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Old 05-17-2009, 03:52 PM
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Default Hughes V Serra Moves From Reality To Real

ďIíll tell you this for sure, Iíve got one more fight left in me. Matt Serra needs to come up with a game plan now. My wife wants it. I want it. And I know these fans want it, too.Ē

Such were the words of Matt Hughes nearly one year ago after losing to Thiago Alves at UFC 85. New week, on May 23 at UFC 98, that fight will finally happen. In reality, it's been much longer than a year in developing.

The two were supposed to have faced each other at UFC 79 after serving a stint as coaches on Season 6 of The Ultimate Fighter. Serra, however, had to withdraw from the bout due to a herniated disk in his back.

ďThis is the hardest thing Iíve ever had to do,Ē Serra said at the time. ďIím devastated, especially because this was such an important fight. I was looking forward to fighting Matt Hughes... All I can do now is to get better and to fight again as soon as possible.Ē

Instead of fighting Serra for the welterweight championship the New Yorker had surprisingly taken from Georges St. Pierre at UFC 69, Hughes accepted a rematch with St. Pierre at UFC 79. He was handed a second defeat via the Canadian, then moved on to be TKO'd by Thiago Alves at UFC 85.

Serra didn't return until UFC 83, where he was soundly defeated in his own rematch with St. Pierre, giving up the title and taking some of the shine off the still desired grudge match with Hughes.

Hughes, however, suffered a knee injury in the bout with Alves and has been on the sidelines until now.

Both are healed up and ready to finally step in the Octagon together on Saturday night. And despite the lengthy delay for both of them since their last bouts, the fan anticipation has steadily grown as UFC 98 nears.

"Yes, weíve both had injuries but I mean that happens in our sport when youíre as rough on our bodies as we are. But I mean I think the fans still want to see it," said Hughes recently. "Obviously, him and I still want this fight to go on. So the bottom line nothingís really changed."

Serra agreed, "There was a big build up, and unfortunately I had to withdraw and that killed me at the time. And Iím just happy that itís happening man. Iím thrilled that itís going to be happening on the 23rd; better late than never you know."

The animosity between the two really goes back to season four of The Ultimate Fighter in the fall of 2006 when Serra was a contestant as a former UFC fighter trying to make a comeback, whilst Hughes was a coach opposite Georges St. Pierre. Their open criticism, stemming from a personal dislike of each other, really started to make itself known to fans during that season.

After all this time, at least for them, their disdain for each other hasn't waned. And for those that ask the question, Serra insists that none of their friction is manufactured. They just plain don't like each other.

"Nothingís manufactured here. Thatís whatís really Ė that I have to stress to people. Theyíre like, 'oh man, you know is that all fake, the TV?' Iím like no, not really, because basically if the cameras arenít there Iíll be doing the same thing.

"I didnít have any agenda you know with anything as far as I do this and itíll lead to this and that. I think itís great. I mean, it creates a hype, and people like Ė they like going in there wanting to see me either get beat down or me to beat down Matt Hughes.

"A lot of times some of the greatest fights are what builds them up, with like Ali and Frazier and whatnot, you know, with the pre fight stuff. But this one is just genuine.

"The only fight I want to fight right now, the only person I want to fight is Matt Hughes. I feel like itís something that never got finished. We were on that show together. And itís not only for us, for everybody, for the fans, for us, for everything."

And on Saturday night, at UFC98, everybody who wants this match-up will finally get it.


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