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Kerry Hughes – BCMMA19 Interview

4th May 2017

Firstly how has camp gone for this fight, who have you been working with and if anything specific what area of your game have you been looking to improve since your last fight?

It genuinely couldn’t have gone better, I’ve rediscovered my love for the sport and for the process and preparation. I spent the best part of a month over in Albuquerque training at JacksonWink MMA with some of the most amazing people – as well as being fortunate enough to have the time of my life whilst I was over there. The break away from home did me the world of good, as did working with such a high level group of coaches and training partners and getting some sunshine! I haven’t worked to improve any one area imparticular, I feel that being well rounded is my focus and developing the various techniques I am learning so that they work with me and my style. The major change for me has been stripping back and tightening up a few basics. Anyone watching my next fight will see a different me in terms of movement, posture and weight distribution – sounds almost dull, but I can feel the improvements already and it’s really motivating me.

Unfortunately the last fight didn’t go your way and you lost in the first round against Zarah Fairn Dos Santos, have you had chance to look back at the fight and figure out where it went wrong for you that night?

I haven’t watched the fight back and I don’t intend to. Put quite simply, the only problem I had that night was inside my head, everything else that happens stemmed from that and was ultimately what caused my horrendous performance. I think everyone underestimates how important mental state is to athletes, I certainly always have, but the only thing I learned about myself that night is that without a way of learning to cope with pressure and stress in my day to day life, it will render me incapable of fighting. I don’t believe in making excuses, and I take nothing from Zarah, she won convincingly. From my part I was dealing with a reasonable amount of stress at work, had been carrying an injury for a lot of the fight camp and then my boyfriend broke up with me a few weeks beforehand. None of those would be catastrophic on their own, but together and along with various other smaller issues like selling a property they contributed to absolutely wiping me out mentally – whenever I wasn’t training or at work I was mostly sat at home in a dressing gown watching a rubbish box set and crying into a cup of tea. By the time the fight rolled around I was just completely out of energy, motivation or interest.

It’s a really hard thing to admit to yourself that you just aren’t coping, but America was a huge help to draw a line under things, and I’ve spent the intervening time working with Rob Dawson of Mindsport Consulting. I can honestly say it’s changed my life, not just in terms of the sport, but in terms of how I feel about myself, how I cope with situations, my confidence and my general level of happiness. I can’t remember a time in my adult life when I have felt so positive and enthusiastic and it’s hugely freeing. I have never before said that I am looking forward to a fight and meant it, as I stand today I genuinely can’t wait to get in there.

You’re making a quick return to action which hasn’t always been the case previously in your career, would you say the thought of redemption and getting back in the win column is a big motivation for getting back in there again fairly quickly?

I don’t think it’s so much that, as that I am still fit and well from my previous fight camp and now that I’m on an even keel mentally I just want to fight again. I’ve had the benefit of some top class coaching both in the UK and abroad, I’m feeling really strong and confident and the time felt right for another fight. I was actually due to fight in April, against Cindy Dandois in Belgium but that was cancelled owing to her getting signed to the UFC – I asked Jack to get me matched as soon as possible because I wanted to maintain my momentum and ensure I had something concrete to work toward.

You are fighting Anissa Haddaoui at BCMMA 19, what do you know about your opponent and how well do you think your skills match?

Anissa is a very, very highly rated kickboxer from Mike’s Gym with many titles to her name and is also a BJJ blue belt, so she’s clearly a good all rounder. She doesn’t have much experience competing in MMA, but that’s not really indicative of her skill level, after all – we all have to start somewhere and she brings a very impressive fight pedigree. We are both known as strikers and the only guarantee in any MMA fight is that you both start on your feet – so I’m sure the crowd will get to enjoy some high level striking exchanges. As for me – I’m comfortable wherever the fight goes and I’m really looking forward to testing my skill set against a fighter I have genuine respect for.

BCMMA is probably the biggest promoter for women’s MMA fights in the UK putting them in main event slots when a lot of other shows wouldn’t think about doing this. How important do you think BCMMA is for the progression and development of WMMA in the UK?

I’m so lucky to be headlining BCMMA for the third time, it’s one of the first shows I fought on as an amateur and returning there as a pro was a wonderful experience. Jack Mason and Craig Powell are trailblazers in many ways, there’s many promoters that aren’t comfortable taking the risk of having female main events and a lot that don’t feature female fighters in their promotional material with the same prominence as their male counterparts. From grass roots up to professional level these guys make the effort to match women’s fights and knowing that there is no competition for me in the UK they have paid to fly in opponents from overseas on multiple occasions – again not something that is commonplace in the UK. Having shows that are prepared to go the extra mile like this, look after their fighters and work to promote us is such a huge thing for the growth of women’s MMA. I’m so excited to see what the future holds for the guys coming through the amateur ranks now that they have signed their deal with Cage Warriors too.

What can the fans expect to see from you on the night?

Fans can expect to see me walking out with a smile on my face and actively enjoying myself for a start. Beyond that, it’s widely acknowledged that I have never yet been in a boring fight – hopefully everyone will be thoroughly entertained! Once the fight is over they can expect to see me at the pizza truck outside, where I will happily pose for photos in exchange for carbohydrates.

Finally, would you like to say any thank yous ahead of your fight?

Thank you to my amazing coaches over here – Stephen Byerley, Jack Mason, Jez Lord, Arnold Allen, Sean Carter, Nick Albert et al and my fabulous team mates. Also to the very wonderful coaches at JacksonWink – Joey Villasenor, Harry St Leger, Frank Lester, Coach Chad and the lovely guys I met and trained with during my time there. Thank you also to my sponsors who do so much to help me out. A huge thank you to Rob Dawson at Mindsport Consulting, without whom I would have jacked everything in with the way I was feeling. Finally thank you to all my amazing friends and family who support me so much – sometimes just by leaving me alone when I have things to concentrate on, sometimes by coming to watch me fight and sometimes by going out of their way to help me – it all makes such a huge difference and I love you all.