05-21-2009, 05:56 AM
Thursday, May 21, 2009 - by Steven Marrocco - MMAWeekly.com

The grudge match is finally here. On May 23 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, enemies Matt Serra and Matt Hughes will let their fists do the talking and purge 17 months of built up animosity.

Originally scheduled for UFC 79, Serra was forced to withdraw from the bout a month prior with a herniated disc. Replacement killer Georges St. Pierre stepped in to the slot and submitted Hughes in the second round, seizing an interim welterweight belt and forcing the nine-time champ back to the drawing board.

Upon recovering, Serra lost the undisputed title at UFC 83, and Hughes fell further from grace with a TKO loss to Thiago Alves at UFC 85, injuring his knee in the process.

While time and titles have taken some of the luster from the bout, the feelings have not. On a Tuesday teleconference for UFC 98, Serra re-affirmed his feelings for Hughes, and Hughes, putting it mildly, said they were “different people.”

It’s unlikely that next Saturday’s fight will quash any of the bad blood, but the bragging rights will be a lot bigger than a game of bowling.


After years of work in the grinder of Miletich Fighting Systems, Hughes’ has become a proficient striker. Not a great one, but for someone of his background, enough to set up his ground and pound go-to. He throws straighter punches and is more comfortable in the pocket. He mixes stances, recently fighting Thiago Alves as a southpaw. Regardless of which leg leads, though, Hughes’ lead hand defines his striking game. He throws a lunging jab, pecking at opponents before closing the distance. The shots come one or two at a time in short, controlled bursts. He never swings for the fences. Kicks serve as a precursor to an eventual shot. Clinch striking is not his forte, though he does use knees to soften an opponent up before attempting a takedown.

Serra tends to sling himself low and forward on his feet, and similarly uses his jab to minimize his usual reach disadvantage. Once inside, though, he often goes bombs away with power punches. Like Hughes, the shots are often a distraction for the clinch game or a takedown. Still, he lingers in the pocket longer and is willing to throw hands. Serra’s right hand is his moneymaker, and it’s the shot he will commit to fully.


Hughes is wrestling personified. Takedowns, slams, and sheer power on the ground have defined his style. On top, he is one of the best at passing an opponent’s guard and doing damage with punches and elbows. Recently, he’s also showcased a strong game from the bottom, using an active guard to prevent being passed. In losses to St. Pierre and Alves, he’s finally encountered opponents who exceeded his wrestling ability, but he continues to follow the same blueprint for each fight: take an opponent down and work for a TKO stoppage from top position.

Serra’s defining feature is his jiu-jitsu. A Renzo Gracie black belt, his ground attack is rooted in his bottom game, particularly the control of opponents. He ties opponents up from the bottom and inches towards submissions. On top, he doesn’t pour on the ground and pound, preferring to play the position game. And as of late, he’s played a very patient game, happy to slow the action down until a submission attempt or scramble is wide open.


Serra is more tactician than brawler. Not overly aggressive, he measures offense and defense equally, waiting for the right moment to strike. Because he often waits for the action to start rather than initiating, he finds himself countering aggressive fighters. On the other hand, he is more than happy to storm in with a Superman punch to grab a single leg and take the fight down after an opponent has been felt out.

Hughes’ motives are simple: take the fighter down and control him. Every movement is geared towards that goal. More than past fights, he is willing to stand and trade before the drive to the ground. But the end is still the same. He bides his time on the feet before going to the mat.


A relentless worker, Hughes applied his work ethic on the family farm to MMA. He’s got “farm boy” strength, and won’t stop unless hurt. He works tirelessly on his conditioning and since becoming a UFC staple, has never been accused of conditioning problems.

Serra has bounced between the lightweight and welterweight classes, and with his smaller frame, is a natural fit for 155 pounds. Undersized in his recent bouts at welterweight, Serra has been stopped before conditioning could become a factor. Since his return to the UFC via TUF 4, he has not been tested by a consistently high-paced fight. He can sit in guard or drive for takedowns, fighting at his pace, but fighters who push the action wear him down, the last example being Karo Parisyan at UFC 53.


In all likelihood, the fight hinges on whether or not Serra can damage Hughes before he gets taken down. Their hatred of each other might ensure a slightly longer exchange on the feet, but there’s no doubt that Hughes’ will shoot. If Hughes takes a southpaw stance, it could be good news for Serra. But if “The Terror” over commits and ends up on his back, which it’s certain he will, his ability to stymie Hughes will be the question mark the fight hangs on. Even if Serra can delay damage, it will remain to be seen whether he can do it for three rounds in a constant battle for position.

Serra's ability to leverage technique against power will define the fight.


-Catch Hughes with right hand
-Takedown defense, constant movement
-Scramble to feet if taken down
-An early submission from the bottom

-Take the fight to Serra early
-Use jab to close distance
-Back to basics: Takedown and ground and pound


County Mike
05-21-2009, 11:19 AM
Sounds pretty accurate to me.

Hughes wins by TKO via GnP.

05-21-2009, 12:18 PM
I'm not going to be totally surprised if Hughes drops him with a punch. Karo Dropped him. I see Matt bullying him fir the first round relentlessly and then when he comes out gassed in the second round I see Hughes dropping him with a punch and ref stoppage.

Miss Foxy
05-21-2009, 02:06 PM
Finally an article worth reading!:)

05-21-2009, 03:29 PM
Nice analysis, thanks for sharing!

05-21-2009, 04:55 PM
I think that was a pretty fair assessment of each fighter. I hope Matt doesn't run into a knee ala Alves but other than that I think he blows the doors off of Serra, with pace, strength and then some vicious elbows from half guard.

05-21-2009, 05:14 PM
Yeah good analysis of it and it leans towards Hughes as well, Serra really does have to rely on a big KO or sub that comes from a mistake Matt seldom makes.

It going to be tense but i envisage Matt getting the Takedown and patiently working Serra over.

The dream would be a KO standing up or the Crucifix posistion, as he is doing it, Matt can ask him what Serra was saying about him!

05-21-2009, 11:54 PM
I agree with Foxy. Thanks for sharing:punch:

05-22-2009, 02:48 AM
Finally an article worth reading!:)