In the semi-main event of UFC 135: Jones vs. Rampage, Matt Hughes (45-8; 18-6 UFC) faces Josh Koscheck (15-5; 13-5 UFC). This Welterweight fight will be a clash between two of the most accomplished wrestlers in the sport. According to the USA TODAY / MMA Nation Consensus MMA Rankings, Koscheck is currently the #7 Welterweight in the world, with Hughes at #13.
This fight was a late replacement for the originally scheduled Matt Hughes vs. Diego Sanchez fight. When Diego went down to injury, his Ultimate Fighter castmate Koscheck stepped in to take his place. On paper, this looks to be a battle of wrestlers. Hughes used his wrestling base to dominate the Welterweight division as champion for years, while Koscheck came into the UFC with very strong wrestling credentials. Over the years, both men have developed a more complete game, with Koscheck focusing on improving his hands, and Hughes his submissions. It will be interesting to see where each man wants to engage for this one.
How do these two stack up?
Hughes: 37 years old | 5'9" | 73" reach
Koscheck: 33 years old | 5'10" | 73" reach
What have these two done recently?
How did these two get here?
Matt Hughes is an all time legend, and stands right alongside GSP as the greatest Welterweight of all time. But he's clearly in the twilight of his career. There was some talk of him making a final run at the top after his impressive win over Ricardo Almeida, but B.J. Penn's quick destruction of Hughes effectively ended that talk. This fight will be very telling for Hughes - can he stick around in a sort of Rich Franklin role, or is this the end of the line for the country boy?
Koscheck makes his return here after a lengthy absence. His last fight was a nasty five-round beating at the hands of GSP that left his eye shattered. He was on a good run up until that fight, but with two losses to GSP, you have to ask if the often hated Koscheck has reached his peak. Like Hughes, he's at a real crossroads here, as he needs to both bounce back from the injury and win big if he wants to move back towards a title shot. A controlling decision over Hughes is unlikely to help move him up.
Why should you care?
Like I said, both fighters are at a clutch moment in their careers, with each man needing a win in order to keep going strong. For Hughes, a loss here could potentially spell retirement, which is reason enough to tune in for me.