Thursday, May 21, 2009

Fight Week Previews: Serra vs. Hughes

Earlier in the week, I wasn't really psyched about this fight. I mean, it's been two years in the making and that is a long time coming.

But now that Saturday is on the horizon and I've been scrutinizing the fight card a little more, this one is starting to intrigue me again.

Matt Serra (9-5) versus Matt Hughes (42-7)

There are no two ways about it - Matt Serra and Matt Hughes don't like each other and this one is to settle the score. It's also a battle between an automatic Hall of Famer and a guy who might very well be the most unlikely champion the UFC has ever had.

Both are coming off serious injuries so we'll call the time off factor a wash. And it's not like one had a bum arm and the other a broken foot or anything either; neck and back issues sidelined Serra, while Hughes had ligament damage after eating Thiago Alves' knee.

Hughes absolutely smashes Serra on the experience and strength of competition levels, having run up that impressive stretch of dominance during the formative years of the UFC.

Common opponents is an interesting avenue to travel, as both have wins over Chris Lytle, each has a loss to B.J. Penn (though Hughes also has a win) and both men have faced Georges St-Pierre more than once, with Serra 1-1 and Hughes 1-2.

For all the talk about Matt Serra's ground game, I can't remember seeing him execute a single submission. In fact, I can't remember him beating anyone of relevance other than GSP. While that does count for something, it is also looking more and more like one hell of a career-making punch.

On the other hand, I can show you video after video of Hughes slamming opponents to the mat, sinking in submissions and pounding his way to victory.

But I can't shake the thought of that GSP punch. As much as Hughes has the better pedigree and everything comparatively to his advantage, Serra has the devestating knockout that everyone remembers and you know he's going to be swinging for the fences.

The rational side of me thinks Hughes uses his experience and smarts to waer down the smaller man and score a decision.

The gunslinger in me thinks Serra lands a haymaker and ends Hughes' career on a very sour note.

I'll tell you which side I'm going with on Saturday.

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