Cage Warriors: ‘It’s hard to celebrate’ – Paul Hughes becomes champion

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Paul Hughes aims to move to UFC after latest win

Paul Hughes has said he “wishes it was someone else” after beating Jordan Vucenic to become the Cage Warriors featherweight world champion.

Their rematch on Friday has been billed as the biggest in Cage Warriors history and Hughes is aiming to move up to the UFC.

“It was, I’m not going to lie” said an emotional Hughesexternal link when asked if it was difficult to celebrate his victory.

“It’s been a long journey and I feel like I’m tied to this man by over 99.9% of the people on this planet.”

England’s Vucenic beat Hughes two years ago by split decision to end the 25-year-old’s six-fight unbeaten streak.

Since then, however, they had both become champions, with Vucenic defeating Morgan Charriere for the featherweight title and Hughes later defeating the same opponent for the interim belt.

Both men had overcome adversity ahead of Friday’s rematch in London – Vucenic lost his brother and father when he was seven years old and says his childhood experiences shaped him as a man and a parent.

Irish fighter Hughes fought against overwhelming odds after injury nearly ended his career before it had even started, and his win means he’s in a prime position to move on. UFC.

“He has a young family and is just trying to be successful in this game like me,” Hughes added.

“I saw his coaches and how heartbroken they were, and I just know if the tables were turned, how hard it would be for my team because they’re like family.

“It’s the fight game, unfortunately. I just wish it was someone else I had to take it away from because I love this guy. Competition is competition but I love Jordan. He is like Paul Hughes.

“That’s why I feel so bad. There are a few fights for Jordan to come back now, but that would have been me. I have no doubt he’s going to smoke anybody and he’ll get there.

“In MMA, we don’t make a lot of money, and it goes from the bottom up. People don’t understand that. We make do.

“To make it harder for a man with a young family…it’s not an easy game.”

Hughes supports the rematch

Hughes becomes the first Irish fighter since UFC superstar Conor McGregor to hold the Cage Warriors featherweight title.

The win takes Hughes’ record to 9-1, with the Lavey man avenging his only previous loss to Vucenic.

There was little to separate the two men in the first round, but Hughes began to assert his dominance in the second after a header stumbled Vucenic and forced the Englishman to look for a takedown. Hughes secured the dominant position and controlled the majority of the round off his opponent’s back.

At the end of the third round, Hughes almost stopped Vucenic after knocking his opponent down with a body shot and a knee to the head, but the champion was saved by the buzzer late in the round.

Hughes picked up where he left off in the fourth, dropping Vucenic with a cut-opening punch combination on his 26-year-old opponent’s face.

Vucenic was able to survive, and after the fight doctor examined his face, he was cleared to continue for the final round.

Hughes continued to dominate in the fifth, forcing Vucenic to survive after landing a vicious combination. Hughes saw the contest in the lead, further damaging his opponent’s face with elbows before securing victory.

UFC: Paul Hughes looks to follow in Conor McGregor’s footsteps with title win

Hughes added that “I gotta get that UFC contract now” and said, “Cage Warriors? Done.”

“I think it was the biggest fight in Cage Warriors history. It had it all. The storyline, the common opponents, the fight that was so close.

“You had the two best featherweights in all of Europe, and two guys who should probably be in the UFC right now.

“It’s been a crazy year for me, a really crazy year.

“The neck injury in March really hurt me. Physically of course, but mentally it really hurt me. It was a serious injury and people throwing dirt at my name.

“It was the most trying time of my career, but adversity makes you and it was the most nervous time I’ve ever been for a fight.

“But everyone is scared, every man is scared, but it’s how you deal with it that separates you. It was all on the line.”

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