Hughes, Serra still fighting mad

JOSE RODRIGUEZ, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:20 AM ET

Time heals most wounds.

But after years in the making, it's clear only a full out scrap will sort the rift between former UFC welterweight champions Matt Hughes and Matt Serra.

The two ex-coaches of The Ultimate Fighter 6 have not hidden their dislike for each other -- both personally and professionally -- dating back nearly three years.

Yet both seemed fairly reserved earlier this week when they spoke of their much-hyped UFC 98 showdown next Saturday.

Asked if the fight holds less meaning with the passing of time -- they were originally set to fight in December 2007 -- Hughes says the unresolved issues are still there.

"The fans still want to see it. Obviously him and I still want this fight to go on. So the bottom line is nothing's really changed," says Hughes.

A far cry from the man who has called Serra a "one-hit wonder" for his win over Georges St. Pierre and said Serra only went on the reality show because he wasn't good enough to cut it in the UFC.

Serra hasn't shied away from the verbal sparring either, calling Hughes a conceited jerk and a half-dozen other unflattering names.

The heavily accented New Yorker says none of the animosity between the two Matts during the reality TV show was staged.

"Nothing is manufactured here," says the 34-year-old with a 9-5 record.

"A lot of times, some of the greatest fights are what builds them up, like Ali and Frazier and all the pre-fight stuff. But this one is genuine."

On paper, the advantage goes to 35-year-old Hughes, who has a 42-7 record.

But with his heavy-handed display against St. Pierre, Serra believes he has the edge standing up.

"I definitely feel I have the advantage there," says Serra.

"I feel I can do way more damage than he could do. But if it goes to the floor, I'm going to be ready to rock."

Serra, the first American to receive a Gracie black belt in jiu-jitsu, says he's going back to his roots in anticipation of Hughes' ground attack.

"I feel he's very dangerous in what he does and what he does is take guys down and he beats them up," says Serra.

"I know where he's the most dangerous, so I really had to go back to the basics and back to what I really made my name for in the grappling world."

With little taunting leading up to the fight, it would seem both fighters are prepared to do their trashing inside the Octagon.

JOSE.RODRIGUEZ@SUNMEDIA.CA


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