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UFC 98:

Hughes mum on grudge match

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Justin M. Bowen

Matt Hughes (left) faces Matt Serra during the UFC 98 press conference Thursday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Hughes takes on Matt Serra at UFC 98 on Saturday night.

A True Grudge Match

The co-main event of UFC 98 features two welterweights who just don't like each other. Matt Hughes and Matt Serra plan to settle their long-standing grudge in the Octagon Saturday night.

UFC 98 Press Conference

The UFC 98 press conference was held Thursday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Launch slideshow »

UFC 98 Workouts

UFC light heavyweight champ Rashad Evans goofs around with media members during a workout Wednesday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Evans takes on undefeated Lyoto Machida at UFC 98 Saturday night. Launch slideshow »

Beyond the Sun

If Saturday's fight against Matt Serra is to be the final time UFC legend Matt Hughes steps into the Octagon, he isn't saying much about it.

Frankly, the 34-year-old isn't saying much of anything.

For a grudge match that's been built up on the basis of the two's open dislike for each other, Hughes has been noticeably quiet in the days leading up to the fight. He skipped an open workout earlier this week and, minus saying a quick thanks to everyone for attending, was equally mute at a press conference on Thursday.

"Thank you everybody for coming out," Hughes said. "I'm trying to be a man of few words today and this weekend."

Hughes's silence is disappointing, considering there are so many questions surrounding the upcoming fight. Most pressing is his perception of his opponent, who has shown no hesitation in displaying his dislike for Hughes.

As many are well aware of, the rivalry between the two stems from several occasions on the reality television series 'The Ultimate Fighter', peaking in the sixth season when Hughes and Serra coached opposite teams.

"Rent season two, go to season four and get halfway through season six," Serra said. "If you don't agree with me, than I probably wouldn't like you either."

Until this week, Hughes had never hid the fact that he wasn't a fan of Serra's as well, but has ditched that strategy this week. If anything, he's downplayed the rivalry, claiming that the media has made it into what it's become.

"I can't sit here and tell you that I hate Matt Serra," Hughes said. "There's no doubt that there's a dislike there. We're two different people coming from two totally different areas. After this fight we're going to go our separate ways and we won't have a reason to talk about each other. You guys are the reason why this fight is as big as it is because of all the interviews and everything that's been said."

Hughes may be staying quiet, but for the most part he's the only one. UFC president Dana White commented on the rivalry, saying it was one of the most bitter he's ever witnessed in the sport's history.

"This is a good one, it's probably at the top," White said. "Especially since it's been so vocal. Usually these things are behind the back but these two do it face-to-face. It's no secret these two hate each other."

The outspoken Serra even admitted that Hughes' silent treatment might be a ploy to make him look bad.

"I can't speak for him, it's funny, he's going to be a man of few words and I'm going to look like the heel of this thing, you know?" Serra said. "I'm in a hard place here."

An even bigger question than Serra may be what the UFC icon is picturing for his future. Hughes is in the last fight of his current contract and many believe that after losing three of his last four fights and suffering a knee injury in his last contest that the legend may be close to calling it quits.

When asked on the subject, Hughes continued to reveal little.

"I got in this sport for one reason and that was to compete," Hughes said. "I never thought I'd be a world champion or make enough money to support a family. When I lose that desire to compete is when I'll be looking for the door and Dana and I will be talking about going down another avenue. But for now, I still love getting in there and mixing it up with one of the guys."

Brett Okamoto can be reached at 948-7817 or [email protected].

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