This isn't 'hoping for the worst' for Matt Hughes, but everyone--including Matt Hughes himself, no doubt--wants to see the champ actually challenged, and wishes to see a true fight for the welterweight crown.
The UFC may well have found a match for Hughes this time around in Georges St. Pierre. The two will have a November 18 rematch in UFC 65 in Sacramento, California.
Right now I'm sure Hughes fanatics are saying, "C'mon, Matt Hughes beat Georges St. Pierre back in 2004, in a big submission loss to the champ." This is true; it was also St. Pierre's very first title match, a situation in which nerves may crack a fighter as well as anything else.
In 2004, a less experienced Georges St. Pierre battled Matt Hughes toe-to-toe, and the champ's boosters often forget to mention that St. Pierre had the toughness and the talent to hang with Hughes for most of the first round. But near the end of the first, the champ found a chance to apply a classic armbar move against the challenger, and won the match with a single second left before the bell.
"When I fought Hughes, I gave up at the end," Georges St. Pierre recently admitted to UFC.com. "When I saw the arm bar coming, I just gave up, I didn't even try to get out."
"It's as honest an answer as you can get," UFC.com continues, "and St. Pierre...took the first and only loss of his career."
One indeed may suppose that this is St. Pierre merely trying to soothe the pain of his loss to the most dominating champ the young UFC sport has ever seen. Perhaps; but then again, maybe not. The one sure thing is that the best proof of a man's talent and character is how he reacts when things aren't going his way. How has St. Pierre handled the loss? What has he done since that time?
Georges St. Pierre has been spending his time destroying top opponents like Jason Miller, Dave Strasser, Frank Trigg, and Sean Sherk. Georges even took a match with B.J. Penn--the last fighter to beat Hughes, by the way--in March at UFC 58. St. Pierre may have taken it to show remaining doubters that he was 'the real deal'; he may have taken it to prove something to himself.
In any case, it certainly wasn't going Georges' way in the first round against Penn. St. Pierre found himself hammered and bloodied by Hawaii's 'Prodigy'.
And that's when it happened: St. Pierre didn't give, he didn't stop, he didn't even flinch. Georges started fighting back hard in the second and third rounds, showing all that he has both the skill and the heart of a possible welterweight champion.
"I wanted to prove to myself and to everybody else that after that bad first round I had with B.J., when everything wasn't going well for me, that I was able to come back, even if I got a beating, and that's what I did," St. Pierre told UFC.com. "I'm more mature, more well-rounded, and athletically and mentally, I'm more prepared...I'm stronger and have a lot more experience."
"He's surely got more confidence since then and I'm sure technically, he's got better too," Hughes stated to UFC.com
Of course, Matt's own story is becoming the stuff of fight legend. The champ has had only one loss since his first title victory in 2001. Hughes is recognized by all as UFC's most dominant champion.
Hughes won his first UFC Welterweight title at UFC 34: High Voltage on November 2, 2001 after knocking out Carlos Newton with a ferocious slam. He successfully defended his welterweight title several times thereafter, defeating Hayato Sakurai, Carlos Newton (in a rematch), Gil Castillo, Sean Sherk, and Frank Trigg.
Matt lost the title to B.J. Penn in UFC 46, but Penn himself vacated the title after a contract dispute with UFC management. In fact it was the tight match between Hughes and the French Canadian contender Georges St. Pierre which allowed Hughes to regain the vacant welterweight title at UFC 50.
So how will the two promote this anticipated rematch? Not by making fools of themselves for the cameras, or pretending that they have some personal grudge against one another. That's refreshing--hell, let's say it, it is adult--for the fight world, which far too often sees an ugly display of egos and fake outrages.
"Matt is a gentleman and I think I am too," the level-headed St. Pierre said. "It's just going to be 25 minutes of business... and after that, win or lose, I will shake his hand."
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