Hughes Wins and Leaves No Doubts with Stoppage of Gracie
...the night truly belonged to Hughes, who may not have had his UFC welterweight crown on the line, but who fought as if it was his last bout as he dominated from start to finish against the jiu-jitsu ace from Rio De Janeiro.
With father Helio, the founder of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, directly behind him, Gracie made his way into the Octagon for the first time since 1995 to a rousing ovation from the assembled crowd. Conversely – and surprisingly – Hughes’ entrance was met with boos scattered among the cheers. But the crowd wasn’t going to decide this one – the UFC’s first superstar and a modern day one were going to, and there was a thick tension in the air before the opening bell.
Gracie opened the fight with a couple of range-finding kicks. Hughes answered with an overhand left that briefly jarred the Brazilian. Gracie quickly regained his bearings though and kept kicking at Hughes, who drove him into the fence. With 3:45 left in the round, the fight went to the mat, with the crowd erupting as Gracie looked for a submission. Hughes kept his cool though and worked his strikes from the top position, eventually locking up Gracie’s left arm. After some tense moments, Gracie escaped, but soon Hughes got his back and opened up with elbows and strikes. Seconds later, after a series of unanswered blows to the head, referee John McCarthy had no choice but to halt the bout at 4:39 of the frame.
And then the boos turned to cheers for Hughes, and rightfully so.