Exclusive Interview: Matt Hughes ‘Ready for Matt Serra’
By Dave Carpinello
PDG: Matt thanks for taking the time today.
Matt Hughes: Yea not a problem.
PDG: Since your last fight at UFC 68, a unanimous decision victory over Chris Lytle. There has been a lot going on in your career. Let’s start with your decision to move your training camp from Iowa and Team Miletich to Granite City, Illinois.
Matt Hughes: Yes we are moving from Davenport to a little city close to my house. It has nothing to do though with Pat Miletich. He is like a brother to me but with my family in Illinois I really just wanted to be close to them. We’ve got a 14-month old daughter that I don’t want to leave a week at a time to go train. It is a better fit for me and family to be able to be at home every night.
PDG: What other fighters besides Robbie Lawler are looking at joining you at the new gym?
Matt Hughes: That is it as far as fighters that are moving from Iowa. Matt Pena, the boxing coach and Mark Fiore who is the head Greco Army coach are also going to be helping me out. We have had several calls and emails from fighters including current UFC fighters that are interested in joining us. So it looks like it is going to work out well.
PDG: When will the gym be opening?
Matt Hughes: Right now it is under construction and after completion it will be about 13,000 square feet. It is going to be a full gym with an extensive weight room, cardio equipment and about 4,000 square feet of mats. It will also have a cage side and a boxing side with full equipment. The new gym will have everything.
PDG: Robbie Lawler; after his victory last Saturday night at the Elite XC show against Murilo “Ninja” Rua. There seemed to be some action in the ring that followed.
Matt Hughes: There was nothing between our corner and Ninja’s. We were not happy that the fight went as long as it did. I just really feel that the fight could have been stopped 10 seconds earlier.
PDG: Do you think the fight should have been stopped when Ninja hit the ground?
Matt Hughes: Well maybe after he hit the ground let Robbie hit him with one or two punches. I counted 10 extra punches though afterwards that didn’t need to happen. I don’t think that Mario Yamasaki did a good job as far as stopping the fight. He didn’t do any good to Ninja, the organization (Elite XC), or for us. If something bad would have happened with those last couple of punches it would have been bad for the sport.
PDG: Lawler did look pretty impressive in his victory.
Matt Hughes: Yes, you don’t want to get hit by one his punches. He definitely hits hard.
PDG: Obviously a lot of MMA fans watched the first episode of the new season of The Ultimate Fighter on Wednesday. How excited were you to be able to get Mac Danzig on your team?
Matt Hughes: That was great as you know Mac brought in the most amount of experience. He was also someone that the other guys could relate to. That is about all I can say about that. I can’t be giving away any secrets.
PDG: The first episode looked good and it seems like it will be an entertaining season.
Matt Hughes: Yea it looked good. That is one of the things though about those types of shows. I don’t know how they will be airing and editing the show for television.
PDG: Back to your upcoming fight with Matt Serra in December. When will you start training full time?
Matt Hughes: I start training in mid October but I am still running and lifting daily.
PDG: Breaking down the fight with Serra. What do you see as his strengths and weaknesses’ and vice-versa?
Matt Hughes: Well with Serra, it is obvious that he has heavy hands. He did knockout Georges St. Pierre. He has some good submissions on the ground. His weaknesses would be that I think he is weak, physically. I don’t think that he is very athletic. Serra doesn’t have nearly the experience that I have and mainly I don’t think he is as strong as I am.
PDG: Alright let’s go from your career to MMA and the UFC in general. Steroids; Do you think that more fighters are using or that with the new testing regulations that more fighters are just getting caught?
Matt Hughes: To be honest I really don’t know why there has been such an increase. That brings up a good point though. All I can say is that I have never been a fan of steroids and personally I have never taken any. One question I do have though is about Sean Sherk testing positive for steroids. He really takes care of his body so if Sean says he didn’t do it then I have to believe him. Sean doesn’t even like to walk through a crowded casino because the cigarette smoke. I really don’t know what for or how they are testing the fighters. I really don’t know much about steroids but I have to believe Sean.
PDG: The PRIDE fighters who have come over to the UFC this year. Most have not lived up to expectations. As far as Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic, Dan Henderson and Antonio Rodrigo “Minotauro” Nogueira who wasn’t that impressive in his victory over Heath Herring. What do you think is the difference?
Matt Hughes: There are a couple of things; the difference between the ring and the cage might have something to do with it. The rules in the UFC are slightly different and that could have some effect. The time limits are different and it is a whole new venue and atmosphere. I would expect these guys to shape up after they have been over here for a while. It is a good thing for us guys in the UFC because our stock is kind of rising now because everyone thought these PRIDE guys were untouchable and now they are not doing very well. You know Cro Cop coming over here and winning his first fight but then losing two in a row. I can’t believe it. I would have thought that he would have fought more devastating strikers in PRIDE than the two guys he lost too here.
PDG: Well there is another PRIDE veteran fighting tomorrow night at UFC 76. What is your prediction in the Mauricio “Shogun” Rua vs. Forrest Griffin fight?
Matt Hughes: I think that style wise Shogun is the better athlete. I would have to give him the upper hand in that fight. But you know I would have given Cro Cop the upper hand in his last two fights. So I don’t know anything could happen.
PDG: Main Event; do you think it will be an easy fight for Chuck Liddell or will Keith Jardine give him trouble?
Matt Hughes: I think it is going to be an easy one. I like Keith he was on my season 2 of the Ultimate Fighter. Chuck is a hard guy to strike with though. I really think that Chuck will end this fight in the first round.
PDG: Your future after your fight with Matt Serra. Are fans going to see a Hughes vs. GSP III?
Matt Hughes: I will not be looking past the fight with Serra one bit. I would have to say though that the winner of our fight will fight GSP. I’ll worry about that later and now I will get ready for Mr. Serra. Down the road though I definitely want to fight Georges again and have that rubber match. That is one my goals before I am done in the UFC. Before I retire from the sport we will fight again.
PDG: How many more years do you have in you?
Matt Hughes: I have got a couple of years left in me. There is nothing set in stone in regards to any retirement. I have three fights left on my current UFC contract including the Serra fight.
PDG: Away from the cage; what other community and non-profit programs are you currently involved in?
Matt Hughes: I am a big supporter of an orphanage in Mexico called Rancho 3M. Any autographed card on my website www.Matt-Hughes.com that is sold. The proceeds all go to the orphanage. Then a certain % of the revenue from the rest of the online store also goes to the orphanage. I also stay active by giving speeches at churches and doing mentoring programs.
PDG: Any final message for your fans out there?
Matt Hughes: If there are any current or new fighters that are interested in our new gym you can send us an email on my website and we will get back to you. I also have to thank all of the fans because every PPV buy or seat sold is basically writing my check and so I need to say thanks.
PDG: Thanks and good luck on December 29th.
Matt Hughes: Thanks and take care.
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