Opening up the UFC Singapore card on Saturday, Raphael Pessoa looked much improved as he battled Jeff ‘Lights Out’ Hughes to a unanimous decision win.
Rapahel Pessoa’s UFC debut didn’t go according to plan. The 30-year-old Brazilian lost his first fight in the promotion, finding himself submitted by Ciryl Gane in the first round back in August. It was the first loss of Pessoa’s career, following his impressive first-round finish in his only LFA performance in September of 2018. At 9-1, Pessoa looked to make it double-digit career wins at UFC Singapore.
Jeff Hughes lost his UFC debut as well, falling in a split-decision to Maurice Greene in March. He looked to remedy that against Todd Duffee in September, but that bout ended in a no-contest after an accidental eye poke. Which meant Hughes was still on the search for his first win in the promotion, following a two-fight winning streak in LFA which led him to the Dana White Contender Series in 2018. There, Hughes earned a first-round TKO win over Josh Appelt, earning himself a UFC contract.
When the two former LFA heavyweights got underway in Singapore, Pessoa fired off a leg kick to start. Hughes was the noticeably smaller man in the cage. Brazil’s Pessoa fanned on a spinning back kick next. The first big exchange came off a Hughes leg kick, as he followed up the kick by going over the top, with Pessoa returning fire. Pessoa’s right hand was looking dangerous, and repeated leg kicks were taking their toll on Hughes’ leg. With Pessoa backing Hughes up to the fence, ‘Lights Out’ connected with a clean counter. The exchanges were heating up, both men landing. Hughes connected with a couple of hard left hands in these, while Pessoa would later land a left flush. To that point, both men had eaten the the shots well, but Hughes was getting some swelling around the eye.
The action picked up right where it left off to open the second. Pessoa charged forward on his attacks, firing and forcing Hughes to backpedal. Hughes would return the favor, bullying the Brazilian and forcing him to cover up. Pessoa would then throw a spinning kick that came up short, but a right hand connected a moment later, knocking Hughes down! He was right back up, but Pessoa had the edge. Hughes opted to change things up, working for a takedown, which Pessoa fought off. Hughes then fired a high kick and transitioned straight into a takedown, getting Pessoa down and landing a few blows to the body and head before the end of the round.
— UFC (@ufc) October 26, 2019
Pessoa opened the third fanning with a spinning kick. Hughes answered with a spinning back fist that was also wide of the mark. Hughes’ vision was clearly an issue, his eye continuing to swell. Hughes connected with a jab to the body, and later landed a kick. Pessoa returned fire, closing distance to land a right. Hughes would land a leg kick; Pessoa would land a left, backing Hughes up. With time winding down, Hughes needed a finish, but hampered by the eye injury, that was looking less and less likely.
Ultimately, a much-improved Pessoa would take all three rounds on the judges’ scorecards. He may find himself getting a small step up moving forward. Hughes falls to 0-2, with a No Contest against Todd Duffee, putting him in a tough spot.
Official Result: Raphael Pessoa def. Jeff Hughes by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)