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Hughes-Serra Grudge Match Delivers


Seldom does a grudge match live up to the hype. But Matt Hughes and Matt Serra lived up to their promises of war, grinding out a 15-minute battle which the judges scored as a unanimous decision win for Hughes.

But the distinguished former UFC welterweight champion had no easy road, and had to overcome a near first-round knockout to recover and capture the final two rounds en route to the win.

Serra had Hughes hurt badly within the first minute of the fight. After an accidental headbutt and a right hand rocked Hughes, Serra followed up with a series of powerful right hands that had Hughes on wobbly legs. But Hughes' experience proved huge as he forced Serra into a clinch against the cage, giving him valuable recovery time. By the middle of the round, Hughes was able to score a takedown and worked to Serra's back, threatening a rear naked choke. But Serra, a jiu-jitsu black belt, escaped. With just seconds left in the round, they got back to their feet, and Serra implored Hughes into standing and trading with him as the crowd roared.

Hughes started to take control in the second, using double underhooks to take Serra down, where he employed his trademark ground and pound to varying degrees of effectiveness. Serra was never in big trouble, but the effort was enough to earn the round on the judge's scorecards.

The third was pivotal. Hughes scored a takedown, but Serra stifled most of his offense with a pair of omaplatas. Then he tried a triangle before the referee stood them up. Late in the round, Serra turned the table on Hughes and took him down, but wasn't able to mount much offense as time ran out, giving the judges the responsibility of scoring the close third round as the decisive win.

All three judges scored it for Hughes. The pair hugged afterward, putting the bad blood behind them as Serra clearly earned Hughes' respect if not the victory that he longed for.

Fireworks in Las Vegas

    Lyoto Machida, right, trades punches with Rashad Evans in the second round of their UFC light heavyweight mixed martial arts match Saturday, May 23, 2009 at The MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Machida won by knockout in the second. (AP Photo/Eric Jamison)

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    Rashad Evans recovers shortly after being knocked out by Lyoto Machida in the second round of their UFC light heavyweight mixed martial arts match Saturday, May 23, 2009 at The MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Eric Jamison)

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    LAS VEGAS - MAY 23: Lyoto Machida celebrates after defeating Rashad Evans (not pictured) by knockout during their Light Heavyweight Title bout at UFC 98: Evans vs Machida at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on May 23, 2009 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Al Bello/Zuffa, LLC via Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Lyoto Machida

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    LAS VEGAS - MAY 23: Lyoto Machida (R) bows to Rashad Evans (L) after Lyoto claims the title during their Light Heavyweight Title bout at UFC 98: Evans vs Machida at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on May 23, 2009 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Al Bello/Zuffa, LLC via Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Lyoto Machida;Rashad Evans

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    Lyoto Machida, right, delivers a right to Rashad Evans in the second round of their UFC light heavyweight mixed martial arts match Saturday, May 23, 2009 at The MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Lyoto won moments later by KO. (AP Photo/Eric Jamison)

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    LAS VEGAS - MAY 23: Rashad Evans falls to the floor after Lyoto Machida (not pictured) knocks him out during their Light Heavyweight Title bout at UFC 98: Evans vs Machida at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on May 23, 2009 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Al Bello/Zuffa, LLC via Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Rashad Evans

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    LAS VEGAS - MAY 23: Lyoto Machida (R) battles Rashad Evans (L) during their Light Heavyweight Title bout at UFC 98: Evans vs Machida at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on May 23, 2009 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Al Bello/Zuffa, LLC via Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Lyota Machida;Rashad Evans

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    LAS VEGAS - MAY 23: Lyoto Machida (R) battles Rashad Evans (L) during their Light Heavyweight Title bout at UFC 98: Evans vs Machida at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on May 23, 2009 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Al Bello/Zuffa, LLC via Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Lyoto Machida;Rashad Evans

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    Lyoto Machida celebrates his second round KO victory over Rashad Evans during their UFC light heavyweight mixed martial arts match Saturday, May 23, 2009 at The MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Eric Jamison)

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    LAS VEGAS - MAY 23: Xavier Foupa-Pokam (R) battles Drew McFedries (L) during their Middleweight bout at UFC 98: Evans vs Machida at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on May 23, 2009 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Al Bello/Zuffa, LLC via Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Xavier Foupa-Pokam;Drew McFedries

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