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UFC 135 preview: Will Josh Koscheck force Matt Hughes into retirement?

The UFC 135 co-main event will feature a welterweight bout between Josh Koscheck and former welterweight champion Matt Hughes. This is an interesting matchup in that Koscheck actually called Hughes out a few years ago and Hughes said he had no interest in fighting Koscheck. Now the time has come where they will finally meet after Koscheck agreed to fill in on short notice for an injured Diego Sanchez. Let’s see how this one shakes out.

Josh Koscheck brings  a career record of (15-5) with 4 wins via TKO/KO and 5 wins via submission to his credit. Koscheck has been out of action for quite a while since suffering an broken orbital bone in his title fight against Georges St. Pierre at UFC 124 last December. Koscheck is a great athlete with a well documented collegiate wrestling background that likes to throw huge overhand rights to try and knock people out. He is also versed in submissions and has a solid chin.

Matt Hughes brings a career record of (45-8) with 20 wins via submission and 10 wins via TKO/KO. Hughes was last seen in action getting blitzed by BJ Penn back at UFC 121 last November. Hughes had won three fights in a row prior to that fight dating back to 2009. Hughes is known for his brute strength, wrestling, and underrated submission game.

Bet on Fighting has Koscheck as the betting favorite at (-470) and Hughes as the underdog at (+370).

I think those odds are on point in that Hughes is basically fighting a younger version of himself. I think at this stage in the game Hughes has two advantages in that he is technically a better striker and I think his ground game is better than Koscheck(of course he has the edge in experience).

I think Koscheck is the type of fighter that would want to show Hughes that he’s the superior wrestler. I think Koscheck watched Hughes beat opponent after opponent by taking them down and pounding them out or submitting them years ago, and probably wants to try to make a statement by doing the same to Hughes now. I think he is certainly more than capable of doing it. I think Hughes will be conservative standing while expecting the takedown attempt. The only thing he has to worry about with Koscheck is the big overhand right that he likes to wind up and throw. If he can keep it standing or even take Koscheck down I think he could win the fight. Hughes could also catch Koscheck in a guillotine while he shot in for a takedown. While Hughes has the advantage in submissions, I don’t see him submitting Koscheck from his back.

Ultimately I just think the youth and athleticism of Koscheck will be too much in the end with Hughes probably ending up like Frank Trigg did at UFC 103. A loss via TKO. Then Hughes will probably announce his retirement afterwards since this is the last fight on his current UFC contract.

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