFC Lightweight Sean Sherk thinks ranking systems like BloodyElbow's and others that rank fighters like Kenny Florian and Shinya Aoki ahead of him make no sense. As for Aoki, Sherk says he's got no boxing, no wrestling, nothing except those pants. So Sherk would like to see Aoki and others like him in UFC, where he can't wear the pants.
221-pound Sonnen takes on Miller because Herman wouldn't
The politics of fighting has put Chael Sonnen in an interesting position. When Yushin Okami had to drop out of his UFC 98 fight against Dan Miller, UFC matchmaker Joe Silva gave a call to Team Quest and Matt Lindland looking for a replacement back on May 1st.
Lindland was asked about Ed Herman, who just saved his job with a win over David Loiseau back at UFC 97 on April 23rd. Lindland told Silva that Herman was a go.
When "The Law" finally tracked down Herman, "Short Fuse" said he didn't want the fight. Lindland then called Sonnen, who was driving to the gym, and told him now he was in a lerch. Sonnen took the fight not realizing that he was 221 pounds with only 22 days to cut the weight to reach the middleweight limit of 185.