Renzo Gracie Rumoured To Face Matt HughesThe Ultimate Fighting Championship’s rumoured first trip to Abu Dhabi at UFC 112 may feature an intriguing welterweight revenge bout, as former long-time UFC Welterweight Champion Matt Hughes is tentatively set to battle Renzo Gracie, of the famed Gracie family, in a grudge match.

Hughes stopped Renzo’s legendary cousin, Royce, in the first round of their main event bout at UFC 60 in May of 2006, while Renzo submitted Hughes’s mentor, Pat Miletich, four months later. Both will be looking to settle scores in the proposed bout for the historic card.

Gracie (13-6-1, 1 NC) last competed at EliteXC: “Destiny” in February 2007 and was awarded a disqualification victory after opponent Frank Shamrock illegally struck Gracie with knees to the head on the ground. He has fought just four times since 2003, with the lone defeat coming against current UFC Lightweight Champion BJ Penn.

A former contender in PRIDE, Gracie’s standing in the promotion took a significant hit after back-to-back losses to Kazushi Sakuraba and Dan Henderson. He later traded Split Decisions with Carlos Newton in a pair of close and competitive bouts in PRIDE and the International Fight League. Gracie also served as a coach in the IFL.

With the majority of his wins unsurprisingly coming by way of submission, Gracie’s strengths lie predominantly on the ground. He submitted Miletich with a guillotine choke in their headlining IFL bout and will look to do the same in his UFC debut.


Hughes (43-7-0) remains as the most dominant welterweight in UFC history, if not in all of mixed martial arts. His explosive takedowns and well-versed skills in submissions and ground control propelled him to the top of the division on more than one occasion. Short of two quick submission losses to Dennis “Superman” Hallman, Hughes was nearly unstoppable for over eight years.

Recently, however, the dominant Hughes of old has been a thing of the past and he has struggled against younger and faster challengers in the division. A pair of stoppage losses to current UFC Welterweight Champion Georges “Rush” St. Pierre and a one-sided defeat to Thiago “Pitbull” Alves spelled the beginning of the end for Hughes’s reign as a top contender.

Hughes’s 2006 victory over the past-prime Royce Gracie seems like a distant memory now and his most recent bout, a contested Unanimous Decision over heated rival Matt Serra at UFC 98, was an uninspiring performance that some felt should have gone Serra’s way.


In addition to the grudge match aspect of the fight, both Gracie and Hughes have a lot to prove as they seek to remain relevant in the sport. Gracie is rumoured to have signed a six-fight deal with the UFC and will need to be impressive in his debut. A loss would be more detrimental to Hughes than to Gracie, but the fighting days of both men are winding down.

While there has been no official confirmation, UFC 112 is rumoured to be taking place in Abu Dhabi, the capital city of the United Arab Emirates. The showdown between Gracie and Hughes would likely headline the promotion’s Middle Eastern debut.

The event is tentatively set for April 10, 2010.