Paul Hughes on Fight with Aidan Stephen: “I’m finishing this fight, like I finish every fight.”

One of Irish MMA’s top prospects Paul Hughes (5-0) spoke to Andy Stevenson for SevereMMA ahead of his fight with Aidan Stephen (7-2) this Saturday night at Cage Warriors 116. The bout will be contested at featherweight and it will be the first time Hughes hits the scale at 145 pounds under the Cage Warriors banner. Hughes returned to the cage in 2019 after a 2 year layoff due to injuries. The Derryman is non too worried about his weight cut.

“Even if I was fighting at 170 pounds, I’d still be doing the same routine. The only difference on the final day will be a few extra few baths and an extra few sweat sessions. Obviously I am a bit bigger now since the last time I cut to featherweight. That would have been a year and a half ago. It’s been a while but I breezed the weight cut back then and I’m pretty sure I’m going to breeze it again to be honest.”

After moving up and down a weight Hughes is glad to have settled at featherweight and has set his sight on the title.

“I can definitely fight for the title now. Cage Warriors are not going to give you a title shot if I’m moving up and down the weights all the time. You have to fight at your weight to get recognised at that weight and to build your way up. I’m very happy now that I actually have a fight now at my weight. It wasn’t by choice the other times not getting to fight at this weight so we’re finally here and I am really looking forward to it.”

This will be the toughest test to date for the Fight Academy Ireland athlete and he believes that Stephen is a very worthy adversary.

“I think he is tough and I think he’s a really good fighter all round,” said Hughes. “He definitely initiates the grappling a lot but he’s also had a couple of good stand up fights too. I think he is good all round and I am expecting a hard fight but that is exactly what I want. At this stage of my career I need that test from that guy who has had almost double the amount of fights than myself. I need that seasoned opponent to jump me right up to the top of the division. I’m sure I’m going to get a good fight out of him, for whatever time it lasts for him.”

“I’m finishing this fight, like I finish every fight.”

The ongoing pandemic has scuppered many plans but Hughes still has high hopes to get his hands on Cage Warriors gold later this year.

“I wouldn’t rule it out in 2020 still. I hope Cage Warriors do another show this year. If they do, then I would assume that once I beat Aiden on Saturday night that it will be one more fight and then the belt.”

“That’s my logical mind speaking”, Hughes said laughing. “Now my mind when I win on Saturday night might be a little different. I might be calling for that title shot straight away.”

“If I go out there and absolutely outclass Stephen in every way and absolutely starch him, there’s a good chance I’ll be calling for that belt.”

“The belt is going to be mine at some point anyway. Ian Dean is an unbelievable matchmaker and he knows how to build fighters and he knows how to build stars. I’m very willing to let Ian do his work there. If he says, “Paul I want you to get one more, maybe even two more before the belt”, I”ll take it into consideration. But when the adrenaline is going on saturday night I think I’ll definitely be calling for that belt.”

Cage Warriors 116 takes place on Saturday 26th of September. The prelims begins at 19:30 on Fight Pass and and the main card begins at 21:00 GMT exclusively on Fight Pass.

Ian O'Neill is the host of the SevereMMA UFC Preview show and one of the co-hosts of The Auld Triangle - Irish MMA podcast. You can find more of Ian's work on the SevereMMA Patreon where he co-hosts The Chasing Pack and The Contender. Follow him on Twitter and on Instagram @ioneillmma

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