UFC 112 - Matt Hughes v Renzo Gracie - Welterweight Fight
The match-up between MMA legends Matt Hughes (43-7) and Renzo Gracie (13-6-1-1) could be a very close fight.
If this goes to the ground it could be a fascinating match that the residents of Abu Dhabi will love. One mixed martial artist is an outstanding wrestler, the other a master of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
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Hughes is a dominant wrestler with brutal ground and pound and excellent submissions. He has won the UFC Welterweight title on two occasions and has 16 wins inside the Octagon (a record he shares with Chuck Liddell), defending the belt a record seven times. He has defeated champions Georges St-Pierre, BJ Penn, Matt Serra, Carlos Newton (twice), Sean Sherk and MMA pioneer Royce Gracie. There have also been two classic matches against fellow wrestler Frank Trigg.
Renzo Gracie is, of course, a member of the heralded Gracie family that is credited with developing the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu we know today. He is a 6th degree black belt in BJJ and has trained the likes of welterweight champions Matt Serra and Georges St-Pierre. He has also been the personal jiu-jitsu teacher of the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi since 1993, so he should have plenty of support come Saturday. Gracie is making his Octagon debut at the age of 43, having fought in Pride for many years. He holds victories over notable fighters Pat Miletich, Maurice Smith, Oleg Taktarov and Carlos Newton.
There are plenty close links between these two warriors, with Hughes securing a close decision win over arch rival, and Gracie disciple, Matt Serra in his last fight at UFC 98. He has also fought current welterweight champion St-Pierre on three occasions, who has helped Gracie to prepare for this clash. Most notably though was the dominant victory Hughes had over Royce Gracie at UFC 60 in 2006, which Renzo will be desperate to avenge. Likewise, Renzo holds a 2006 victory over Hughes's long time trainer Pat Miletich, which should add further spice to the occasion.
A key aspect to this fight could be the fact that Gracie has not fought in over three years, since Frank Shamrock was disqualified for kneeing him in the head illegally. In that period Hughes has been in the cage four times, winning twice and losing twice. The tactics should be simple: Gracie wants to get Hughes on his back and submit him, Hughes will use his power to pound his way to victory. Although Hughes is an excellent grappler, he has been submitted by the likes of BJ Penn and St-Pierre. It is highly unlikely that Hughes will get the chance to submit Gracie, so will look to land his powerful right fist, either standing or the ground.
Both are very tough competitors though and there is every chance this could go the distance. If that is the case, then Hughes' Octagon experience may just see him home.