Matt Serra. Photo property of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
The long-awaited grudge match between Matt Hughes and Matt Serra is finally upon us. In less than three weeks, the two coaches from the sixth season of “The Ultimate Fighter” reality show will finally clash, over a year and a half since they were originally scheduled to.
Earlier in his career, Serra may have been keen on letting a fight against Hughes to the ground for the chance to submit him. After showing off his heavy hands in one of MMA’s biggest upsets to date over Georges St. Pierre two years ago, Serra is now training in wrestling more than ever in order to keep his showdown with a fellow former welterweight champion on the feet:
As a relatively small 170-pounder, Serra, 9-5, has relied on conditioning, jiu-jitsu and an underrated standup game. Against Hughes, he’ll need to stay on his feet, and Longo says that’s exactly what they’ve been working on.
“We’ve been in training camp about two months now. At first, we just worked on conditioning. He feels great, and his back feels great,” Longo said. “That was (originally) a concern. Between that, he’s doing a lot of sparring and a lot of wrestling. He’s doing more wrestling than I’ve ever seen him do.”
It’s hard to believe Serra will be able to prevent Hughes from taking him down no matter how hard he’s working right now. The ability to wrestle doesn’t exactly come overnight. Serra was taken down at will by GSP in their rematch, but St. Pierre has morphed into one of the best wrestlers in the sport. Chris Lytle and Karo Parisyan were both able to take Serra down multiple times in his two professional fights prior to GSP and neither of them are known for their wrestling.
Even against a Hughes that is a shell of his former self, the only way I see Serra winning this fight is if Hughes opts to keep it on the feet as he’ll be able to dictate where the fight goes throughout. Unfortunately for Serra, all signs point to Hughes returning to his old, effective strategy of the past - dishing out some relentless ground-and-pound. It’s a style that Serra hasn’t been too effective against.
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