Exclusive: Matt Hughes Part 2: GSP vs. Condit, GSP vs. Silva and BJ vs. Rory MacDonald
The welterweight division has had its share of dominant champions, Hughes included. Georges St. Pierre is the latest champion who has defeated everyone the UFC has put in front of him. After suffering through a dry spell where there weren’t many legitimate contenders it looks as though the division is on a huge upswing with guys like Carlos Condit, Martin Kampmann and Johny Hendricks leading the charge. It seems as though GSP has a lot of formidable opponents on his docket as he returns from knee surgery including a unification bout against Condit at UFC 154.
“GSP has a tough fight coming up against Condit on the 17th, but if he has got his timing down I think he will get his hand raised that night,” predicts Hughes. “I’m not sure what Condit can do to have his hand raised, I don’t know what kind of game plan he can come up with. To be honest with you I don’t think Condit has the necessary tools to beat St. Pierre.”
“There are a lot of good guys that are going to give Georges fits when he fights them. Two things are going to start wearing on GSP, number one, mentally he’s going to get somewhat bored being the champion. It’s not going to be as challenging to him anymore, mentally he has to stay sharp. Physically when you train at a gym like Tri-Star you beat your body up. It becomes an everyday routine and you have to learn how to spice things up. GSP is going to continue to get older, it happens to all of us, with all of that he has to go to the gym and try to be a better fighter than he was before.”
Talk of GSP facing some of the newer contenders might be a moot point at this time because the UFC is looking to book GSP in a super fight against middleweight champion Anderson Silva. In fact the UFC will have Silva sitting cage side and may bring him inside the Octagon should GSP defeat Condit. Fans are split on who they think will win should the two champions square off. Hughes is very familiar with GSP and has his own thoughts on the potential match-up.
“I really believe if GSP and Silva fight Georges will have his hand raised,” Hughes said confidently. “I have a lot of respect for Georges having lost to him twice. GSP is not a great wrestler, but he transitions so well from striking to wrestling that he will be on Silva’s legs before Anderson even knows what’s going on. I believe Georges is that quick and I don’t think Silva will be able to do a whole lot with Georges on top of him.”
“Georges is going to be in great shape, he always is and I don’t think Silva would be able to use his weight advantage on GSP to try and tire him out. If anyone will get tired I think it will be Silva because he’s not going to be in the positions he wants to be in. Georges will put him in some bad situations and I think GSP will do well in the fight and walk away the winner.”
“If I was Georges I would tell the UFC if they want to make this fight between the two of them they should contest it at 185lbs. and Silva should put his title on the line. If Georges is going to fight Silva he might as well add the additional weight and try and get a belt out of the deal. That’s the way I would look at it, the price for me would be an opportunity to unify the two titles. I just wonder how long GSP would need to get his body prepared to make the move to 185 would it be a year off. It would be interesting to see how much time he would want. I wonder how hard his cut to 170 is, if he’s having a hard time then maybe it’s time to move up to 185.”
Another one of Hughes’ rivals, BJ Penn is preparing to make his return to the Octagon after a 13 month layoff when he faces a protégé of GSP’s, Rory MacDonald at UFC on Fox 5 in December. Some are labeling this match-up as the old guard vs. the new guard or the grizzled veteran vs. the hungry young lion. Having faced Penn three times as well as having trained with him, Hughes is able to offer some interesting insight on what we can expect come December 8th in Seattle.
“It all depends on which BJ Penn shows up,” Hughes said. “I’ve been following him a little bit so I know he’s in shape and he’s looking great. If the right BJ shows up he’s going to be the one who gets his hand raised. If BJ shows up and gasses after the first round or halfway through the second then he could have some problems. One thing I’ve always said about BJ is he will fight anybody. It doesn’t matter what weight class they are in, he’s fought Machida, BJ will fight anyone. If you challenge BJ you’re going to get a response back.”