MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- When Matt Hughes announced on his Web site last week that he’d be fighting on April 10, the 36-year-old Illinois native did not divulge whom he would be squaring off with or where UFC 112 would be held. However, the former welterweight champion has been long rumored to be facing Renzo Gracie, 42, who reportedly signed a six-fight contract with the promotion recently.
When Dana White was asked Thursday if the Hughes-Gracie bout would he held in Abu Dhabi –- a location White recently scouted himself –- the UFC President answered cryptically.
“Sounds good to me,” he said, smiling broadly.
Asked about making that match, White noted that he respects a lot of fighters in the sport and implied that not every UFC fight has to have title implications.
“There’s this whole beef over Renzo choking out Pat Miletich (Hughes’ mentor) and sometimes it’s more than just; sometimes guys just want to fight and Renzo’s been training, he wants to fight Matt Hughes and Matt Hughes wants to fight him,” said White.
The fact that Sheik Tahnoon, of the Abu Dhabi Royal Family, is a Renzo Gracie black belt, along with White’s own statements on the promotion’s desire to hold an event in the United Arab Emirate’s capital, all point to the UFC’s Middle Eastern debut with this headlining bout.
UFC UK president Marshall Zelaznik told Sherdog.com at UFC 105 in November that he would be heading back to the Persian Gulf in hopes of cementing the deal. He said the window for promoting the show would narrow as the extremely hot summer season approached.