In the UFC, when one door closes, another opens, and on December 29th, that adage will ring true once against when Matt Hughes battles Georges St-Pierre for the interim UFC Welterweight Championship in the main event of UFC 79: Nemesis, at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.
St-Pierre replaces UFC Welterweight Champion Matt Serra, who was forced to withdraw from his bout with Hughes last week due to a herniated disc in his back.
“Obviously, the loss of Matt Serra was brutal, but the great thing about the UFC is that we can put together great fights like Hughes-St-Pierre at a moment’s notice and bounce right back,” said UFC President Dana White. “I have the utmost respect for both Hughes and St-Pierre for stepping up for this fight, and not only are the fans going to see two of the greatest welterweights of all-time settle their score in a rubber match, but they’re going to do it in a five round interim title fight, and the winner is going to face off next year against Matt Serra for the undisputed title.”
Hughes and St-Pierre are no strangers to one another, having fought twice with vastly different results. In their first bout at UFC 50 in October of 2004, Hughes won the vacant welterweight crown with a first round submission victory. In their November 2006 rematch, St-Pierre evened the score with a second round TKO of Hughes to win the 170-pound title. On December 29th, the two will settle matters once and for all.
“I’m so excited to get this fight,” said St-Pierre. “I’m fighting Matt Hughes for the interim title right now, and then after that I’m going to go after Serra. I’ve wanted that rematch against Serra, and this is the best scenario that can happen.”
Waiting in the wings will be the champion, Serra, who will have an odd rooting interest that night.
“I can’t believe the position this puts me in,” said the New Yorker, who won the title from St-Pierre and was looking forward to settling the score with the man he has been coaching against and trading barbs with on the sixth season of The Ultimate Fighter, Hughes. “I’m actually rooting for Matt Hughes so I can beat his ass.”
UFC 79 also features the long-awaited superfight between the two greatest 205-pound fighters of all-time, Chuck ‘The Iceman’ Liddell and Wanderlei ‘The Axe Murderer’ Silva, as well as an intriguing bout between Lyoto Machida and PRIDE star Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou, who will be making his UFC debut. Tickets are on sale now.