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Speaking From Experience: Pat Miletich breaks down Matt Hughes vs. Renzo Gracie

Just as two fighting legends even the score between one another with Randy Couture’s UFC 109 thrashing of Mark “The Hammer” Coleman, another pair of all time greats step their training up a notch in preparation for UFC 112 in Abu Dhabi, as Matt Hughes and Renzo Gracie are all set to wage battle on April 10.

If there was one man on this planet best suited to give a thorough and experience driven analysis of the match-up, it would undoubtedly be fellow pioneer of the sport, Pat Miletich.

Aside from taking Matt Hughes under his wing and guiding the Illinois born and raised country boy to a pair of UFC welterweight championships before the pair split ways in 2007, “The Croatian Sensation” has the benefit of having been one of the last opponents for the forty-two year old Gracie to square off with (Miletich wound up on the losing end of a picture perfect guillotine choke at the hands of Renzo during the duo’s 2006 IFL meeting).

That’s why made it a point to catch up with Pat to gather his thoughts on the upcoming tussle between two of the greatest fighters in the modern history of mixed martial arts.

“I think the fight with Renzo can be a dangerous fight for Matt,” explained Miletich. “Renzo is much stronger than he looks. He has very good grip strength. Renzo has a really powerful grip, and of course he has really good submissions.”

Of course Pat knows from experience just how surprisingly lethal Renzo’s submission arsenal can be, but one thing to take note of is the founder of Miletich Fighting Systems’ utmost respect for Gracie in the stand up department.

“He didn’t do it with me very much, but with most of the other guys Renzo is more than willing to stand and trade with you,” said Miletich. “Matt’s not a guy that is the greatest boxer in the world. He does hit hard, but he’s not a super technical striker.”

In no surprise, Miletich seems to be expecting more of a chess match between a pair of “thinking man’s fighters”.

“I think there are some traps that Renzo might lay for him in that fight,” said Pat. “Renzo’s a smart guy and Matt’s a smart guy, so it’s a really cool match-up.”

Of course there’s the one sided beatdown that Hughes put on Royce Gracie not so long ago to consider, but Miletich believes that you shouldn’t read too much into that bout, explaining, “Renzo’s a totally different fighter than Royce. Renzo is, in my mind – no disrespect to Royce – five times the fighter Royce is.

“Quite frankly, Renzo doesn’t give a s*** who he fights. He’ll fight, because he’s a fighter. That’s just the way he is. With Renzo, you throw a name in front of him and he says, ‘Sure. I’ll fight him. No problem’. That’s just the way he is.”

While not going as far to offer up a prediction on the upcoming match-up between two men he has a tremendous amount of respect and admiration for, Miletich came as close as he would to making a pick during the conversation when pointing to one deciding factor that could pose the potential to be the deal sealer in the bout.

“I think Matt just needs to basically out-muscle Renzo and wear him out,” said Miletich in closing. “I know that Matt’s endurance will probably be better than Renzo’s, and that’s where the fight could be won.”

  • Dufresne says:

    Matt hasn’t been submitted very many times (4 times in 50 fights), so unless he gets rocked or just does something stupid it’s gonna be tricky for Renzo to tap him out.

    I’m not sure how this is going to go, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see it go to a decision via Matt Hughes lay and pray. His submissions aren’t good enough to take out Renzo, but his wrestling might be good enough to hold him down for three rounds.

  • Rece Rock says:

    From what I remember in his last fight, Shamrock/ Gracie back in Elite xc… Renzo didn’t seem to hungry…

    I think Hughs can in fact control the direction of the fight with his wrestling… and gets the decision

  • fanoftna33 says:

    I think Renzo will surprise a lot on the newer generation of fans here, as he is way better a fighter than Royce with good striking and great submissions. Matt may be able to get a decision but in no way can he beat Renzo the same way he beat Royce. I am really looking forward to this fight though because Renzo has been a favorite of mine since he koed Oleg Taktarov in 96 or 97.

  • hindsightufuk says:

    really looking forward to this one as well, i’m liking all these legends match ups, nog/randy, randy/coleman. i wouldnt be suprised if Renzo chose to keep this fight standing for as long as possible, but you know matt will shoot almost instantly. I see it going similar to the Matt Serra fight

  • Davey D says:

    I am picking Renzo Gracie to submit Matt Hughes at UFC 112. I believe it will most likey end via some type of Choke (RNC, guillotine, D’ Arce). I feel Renzo is going to make the most of this chance and will not slip under the mass pressure that is surley to come.

    I also believe Ricardo Almeida’s recent claims that Renzo will move to 155 after this bout. Gracie lost to BJ Penn via UD in K-1 a few years back and I know that has got to itching at him. Seeing Gracie stick around and become a Champion at 170 in the UFC is probably not going to happen. I like his chances at 155 a lot better, even if he is 42 right now. If he were to fight BJ Penn again, I’d have a hard time locking it in and choosing Renzo but it would be fun to see them fight once more if it ever came about.

  • Davey D: I am picking Renzo Gracie to submit Matt Hughes at UFC 112. I believe it will most likey end via some type of Choke (RNC, guillotine, D’ Arce). I feel Renzo is going to make the most of this chance and will not slip under the mass pressure that is surley to come

    I don’t see Matt getting submitted. I just think he is to strong for Renzo. I really think that the only chance Renzo has is beating Matt on his feet. I agree with Dufrense on this one. Matt will hold Renzo down and hold him there most of the round.

    I don’t see Renzo being in the UFC all that long. He is older and IMO out classed by a lot of the young talent in the UFC. I am looking forward to this match though. I just hope its not another Matt Hughes ground control clinic.

    If Matt comes in determined, then he will role over Renzo but I don’t think he will. I think Matt will come just to win and get some pay.

  • robby says:

    i think if the refs make the fight be continuous action, i say renzo wins. if the refs let it go like the hughes serra fight where they just let hughes llay on serra and do nothing for 4 and 1/2 mins and then stood them up. people say why didnt setrra force the fight to the feet. qwhy should he tire him self out .the refs are supposed to stand the fight up if there is no action serra did his part to stop hughes attack and cause a stalemate . the third rd the refs did it better and then serra took over and hughes was given a present because he didnt win that fight .i sure hope the same thing doesnt happen again or i will really question whether i want to waste money on ppv

  • Davey D says:

    @FightFan313…thanks for your input. I had Matt Hughes losing to Serra. Which plays a part of my decision in picking Renzo. Hughes is as strong as they come but Gracie will want to defend the Honor of a lot of people for this fight. This is another reason for my choosing. Matt has been caught in submissions on a couple occasion’s so it is not as if he isn’t venerable to them. It will be a good fight.

    I’m very much looking forward to this Event, not just this bout alone. UFC 112 should be a fantastic show. It is always fun watching the UFC in the afternoon. If your “313” stands for Detroit…I will be at the Taproom in Southgate watching it at 1pm and most likey again at 10pm. Cheers!!!

  • Lethal Liquid says:

    Where’s the time machine again. Matt Hughes still has some sizzle but he’s competing in fights that don’t have title implications. Would love to see him and Koscheck go at it or Johnson. Even against Fitch that would be an intriguing matchup. Suppose he doesn’t want to diminish his legacy but he is doing so by not competing against top talent.

  • mu_shin says:

    I know it was 2006, but if you haven’t seen the Renzo/Miletich fight, you should check it out. The standing guillotine that Gracie locked on Pat was among the greatest technical submissions I’ve ever seen, and Miletich was never an easy payday for anyone.

    I also know that a lot of MMA fans are not fans of what some of you disparage as “lay and pray”, and I’ve written this countless times, but must do so again. If a wrestler is able to hold down an opponent, and the fighter being held down does not possess the technical knowledge and tactical abililties to escape that strategy, THAT EQUALS A LOSS. You might not think it’s as exciting as other avenues to victory, but it is an undeniable victory none the less for the fighter who determines where the fight takes place, and how the story unfolds. Check the rules.

    As to when and where the ref interferes in the ebb and flow of the match, that seems to be somewhat ill defined, and I for one find myself bemoaning many of the stand-ups I see in modern MMA matches, but that’s just my opinion. If the ref determines that neither fighter is advancing their position, then he has the right to break the action and stand them up, but I think any honest appraisal of the current standards has more to do with action hungry fans and television viewers looking for the stand-up knockout. We should all remember this sport is mixed martial arts, and you might not like it as much, but a dominant wrestler who presents a technical problem his opponent can’t solve is by definition the winner.

    Hearing Pat Miletich say that Renzo Gracie is deceptively strong, makes me think twice about this match. Matt Hughes has always been described as farm-boy strong, and in his heyday, I think he would have given Renzo a real run for his money. From what I’ve seen more recently, it looks to me like Renzo is a lot more involved in the sport and training with a lot more consistent intensity than Hughes, and that makes me think Renzo may surprise a lot of people and come away with the win.


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