UFC Welterweight Champion Matt Serra (9-4, 6-4 UFC) has been forced to withdraw from his December 29th bout with former champion Matt Hughes (41-5, 15-3 UFC) due to a herniated disc in his lower back suffered in training earlier this week.
The average recovery time for an injury of this type is approximately 6 weeks and the pain is too severe to train through. Serra, who has been Welterweight Champion since April, was due to make his first defence of the title against The Ultimate Fighter 6 rival Hughes but now that this fight has been shelved it leaves UFC matchmaker Joe Silva with a headache with a main event slot to fill for UFC 79 with only 5 weeks to go until the event.
It appears unlikely that Matt Hughes will face a replacement fighter, as he has stated that he only two or three fights left in his career and it’s doubtful whether he’d want to compete in a fight that isn’t for the Welterweight Championship.
UPDATE: There are conflicting reports as to the severity of Serra’s injury. Initially it had been assumed the injury would take no longer than 6 to 8 weeks to heal, but if surgery is required he could be out of action for a considerably longer period of time. Tim Sylvia, who suffered a similar injury, was out of action for about 7 months post surgery.