After scoring an impressive first round TKO over seasoned veteran Frank Trigg at this past weekend’s UFC 103 event, Josh Koscheck announced he’d like to fight former UFC Welterweight champion Matt Hughes.
Hughes is one of the most accomplished fighters in UFC history and is basically guaranteed induction into the UFC Hall of Fame before the end of his illustrious career.
However Hughes recently announced in a blog post on his website, matt-hughes.com, that he is not interested in a bout with top 170-pound contender Koscheck and is surprised to hear the former NCAA Division I wrestling champion call him out.
"I find Koscheck calling me out kind of interesting, and I actually don't know why he is doing that," Hughes wrote. "I was used to kids doing this when I was the champ, but as you know, I don't have the belt now, and I'm puzzled as to why Koscheck wants to fight me and not the champion in the weight class."
I guess Hughes did not watch the UFC 103 post-fight press conference where Koscheck said he does indeed want a rematch with Georges St. Pierre for the championship. Koscheck, a product of the world renowned America Kickboxing Academy is willing to fight anyone in the division to earn that title shot.
Why wouldn’t he want a fight with a legend of the sport such as Hughes? Hughes is not just your average run of the mill former champion. He was one of the most dominant welterweight champions in UFC history holding the title on two separate occasions with nine combined title defenses including a submission victory over current welterweight kingpin St. Pierre.
One can make the argument that Hughes is past his prime and nowhere near the fighter that he once was back in his glory days but the fact remains he’s still a household name and a top contender in the division. A victory over a name opponent like Hughes would catapult Koscheck into title contention and that’s exactly where he wants to be.
So what’s the problem Mr. Hughes? Is Koscheck not a worthy enough opponent for you, sir? Clearly you must understand that Koscheck is ranked very highly in your weight class and a victory over an opponent of his status could deem you the number one contender and a chance at reclaiming your Welterweight crown. After all that is why you’re still competing, to prove you’re still the best 170-pounder in the world, right?
Or, like most former champions are you only interested in putting on compelling matchups for the fans?
If that’s the case shouldn’t you be jumping at the opportunity to step into the Octagon with an exciting big-name fighter such as Koscheck?
"I have no interest in fighting Koscheck, and as he was showing everybody, he's just a kid," Hughes wrote. "As of yet, the UFC has never come to me and asked me to fight him."
It’s one thing to say the UFC hasn’t offered him the fight but to say he has no interest at all in squaring off with Koscheck is mind boggling to say the least. Maybe Hughes is not very confident he would be able to defeat a young lion with the skill set Koscheck possesses?
With the career Hughes has had fighting Koscheck is no different than fighting anyone else so it’s not a matter of fear but it is possible the former champion does not think the matchup will be in his favor. At this point Hughes may only be interested in fights he knows he can’t lose.
Every fight is going to be tough especially when you’re an older fighter competing against young athletic studs but Hughes still has the brute strength and wrestling ability to control a fighter with weak takedown defense.
Surely Hughes won’t be able to out-wrestle Koscheck who other than St. Pierre may be the best wrestler in the division.
Koscheck would use his strong wrestling ability to keep the fight standing up and would give Hughes fits with his superior striking. It isn’t a great matchup for Hughes on paper and that might be why he is reluctant in wanting it.
If UFC matchmaker Joe Silva offered Hughes the fight, he would accept it like a professional, but obviously if it was up to him he would choose to take on someone else. There are plenty of talented fighters for Hughes to fight which would include Koscheck’s good friend and training partner Mike Swick.
Swick is another fighter that is being considered for a title shot so if Hughes were to defeat him it could potentially earn him that almighty fourth bout with St. Pierre for the championship just as a victory over Koscheck would.
Swick is a very aggressive striker but unlike Koscheck might not be able to defend Hughes’s takedowns. On paper it’s a much better matchup for Hughes and just as high-profile as a bout with Koscheck would have been so there is a good chance Hughes will accept that fight.
According to UFC President Dana White, Hughes is expected to return to the Octagon in early 2010. It’s anyone’s guess as to who his opponent will be as he is clearly ducking Koscheck and not showing much interest in any other bout.
Time will tell who the future Hall of Famer will be matched up with next, hopefully said fighter will have strong takedown defense that way we will not have to witness another "lay n’ pray" fiasco from Hughes.
Not to take anything away from the legendary fighter but taking someone down and laying on them like a wet blanket is nothing to be proud of.
Hopefully that won’t be taking out of context but realistically he should be coming off of a loss as Matt Serra clearly defeated him if that fight was judged correctly, which it wasn’t.