Joe Hughes Interview
Joe Hughes (0-2-0) is a Professional MMA fighter from Feltham, Middlesex. He turned 40 this year and says he started his MMA career quite late in life. He is 5’8 and fights at 85kg and tells me he is predominately a stand up fighter with a background in Boxing and Kickboxing.
He started MMA training three years ago but has been taking it seriously for the last year and a half and trains out of Te-At-Su Martial Arts Gym, Hanworth which is run by Sensei Tony Newman, Steve Gilbert and Steve Reano. Micky Stall also ran the gym but he passed away and Joe tells me he is someone who will always be missed. Te-At-Su will be moving to its new home in Sunbury on Thames in November and this will be a purpose built MMA Gym.
Although Joe has a record of 0-2-0, he tells me he is striving hard for that first win and hopes he will secure it when he fights next on 29th October in Weybridge. This is a BKBU event promoted by Brian Dossett. Joe does not know too much about his opponent Chris Copper other than this will be his first fight and in true sporting fashion, Joe wishes him the best of luck.
So how did Joe get involved in MMA to start with? As a child he trained in a little judo but at the age of twelve he started boxing which he did for five years. He had several boxing fights during this time and it was from there that he started to do more gym training, circuits and fitness work. He went back to Boxing for a short time at Kingston Boxing Club but this was more for the fitness rather than at a competitive level. From here Joe discovered a Kickboxing club run by Terry Bower who was training people purely for fitness and technical ability although they did compete in light continuous competitions which is something Joe himself did not do. During this time, Joe gained his 3rd Dan black belt and instructor’s status and got the fighting bug again about a year and a half ago. He then decided to put all his training into practise and start competing again. Joe tells me that he has so much for respect for anyone who is prepared to train hard and step into the ring or cage. He says to do that and go to war with someone takes a lot of dedication and continuous hard work so he respects all fighters and trainers in the world of MMA.
His typical training consists of pad work on a Monday where he works on all strikes for an hour and a half. Tuesdays he hits the gym to concentrate on his strength work. Wednesday evening he spars for an hour and a half working on all aspects of MMA. Thursday he is back to the gym and also tries to fit weekend sessions in if he can but it isn’t always easy to find the time. When he is coming up to a fight the training stays the same but the intensity builds to ensure that on fight night, he will be in peak condition. On fight night he concentrates on staying calm and relaxed and keeping his head clear of anything other than the job he is there to do.
He has the support of his family and friends and says they have always been there for him whether he is training or fighting. They attended all his Amateur Fights and continue to do so within his Professional career. His girlfriend, Hayley is really supportive and understanding. She knows that he has to train hard and she never grumbles which Joe says makes it a lot easier. Of the huge support he gets, Joe says having everyone behind him, whatever the outcome, makes his job a whole lot easier. With training four or five times a week and working full time Monday to Friday, Joe doesn’t have any time for other hobbies. He has three children and Hayley also has three so at the weekends, he likes spending quality time with Hayley and all of the children. With six children to entertain, I imagine that it could be harder than training and the day job!
I asked Joe what he feels about the doubters who say MMA is a dangerous sport and he is quick to say that he puts it down to a lack of knowledge. He understands that people will look at it as violent but wants to explain that the fighters are all disciplined and the referees are trained to a high standard to ensure the protection of the fighters at all times. He feels if the sport was given more publicity and people took the time to understand it a little better then it would be more recognised and welcomed. Joe, like all of us in the MMA world wants to see it become as popular as the other sports that are out there.
So has Joe learned anything since starting out? He says he has learned that you have to give 100% to take it seriously and his advice to any people thinking of starting out is to research everything and find a good club with a good reputation to train at. He says it is important to train with established coaches and fighters and most importantly to train as hard as you can. I wanted to get Joe’s perspective of his first Pro fight and how he felt going into it. He tells me that he had some idea of what to expect as he had fought at amateur level. But he adds stepping up to the professional level is a completely new ball game. His first Pro fight was against Crazy James Caird who I interviewed a while back. The fight was for Kudzu at Epsom Race Course and at the time Joe didn’t know anything about James other than that it was also his first fight. Weighing in proved his hard work and training had paid off as he was on target. He says he was quite calm on the day, keeping his nerves in check by relaxing in the changing room. He met James during the day and says he felt he was a decent guy who he was going to share a drink with afterwards no matter what the outcome. He spent time greeting his friends and family as they turned up to support him but says he spent most of the time in the changing rooms, taking time to warm up and mentally prepare himself. As fight time grew nearer, he felt his nerves start to build, so did more pad work and stretching to keep his mind focused. The call came to make his way to the cage and he felt the mood and atmosphere change from relaxed to serious very quickly. He had the reassurance of his coaches and they were giving him advice and keeping him calm. Walking to the cage, Joe says was ‘mental’, he could hear the music banging and the crowd cheering and he says it gave him such a buzz. Being first into the cage, Joe took the time to suck up the atmosphere and when James entered the cage he could see that war was about to erupt as James was up for it. He says he knew the fight would only end one way with either himself or James getting totally ‘banged up’. The bell went and they touched gloves and then the fight exploded with a few shots, both catching each other in the stand-up game. James caught Joe with a push kick that sent him against the cage and as he came forward, James caught him with a massive knee hitting him flush in the face and sending Joe back against the cage. Joe says that James saw his opportunity and was on him and from that point on he says the fight was all James’s. Joe tells me he had a massive split in his bottom lip which he could feel flapping about when he breathed and this took his mind out of the fight. James steamed in with ground and pound to the point that Joe says he could see no way out so tapped to save himself from serious injury and of course so he could live to fight another day. Of James, he says he has total respect for him and says he did what he had to, to win the fight. The flying knee Joe describes as an awesome shot and feels as soon as it connected the fight was more or less won. Once he was off of the floor and back in his corner, James went straight over to make sure he was okay and the first thing James said to Joe was about having that drink which sadly Joe couldn’t do as he needed hospital treatment on his lip. Nine stitches is what it took to sew his lip back together. He is still in touch with James and he still respects him and wishes him all the best in his future fights.
Joe would like to thank all his supporters that have purchased tickets and taken the time to watch him fight. He has a massive thank you for Tony Newman for all his guidance, training and advice and for pushing him to the limit each time over the last couple of years. He would also like to thank Steve Gilbert, Steve Reano and the late Micky Stall. Last but importantly he would like to thank his girlfriend Hayley for always been there to sooth the bruises.
I wish Joe the best of luck in his next fight and future career and for taking the time to do this interview. If you want to purchase tickets for his next fight, please contact Joe via email firstname.lastname@example.org