Combat Vision MMA spoke to Kerry Hughes as she prepares for her Cage Warriors 89 bout against Cindy Dandois on Saturday 25th November 2017 at the Lotto Arena, Antwerp, Belgium.
Thank you for speaking to Combat Vision MMA, Kerry. It has been announced that you are fighting Cindy Dandois at Cage Warriors 89. Could I ask for your thoughts on the fight.
“Yeah, that’s correct. I am super excited to make my return to Cage Warriors, and to do it as co-main event against such an experienced opponent makes it all the sweeter. I sought out this fight, we have been matched previously but it never went ahead – when that happens I always feel as though I have unfinished business. As soon as I saw that Cindy was on the Cage Warriors card, I immediately asked my coach to put me forward. Stylistically, I feel this should be a very exciting match up for the fans – and a lot of fun for us as fighters”
How quickly did the deal for this fight start to take shape. I would assume there would have been a lot of moving parts to get it finalised.
“Actually, it all happened very quickly. I think I had the contract within 3 days of asking for the match. I think if two fighters both want the match to go ahead, it’s no great effort for the promoter to make it happen”
Both you and Cindy have the ability to finish the fight quickly. In your opinion, what can the fans look forward to in this fight.
“Well, it is no secret that Cindy likes to pull people’s arms off and I like to bash them in the head. That said, I’ve been working my wrestling, Judo and BJJ a lot and I can only assume, she will have been trying to fix the holes in her striking game. I think fans can expect an explosive, fast paced fight that showcases a wide variety of technical ability. It certainly won’t be dull. Judging by the activity so far, you can also expect much in the way of witty banter”
This will be your third fight under the Cage Warriors promotional banner. The last outing was over three years ago. What improvements have you made to your own skill-set or how you approach the fight game in general.
“Well, I’m certainly a more well rounded fighter now. Last time I fought on Cage Warriors, I was essentially a Muay Thai fighter who had learned submission defence and some wrestling. I feel that I have evolved significantly now, I consider myself an MMA fighter”
“I think perhaps the biggest thing for me is that I’ve changed significantly as a person. Since my last outing on Cage Warriors I have changed jobs to one where I’m far happier, left an abusive relationship, travelled all over the world, worked through a couple of nasty injuries and discovered how to enjoy life again. The NET result of that is that I am back to enjoying training, enjoying the process and genuinely enthused to be fit and healthy enough to compete and seize all the amazing opportunities that come my way”
“I think all the time in America has broken me of the majority of my cynicism and negativity – I smile so much more these days. I’ve learned a lot of new techniques, my footwork and movement is better, my understanding of bio-mechanics and movement has improved – but critically, I’ve developed an understanding of balance and how important it is to maintain that equilibrium”
You will be a big underdog heading into this fight. Do you feel the type of opponent, the level Cindy has operated at adding in you will be competing against her in her own backyard. Are these are the type of challenges that will get you to become the most motivated fighter you have ever been heading into a fight.
“I’m usually a huge underdog heading into fights (on paper at least) – I like it that way. I have no interest in going out and handpicking burner fights to pad my record. I could have done that many times, but what on earth would be the point. Cindy is one of the biggest names in the sport outside of the UFC, she’s a Belgian native and has everything to prove after her last performance against Alexis Davis”
“This fight is everything I want at the minute. This year started badly for me, for a variety of reasons, I’ve put all that behind me, regained my focus and I’m ready to make a statement.
“The opponent doesn’t motivate me, improving myself and showcasing the very best skills I can, representing my coaches and teammates positively, that’s what motivates me”
You were expected to fight Antonina Shevchenko (sister of UFC fighter Valentina). Could you tell our readers why the fight did not materialise. And do you feel being involved with these types of opponents are showing that you are getting the recognition you deserve.
“Not much to tell really. I sustained a back injury whilst out in Albuquerque in camp for the fight. After having Xrays taken and extensive chiropractic work, I was advised not to compete yet as it was very fragile, for a few weeks I was unable to do anything more intense than walking on a treadmill. I offered them the match on Phoenix 4, instead of 3, and was told that they would want someone more ‘reliable’. As a result I decided to look for matches elsewhere and almost immediately I saw the announcement that Cindy would be on Cage Warriors Antwerp”
“All things considered, this matchup will be by far the bigger and more credible challenge, so I should take the silver lining from the cloud”
“I am being considered for these opportunities for a reason. I’m no journeyman, and people are aware of that. I may not have many fights to my record, but I always come to fight and put on a good show. I believe I am the equal of anyone I have been matched against, regardless of what records or bookmakers or MMA ‘journalists’ might say. I’m not all that fussed about recognition, I just want to hit people and have fun doing it!”
Looking at your training camp for this fight. Cindy is a black belt in Judoka. Will you be working on anything specifically to try and neutralise this threat. And from your own tape study what will you be looking to exploit come fight night.
“I don’t watch tape on my opponents, it’s not my job. My coaches have watched Cindy’s previous fights, as have some of my teammates. They have broken down what I need to concentrate on and there are some specific drills I have added into my training. That said, my camp for this is not much different than any other. I spend far more time focusing on what I will be doing than what someone else might try to do – I find it more productive”
You have experienced two defeats in your pro career. Most recently in February 2017 at British Challenge MMA 18. What have these losses taught you about yourself and you as a competitive fighter.
“Both of the losses I’ve experienced have been hard to take, because they were my own fault. Neither of those came about as a result of going out, performing my best and being beaten by an opponent who was just too good for me. In both instances I was suffering with a lot of stress in my personal life and I allowed it to overwhelm me to the point where I was rather indifferent to the result of the fight. I’ve published a blog talking about the most recent one”
“Basically what both have taught me, is that mental fatigue is as debilitating as a physical injury and that your mental health and happiness need to be a priority in your life rather than something you attend to as a last resort”
What has been the biggest change in you as a person since you became a professional fighter back in 2013.
“The biggest change in me has probably been that I am happier and more relaxed. I think that’s largely down to being comfortable with who I am and, if I’m honest, pretty happy with it. I’ve spent the majority of my life unhappy with how I look, my figure, my voice – you name it I have had hang ups and neurosis about it. But I have finally got to an age where I understand that I am an introvert, meaning it’s quite normal not to enjoy nightclubs and festivals and enforced socialising”
“I have realised that not everyone is out to get me or is being critical, as a result I am much more trainable and able to take advice. I’ve also learned that my body is exactly what it needs to be – my legs are long enough to touch the ground, My face is very adept at covering the front of my head and my various flaws and scars have all been earned.
In short, we get one life, and I have learned that it’s much more beneficial to enjoy it than to spend one’s whole life paranoid that other people might not like aspects of your looks or personality – if they don’t then shrug and crack on with your life”
You are five fights into your professional MMA career. How would you summarise the journey so far and what goals have you set yourself to achieve competitively inside the cage.
“So far? It’s been Hella’fun. I never even thought I would have an amateur fight, I never believed I would turn pro and certainly never thought I would be a co-main event for Cage Warriors against a UFC veteran. I’m loving the journey and excited to see what comes next. I find having plans the biggest guarantee that something will divert you from whatever it was, so I’m just going to plan to keep improving, keep having fun and keep making new and wonderful friends all over the world and then kicking them in the head”