Jeff Hughes was ultra excited when he signed his deal to join the UFC roster this past year. But his first two fights with the promotion have been anything but normal.
After joining the promotion by way of Dana White’s Contender Series, the Ohio native was matched up against “Ultimate Fighter” veteran Maurice Greene in his debut. It was a somewhat strange matchup, considering Hughes had just defeated Greene on the regional fight circuit just 11 months earlier. Then Greene won a razor-close split decision in the rematch.
To this day, Hughes still believes he was the victor.
In his next fight, Hughes faced off with heavyweight slugger Todd Duffee, and after a rock ‘em, sock ‘em display through three-plus minutes, things again too ended in controversial fashion. Duffee complained about an eye poke and ultimately couldn’t continue as a result.
While Hughes claims that he never poked Duffee in the eye, the fight still ended in a no contest to add another bizarre result to his UFC resume.
“A whole lot of fighters don’t have as many setbacks in their first two UFC fights,” Hughes said when speaking to MMA Fighting. “It’s either they win or lose. Me there was controversy both times.”
Because he is now sitting with one loss and one no contest through his first two fights in the UFC, Hughes is already looking at his upcoming fight against Raphael Pessoa at UFC Singapore as a must win situation.
“I need this win. It’s been over a year since I got a win so I’m freaking out,” Hughes said. “I’ve never gone this long without a win so I need this win. It shows the company that I belong there.
“If I lose, I’d be 0-2 with one no contest and it’s like what do we need this guy for? I might get handed my pink slip after that.”
When he got the call to make a quick turn around from his last fight in September to then compete again in October, Hughes was happy to have the opportunity to wash the bad taste of that no contest from his mouth.
As much as he wanted the chance to settle some unfinished business with Duffee, he knows that’s a fight that can always come back around in the future.
“Part of me says yeah, I’m disappointed [not to fight Todd Duffee],” Hughes said. “I think I did everything in that fight, the tide was turning and I was winning the fight. I still claim I didn’t poke him. He’s going to have to get another fight and we’ll have the rematch.
“I respect him and just recently I went back and watched some of his interviews and he was getting a lot of heat for his interviews and he was making a lot of good points, I think. I respect the dude a little bit more now. I’d love to fight him again.”
As far as his upcoming showdown with Pessoa, Hughes didn’t know much about him when he was offered the fight but that didn’t matter much to him because he just wanted the chance to right the ship in regards to his UFC career.
“To be honest with you I didn’t know him but the roster is so big you’re not going to know everybody on it,” Hughes said. “I did a little bit of research, watched his one fight in the UFC and it didn’t go his way but he’s tough and he definitely belongs in the UFC. So I’m definitely taking it serious.”
If all goes well this weekend and Hughes can finally get his first UFC win, he’s hoping to receive similar calls in the future to step up and fight whenever the company needs it.
A frequent training partner of reigning UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic, Hughes rarely takes a break from the gym and he would love to stay as active as the organization will keep him.
“I want to be the [Donald] “Cowboy” Cerrone of the heavyweight division,” Hughes said. “I may never win the gold but I want people to go in there knowing they’ve been in a fight and know that at any point of the day, we could fight. I could fight you next week. I just love to fight.”