Dallas, TX — You would think after losing her first three fights in the UFC, Sam Hughes would feel some pressure knowing that her job was on the line. Nope. Not for the Washington turned Texas-based fighter.
“Actually, not at all. Like none, surprisingly. There should have been a lot of pressure on me— this is my last fight on my contract, and this was basically a make-or-break. It’s like, you either perform well and possibly sign another contract or get one more fight or look like sh*t like you did in your first three fights and then get cut, and then you’re done,” Hughes (6-4) told Cageside Press in an exclusive interview.
“So, there should have been a lot of pressure on me, but Sayif [Saud] does an amazing job of just telling you, ‘hey, focus on what you can control, follow the game plan, listen to me, and you’re gonna be fine.'”
That is exactly what Hughes did in her fight against Istela Nunes. After losing the first round, Hughes’ coach Sayif Saud did what he does best and got his fighter to come back, use her wrestling, and dominate.
Hughes would end up winning a majority decision and picking up her first UFC win.
The 29-year old recently moved her training camp to Fortis MMA in Dallas, Texas, from Washington. In fact, the most pressure she felt was not to let her new team down.
“To me, the biggest pressure I put on myself before this fight was I didn’t want to let the team down because I was the new person coming into the gym with three losses. And everybody else you know, they hold themselves to such a high standard. All of these guys are champions, winners, and fu*king savages,” Hughes said.
“So, for me to be a part of that team and just be one of them, like, that’s what I wanted.
“And that’s the pressure that I put on myself and the standard that I wanted to hold myself to. So if there was any pressure, that was the only pressure because I wanted to make these guys proud. To be in a room full of these guys, it means a lot to me. I respect every single one of them, and I want to make them proud. They’re my teammates. They’re my family now.”
On top of making her teammates proud, she got to shut up everyone that doubted her.
“Man, I know there are so many people that wanted me to lose, that are like, ‘she was never gonna be able to do it.’ But this is a team that Sayif does not accept losing. He just doesn’t. He holds you to a higher standard, and that works for me. And whenever he’s yelling at me, it works for me. I don’t know what it is about his coaching style, but everything’s lining up so well. And I’m just excited to like develop that coaching athlete relationship and keep this rolling,” Hughes said.
Hughes wants to stay active in 2022, but first, she needs to sign a new contract. Something that should be coming in the next few weeks.
Watch the rest of our interview with UFC strawweight Sam Hughes above.