UPDATE: Hughes to Fight Koscheck. Sanchez Out
UPDATE: Matt Hughes has officially agreed to terms with Zuffa and will fight Josh Koscheck at UFC 135. Both men are strong wrestlers and have improved striking. It should be an exciting bout! Original post below…
Matt Hughes is a legend in MMA. A former UFC Champion, he’s been in several wars in the Octagon™. His September 24th bout with Diego Sanchez looked to be another one. A fighter that would provide a good test for Hughes, letting us know where he sat in the division. He’s even trained with BJ Penn, who really took it to Diego when they fought, to maximize his planning.
All that went out the window when Diego Sanchez broke his hand during training, as tweeted by Dana White.
Leaving Matt Hughes most of the way through a camp, and with no opponent.* Now, Hughes is at a point in his career where the UFC isn’t going to just match him up with anyone. It doesn’t serve Hughes or the UFC to put a lopsided fight as a co-main event, and with many of the top fighters in the division either already committed to other fights or on injury suspension from recent activity, the list is a short one.
In Steps Koscheck?
Josh Koscheck’s last fight was for the title against Georges St. Pierre, in December, 2010. He should be very well recovered from that loss and ready to go. The UFC approached him and he agreed, per Koscheck’s twitter, although as of this writing we’ve yet to hear that Hughes has agreed, but it looks like it’ll be Hughes-Koscheck co-headlining UFC 135 in Denver.
Koscheck would seem to fit the bill perfectly: He’s a big-name fighter who just fought for the title. Not to mention he’s built up a bit of a reputation as a villain, as much as the UFC has, and Hughes is the perfect all-American hero type. It would be an easy fight to promote and as they both have solid wrestling pedigrees, most likely an entertaining stand-up battle.
But he’s not the only one who would be a good replacement for Sanchez. Martin Kampmann, Rory MacDonald and Brian Ebersole are also fighters that would be a good match for Hughes. Let’s not forget Jon Fitch, coming off a draw with BJ Penn in February.
Given the nature of the sport, and the demands of the training involved, you would imagine the UFC has a short list of fighters ready to go for any headline or co-headline event. It remains to be seen whether Matt Hughes deems any of them a worthy opponent.
*I really want to make a joke that both Tito Ortiz and Charlie Brenneman offered to fight him, but this is a news item, not a WHAT?! item… 🙂