Jeff Hughes is in the UFC to fight tough fights, which is why he was happy to get a booking against Todd Duffee at UFC Vancouver.
Vancouver, BC — When we last spoke to UFC heavyweight Jeff Hughes, it was a week out from his fight with Todd Duffee at UFC Vancouver.
It was also the day after his wedding. Just a week later, a possible win over Duffee could be a fantastic wedding present. But how does one prepare for a fighter who has been away from the sport over four years?
Hughes discussed that and more at the UFC Vancouver media day on Thursday, with Cageside Press and other media outlets.
“You just go out there and fight your fight,” he said of the rather unusual situation. “There’s not a whole lot of film on him anymore, and I’m sure things have changed in the last four years. So I just go out there and fight my game plan.”
While the booking with Duffee was a little surprising to Strong Style’s Hughes, he had seen his fellow heavyweight at the UFC Performance Institute a couple of times. “I knew he was getting back into it.”
More importantly, “he’s a big name, so as soon as they mentioned it, I jumped on it. I’m here to fight tough fights, and he’s a game dude.”
Game or not, however, Hughes added that “I’m sure he’s going to have cage rust. Everybody does if you don’t fight for so long.” Although Hughes also noted that Duffee “comes out fast in every fight. I don’t expect that to change. We’re just going to go out there and feel it out.”
Duffee, in his turn at the media day, had spent considerable time discussing his issues with how the media portrays the sport. Consider Jeff Hughes the other side of the coin. “It’s great. I don’t mind doing interviews. I’m don’t mind talking to anybody,” he said of dealing with the press. “I’m happy people want to hear about the sport and care what I have to say. It’s kind of cool.”
And while he does read what is written about him, “I don’t get mad at anything. I don’t get mad at what my opponent says, what an analyst says, or a fan says. It’s their opinion, they can have it. I don’t care.”
He does admit, however, to feeling a tad overlooked. “A little bit. I feel like people are counting me out. Things didn’t go my way the first fight in the UFC, but that happens, it’s part of the fight game. You don’t always have the best night.”
That first performance, a close loss against Maurice Greene, who Hughes had previously defeated outside the UFC, may be causing fans to sell him short. “They’re already thinking I’m going to be a fast knockout, and that’s just not the case.”
It’s hard not to talk about Hughes’ recent nuptials, given their close proximity to the fight. But, he said, they didn’t complicate anything, really. “No I just couldn’t party at the reception like everybody else, but it was cool. My wife took care of everything. All I had to do was make sure all my buddies were in a suit, and that was it. That was the most stressful part for me.”
As a heavyweight with no weight cut, he even got to enjoy some of the wedding cake.
Asked which walk was scarier, the one to the octagon, or the one down the wedding aisle, Hughes did not skip a beat. “The aisle. I was like pacing. You know you go to weddings, you see people just standing there ready for it? I was like pacing, shadow boxing. I probably looked like an idiot. It was nerve wracking, but it was great.”
“There’s some good pictures of it too,” he later joked about his shadow boxing, tux and all.
On a more serious note, there’s still Todd Duffee to contend with Saturday. Duffee, for his part, didn’t have much to say about Hughes during Fight Week. Questioned about whether his opponent might be overlooking him, Hughes answered with a maybe. “It’s not a smart decision if he does. Maybe that’s just how he gets ready for a fight, I don’t know.”
“I have respect for Todd. We’re going to find out who the better fighter is Saturday,” he added.
When he gets in the cage, he’ll enter with some encouraging words from teammate, and UFC heavyweight champion, Stipe Miocic. “He just said ‘go out there and fight your fight. You don’t realize how good you are.’ Those are awesome words from the baddest man on the planet.”
Watch the full UFC Vancouver (UFC Fight Night 158) press scrum with Jeff Hughes above!