Pros Pick: Hughes vs. Gracie

By Mike Sloan Apr 9, 2010
Former UFC welterweight champion Matt Hughes already has a victory over a Gracie on his resume.

Hughes took on original UFC champion Royce Gracie in May 2006 in what amounted to a shellacking in favor of the Illinois farm boy. This time around, however, the all-time great will challenge Royce’s cousin Renzo Gracie in a UFC 112 bout on Saturday that many expect to be more competitive than the original Hughes/Gracie showdown.

Renzo has long been thought of as one of the best fighting Gracies. He has never been afraid of tough competition and has submissions as good as anybody. However, he’ll be making his UFC debut at 43 years of age.

It’s an intriguing battle no doubt, pitting wrestler versus submission ace, though both men have more in their repertoires. Both are also in the twilight of their careers, which could be another factor.

Who will prevail? caught up with dozens of professional fighters and trainers to gauge their opinions on the fight:

Nick Thompson: Derrick Noble and I are in a tiff right now because he says I don’t pay him enough attention. I just think that after a hard day’s work, I should be able to come home and play one game of Madden to unwind. In any case, as such, I will have to pick by myself this week. Hughes via unanimous decision.

Junior dos Santos: I think Renzo will surprise Hughes with his excellent jiu-jitsu and get this victory.

Jay Hieron: Gracie (via) rear-naked choke in round two.

Brian Warren: I got Matt Hughes on this one. I have gotten my last two picks right and I believe Matt wins this one. He is too strong for Renzo, standing and on the ground. Hughes by ground-and-pound.

Patrick Cote: Renzo will submit Hughes! I mean, I hope so!

Tom Gavrilos: Hughes is in big trouble. No way is he pounding out Renzo. When he is on top, he will have to do all he can just to stay out of danger in Renzo’s guard. Standup goes to Renzo. All Matt can really do is put him on his back, which is not a bad thing for Renzo in this case. Hughes’ big advantage is his gas tank. Renzo submits Hughes.

Pedro Rizzo: I think Hughes is the favorite, but I bet on Renzo because he is a great champion and a very tough fighter. I think he gets an arm or neck and submits him.

Marcio Barbosa: I think it's a fight with a 50-percent chance for each. They are two great fighters. … Renzo has great conditioning because he trains with excellent athletes, and his ground (game) is much better. Renzo shows that he is alive and wins this fight.

Michael Guymon: I see Matt putting Renzo on his back and wearing him down with his ground-and-pound and eventually stopping the fight with strikes in the third round.

Scott Epstein: I would love to see Renzo run a sub clinic on Hughes, but that ain't gonna happen. Hughes by anything other than KO.

Jose Aldo: Renzo wins by submission. The fight will be tough -- Hughes is excellent -- but Renzo submits him.

File Photo

Hughes is an underdog to the pros.
Robin Black: Renzo Gracie by some submission not yet named. It will involve a choke, a kneebar and an omoplata simultaneously. It'll be so cool, it could snap the space/time continuum and make interweb jiu-jitsu nerds wet their pants. Which is awkward, since their mothers do their laundry.

Ray Elbe: Renzo Gracie grabs the rear-naked choke like a fat girl taking home the staggering drunk as the bar closes.

Marcus Davis: I’m a big Renzo fan. Matt, although he has seen better days, has been UFC champ more than anyone. Also, the UFC is his comfort zone, and Matt Hughes is a tough first UFC fight for any man. Hughes by Dec.

Roan Carneiro: I believe 100 percent in the victory of Renzo. I met him last week and never saw him so well physically and mentally. I think he submits him.

Keith Berry: Renzo Gracie is a solid fighter, but he’s a straight jits guy and Matt is a wrestler with bomb jits, too. So I see this fight being a decision for Matt and making him 2-0 against the Gracies.

Mike Ciesnolevicz: A few years ago I would say Hughes would win this fight, but now I’m not so sure. Matt Hughes doesn’t train as hard anymore, as I can remember him only training for two weeks for the Sean Sherk fight and about eight days for the Chris Lytle fight when he was on top of his game. Hughes is somewhat one dimensional, relying on takedowns, which plays into Renzo’s game. On the other hand, Renzo is 43 years old and has never fought in the UFC, but Renzo has a strong fighting spirit and is a real warrior at heart so I’m sure he will be game. Hughes won’t be able to manhandle Renzo like he did to Royce. I really hope the fight goes to the ground so we can see these guys match strengths instead of an awkward standup battle. I really have no idea what is going to happen here.

James Zikic: Renzo Gracie to redeem the family name by second round rear-naked choke.

Stephane Vigneault: I see Renzo winning a decision. I am tired (of seeing) Hughes in the UFC. Renzo (via) decision over Hughes.

Thiago Goncalves: I think that Renzo wins by submission in the second round or by judges’ decision.

Pat Miletich: If Matt can avoid the early submission attempts by Renzo, Matt will grind Renzo out. Renzo is known to gas in later rounds, so I'm putting money on Hughes.

Cristiano Marcello: I believe that Renzo wins. He has an aggressive style and a very technical ground game. Even if he gets taken down, I see no problems with him coming out with a victory.

Thales Leites: I think it will be a great fight. Two icons of MMA, great fighters, and I think that Renzo will win the judges' decision.

Vitor Ribeiro: I think we’ll have a first round with too much studying, and soon after I see the Brazilian trying to define the fight. I think we may see some casual (offense) from Hughes and a perfect guillotine choke by Renzo, winning by submission in the second round.

Pros who picked Hughes: 7
Pros who picked Gracie: 16
Pros who couldn’t decide: 1

Gleidson Venga contributed to this article. You can contact Mike Sloan at
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