How Does One Defeat Matt Hughes?

UFC 65 was a night of surprises. Who knew that Tim Sylvia had a ground game, almost choking out a guy (who looked like the love child of Danny DeVito, that guy from The Shield, and a neckless Uncle Fester on steroids) to defend the heavyweight title? Who knew James Irvin would do a better job of knocking his own ass down than would Hector Ramirez? Who knew Joe Stevenson's shirt would put up a better fight than his opponent? Who knew Vera would make Frank Mir his bitch? Ok we kinda saw that last one coming.

But what about the big event of the night... the Welterweight Title Fight?

Unless you've been living under a rock (or just don't give a shit about the UFC), you know that Matt Hughes is the dominant welterweight in the history of the sport. Corn-fed Illinois boy like me, you either love him or hate him, but you gotta respect him. Love him, because he's relentless in his quest to be the best. Hate him, because it seems like he's unstoppable. Or because of that annoying sanctimonious Jesus fetish he has, as if the Lord gave a shit who won UFC 65.

News flash Matt, Jesus doesn't watch the UFC. He's a Red Sox fan.

Respect him because he has an astounding record of 42-4, having just come off wins against UFC legend Royce Gracie and then BJ Penn, one of the few people to hand him a loss. He is arguably at the top of his game, which includes being one of the strongest ground 'n' pounders in the business; an extremely strong college wrestling career coupled with training under Pat Miletich has left him with formidable striking and submission skills. His raw strength is frightening; he can virtually pick anybody up from most any position and body slam them into submission or unconsciousness. He is very technically proficient on the ground, making him hard to submit, and his striking power guarantees that even staying out of his grappling range makes you unsafe.

So how does somebody like Georges St. Pierre, whose only loss is to Hughes, defeat such a fighter? Simple-- beat Hughes at his own game by fighting the perfect bout. GSP did just that on Saturday.

I like GSP. He reminds me a lot of me, or rather what I'd look like if I hit the gym that much. Aside from that we're nearly the same size and have similar frames. He moves like I do, fast on his feet and gauges ranges very well, and is deceptively strong for his size. If there ever was a fighter designed to beat Hughes, it is Georges St. Pierre. He is nearly as strong as Hughes, having tossed around his share of opponents. His ground game is formidable, as he has a brown belt under Renzo Gracie. He also has wrestling and boxing experience. He, like Hughes, has beaten BJ Penn, which demonstrates he can handle somebody of Hughes's calliber. But Hughes has many, many more fights and much more experience.

Saturday, however, that experience didn't matter. GSP came out light on his feet, dancing around the typically more flat-footed Hughes. And he did everything right. He capitalized on Hughes's lesser mobility by firing jabs to keep Hughes off-balance, and every punch came by stepping off the line to get inside Matt's guard while simultaneously removing himself from the line of fire. He used 2 & 3 punch combinations masterfully, slipping and teeing off Matt's jabs. He fired kicks low and high, mixing them expertly with punches to keep the attacks coming from every angle.

Twice GSP nailed Hughes in the inside thigh of his lead leg with Thai round kicks. Hughes claimed that his groin was struck and GSP received a warning. I don't buy it; if you watch the tape closely, GSP's shin clearly blasts directly into Matt's thigh muscle, and his foot flops residually into Matt's groin. Now I know from experience that when somebody nails your leg with a kick like that and their foot flops into your cup, you don't care about the foot. And if you watch the tape closely, I'm not sure Matt does either; his hands first move to the point of impact and then redirect to his groin a split second later. If I'm wrong, fine, but if I'm right then that was a really smart move on Matt's part to work out the kinks from the leg shots.

GSP did a fantastic job of shutting down Hughes's ground game by positioning his body to neutralize the shoot and employing knees on the rebound to keep Matt standing. That sort of thing is usually Matt's game, yet not only did St. Pierre take it away, he one-upped Matt when he caught one of Hughes's kicks and took the fight to the ground, where once again he controlled the pace. The fight went back to stand-up and Matt was literally saved by the bell when GSP leapt in with a flying punch that connected solidly with Hughes's forehead and knocked him down. Totally jacked him in the noggin. GSP was all over him the second he hit the ground but referee Big John McCarthy had to stop what would have been a first round TKO because of the bell.

Second round, more of the same. GSP executes the perfect setup for a Thai cut-kick and sends Hughes to the mat again, then moments later his strategy of harrying Hughes with low and high strikes (and especially leg kicks) pays off; Matt Hughes drops his guard to catch what he thinks is a low kick, and GSP slams his shin into Matt's head. Hughes goes down, dazed, and GSP falls on him, blasting with punches and elbows. Big John wisely calls the fight.

GSP won big, and not just by being in top physical condition and fighting a technically proficient bout. He won because he never let up mentally. You can see it from the first instant he entered the ring, his energy was boundless and from the moment the bell rung, he was 100% focused on his objective. He got in Hughes's head and took him apart bit by bit.

Whew. What a night. I can't wait for this rematch.

You can find the fight here until it is taken down due to copyright issues.

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I never intentionally use derogatory terms like that except as ironic mocking of their existence in the first place. Kind of like underhanded swipes at institutionalized racism and sexism; I do that quite often.

If you read my blog you should know that by now. Everything with a grain of salt here ;)

Hey, I wrote you privately! You can't write me back privately?

I will never accept that all, or even any of your readers will necessarily understand irony from what you wrote. And, as I indicated, the costs of using such words are clear - look at Gernsbacher's work with resolving pronoun anaphora if you need any proof. Why, in this day and age, should a reader have difficulty with encountering "doctor" and then "she" a moment later as the anaphor? Only because of the frequency of use of "Doctor" and "he"! And you insist that some non-detected ironic use of "making someone your bitch" will have a positive effect? Give me a break.

Didn't say it would have a positive effect, did I? That was you putting words in my mouth. But I'm sure you can find a study to justify THAT as being acceptable behavior

/rolling my eyes

News flash: I don't care what you accept because you don't control what my readers think. If you have a problem with that, take it to your own blog.

Apologies for not writing you back directly, I had 3 things going on this morning. Saw this in my email and assumed it was a comment off the blog that got sent to me automatically. Not sure that gives you a right to be rude here, but whatever.

I will absolutely take up the issue on my own blog.

I don't think I'm the one being rude, however - you seem to be pretty charged up about the issue.

Meanwhile though, I guess you'll continue "underhanded swipes at institutionalized racism and sexism" for no reason at all then. Clearly, you weren't intending to have an effect with such delicious irony.

My understanding of the blogosphere is that when Person A brings up a point and even provides a rationale for why they think something out to be the case to Person B, Person B responds with the same seriousness with which the constructive criticism was made. Perhaps I am too naive.

Aaaaah yes, I'm quite charged up about "the issue". Please. I'm mildly annoyed at you. Big difference.

Meanwhile though, I guess you'll continue "underhanded swipes at institutionalized racism and sexism" for no reason at all then. Clearly, you weren't intending to have an effect with such delicious irony.

Clearly, then, you know better than I re: what is going on in my head. Film at 11... oh wait, there can't be because I didn't say that either!

But no, you're not being rude at all. :)

My understanding of the blogosphere is that when Person A brings up a point and even provides a rationale for why they think something out to be the case to Person B, Person B responds with the same seriousness with which the constructive criticism was made. Perhaps I am too naive.

Perhaps you shouldn't project the reasons you use the internet onto others, and you wouldn't be having so many misunderstandings.

Here's my original email - I thought it was pretty nice!

Whatever the case, I won't press this issue further, except to further elaborate the reasons for my objection in my own blog. I do sincerely thank you for suggesting that I do so.

"Subject: your Matt Hughes post

I love reading your blog, and I learn a lot from it. On a personal note however, and you can go ahead and call me PC, I abhor the use of "bitch" in the way you use it right up front on the post. "Making someone your bitch" is not funny, to me anyway, and it promotes automatically held stereotypes.
A cognitively-oriented scientist ought to be familiar with the vast amount of work on the subject of stereotypes and their power; why add, even in the slightest, to those voices that would demean and condemn?

Just my 2 cents, and sincerely,
Michael Anes"

To say nothing of the pronoun squabble currently underway, my response to this post, and fight, is: YES!!

GSP is both a genuinely good guy and excellent fighter. I didn't know he had won until reading this, and am now going to watch the fight vid while waiting for aliquots to thaw (thanx for the link, btw).

While Hughes is awesome, I lost a great deal of esteem for him after learning about the aforementioned god preoccupation(see also Diego Sanchez).

GSP w00t!


I never said that it was your original email I found rude. Third erroneous assumption. Given your track record today, perhaps the problem lies not with me or my blog?


jtdub, hope the link works. The fight was very good. Probably the best example of circling/sniping vs. the straight-line charger I've seen in a while. Hughes was off-balance the whole fight and knew it.

The link is still good, and I say again: AWESOME.

GSP was amazing. The takedown defense at the end of the first round? Unbelieveable. Hughes' legs had to be weak from GSP chopping him down, but still.

Incidentally, I agree that thre was little to the groin shots. But you can understand Hughes taking what he would get (in the way of time to rest); those shots were brutal.


Er, "there was little", rather.

I also love the respect and camaraderie between the fighters. Matt smiles every time he gets tagged, he's clearly enjoying himself. And the high-five after the surprise spin kick to the gut was priceless, almost adorable.

Yeah, can't wait until Diego Sanchez goes down. Getting tired of his arrogance. I thought for sure Parisayan was gonna take him but he completely gassed out in Round 3.

LEG CHECK!!! Geez, did Hughes somehow sleep through the "how to block a leg kick" part of his training? I cannot imagine that Miletich wouldn't have taught him how to do a simple leg check. You only have to try to block a leg kick with your arm once in a sparring match to have it drilled into your head (literally) why you should never do that again (for the non-fighters: blocking a low leg kick with your arm means leaving your head partially undefended for an incoming punch or kick).

Hughes was lucky that he didn't get his legs broken taking those leg kicks flat-footed as well.

But the final mistake was the one that everyone in Taekwondo, Shotokan, Muai Thai, Kenpo, or any other style with lots of kicks learns in their first match: Don't drop your head. Ever. Head kicks are a bitch *rubs jaw*

What, you thought GSP was giving Hughes words of encouragement after the match with the "keep your head up" remark" Hell no, he was mocking him for making such an elementary and inexcusable excuse.

(Why yes, I am gloating at watching a wrestler finally comprehend that there is more to standup striking than just punching and kicking...sue me)