The Severe Spotlight: Paul Hughes

CW170 was a night for the Irish. 11 of the 13 fighters representing the tricolour took home wins, James Sheehan took gold back to Team Ryano – a beautiful moment between one of the most respect men in Irish MMA; Andy Ryan, fellow Irish MMA pioneers Neil Seery and Paul Redmond and team draped themselves around James Sheehan as they collectively celebrated in-cage.

Ger Harris, Decky McAleenan and Paul Hughes also scored finishes to round out a dominant run to the main event in the RDS, Dublin.

Much of the talk going into the event surrounded Paul Hughes. The rhetoric of his next promotional move has been ablaze for two years, all of which culminated on Saturday night, being the final fight of his Cage Warriors contract. It was important for him to put in a performance that caught the eye of worldwide promotions.

Getting another human to stand across from him proved difficult for illustrious matchmaker Ian Dean, having to source four different opponents for Hughes, three of which being sourced on fight week. Eventually, 50 fight veteran Fabiano Silva donned the yellow gloves and stepped in with the aim to vault himself into regional stardom by taking a huge scalp and upsetting the free agency apple cart.

During fight week, Hughes was adamant that he was going to show his level from the outset against whomever was across the cage from him, and in the four minutes and thirty-seven seconds the fight lasted, he did just that.

The bout begins with a touch of gloves before Hughes settles immediately into a rhythm of feints, and footwork triangles, cutting Silva off and pushing him inch by inch back to the cage wall. The first strike thrown is a right low kick after a feinted left hand, Silva responds with his own leg kick before diving onto a single leg.

Hughes makes the right choices, looking for an early underhook to stop the double leg, and switching to posting on the near shoulder and taking a wrist tie. From here he navigates the single leg to Silva’s thigh, allow him to drive weight through the leg and make it heavy, whilst constantly bouncing on his posting leg to keep his balance, and finding his way to the cage. From here the dismantling of the initial single leg is swift, he moves Silva’s head to the inside space, allowing his left arm to feed through to the far armpit. Weight driven through the leg as he rides the pipe run attempt, before disengaging via an over under clinch reversal.

The strikes rain in until a knee is caught by Silva, leading to another clinch exchange on the fence. Hughes splits his weight well, lifting the chin of Silva with his left forearm. The break is brought about by referee Dan Movahedi due to a lack of action on Silva’s part.

The next minute see’s Hughes in full flow, teeing off on Silva whilst mixing in awareness of the inevitable takedown shot coming back. Silva unable to find his way out from the cage wall, covering up as best he can as the jabs, low kicks, and right hands rain through his card like hail on a tarpaulin tent roof.

Just shy of two minutes left in the round and Hughes is ramping up, the feet are rooting into the ground harder for the shots, the knees up the middle are frequenting the cranium of Silva who is still unable to find his way off the cage wall – even after Hughes gives him the grace of resetting to the middle of the cage, the Brazilian quickly finds himself with his back flat to the fence, his only return fire offering an explosive 1-2 that Hughes evades with slick ease. The footwork, the variety of shots, the pressure, and the cumulation of damage has left the Brazilian with acute defensive awareness, his output, and his reactions to the feint highlighting this.

In the final minute of the round, Silva once again finds a single leg which once again is dealt with swiftly by Hughes who rounds the corner and launches a decimating pair of knees that drop his man, Hughes swarms into his half guard, landing a parade of elbows onto and through the guard forcing Movahedi to stop the contest.

Hughes, unphased walks away from the crumpled opponent wearing an armband of blood, vaults himself onto the cage wall, presenting himself to his people. Presenting himself to the world as one of the hottest free agents in the world right now. Every promotion in the MMA landscape should be contacting Paul Hughes with very serious offers, the future is bright.

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