Fresh from training at Jackson Wink, Kerry Hughes is ready for BCMMA 19 main event

Kerry Hughes returns to action at BCMMA 19 this Saturday

Kerry Hughes returns to action at BCMMA 19 this Saturday

Mixed martial arts star-in-the-making Kerry Hughes says she’s in a much better place mentally as she prepares to step back into the cage this weekend.

Hughes, 32, lost her BCMMA bantamweight title belt to challenger Zarah Fairn Dos Santos after being caught with a peach of a right hand early in their fight at BCMMA 18 back in February.

But the heavy-handed Colchester fighter (3-2) jumps right back into the fray again this weekend, battling Anissa Haddaoui in the main event of BCMMA 19 at Charter Hall in the town.

It comes after Hughes, an Inspector in the Met Police, spent a month at the world-famous Jackson Wink MMA gym in Albuquerque, training alongside some of the biggest stars of the MMA world.

“I feel really good,” she said. “My last fight was an anomaly. So much of fighting is mental and people forget that – I was in bad state mentally and didn’t really want to be in there, it was a bad day at the office.

“I’ve started working with a sports psychologist now and I’m feeling really positive with that. I’m going in there with my head clear and my life is in a good place, I’m enjoying my training and everything feels where it should be.”

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Of her time in New Mexico, where she sparred with former UFC bantamweight champ Holly Holm and brushed shoulders with the likes of Jon Jones, Donald Cerrone, Jon Dodson, Diego Sanchez and her MMA hero Cub Swanson, Hughes said it was “absolutely amazing.”

She added: “I did spend quite a few moments walking around like a small child in awe of people. I think fundamentals was the biggest thing I improved – small little things that have completely changed the way I move. It doesn’t sound much, but things like weight distribution and momentum are absolutely massive.”

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So armed with new confidence and a few new tricks, Hughes looks to take the next step in her promising fistic career on Saturday. “She’s only had one MMA fight but she’s a multiple time world champion in K1 with a record of something like 48-4,” Hughes said of Haddaoui.

Hotly-touted prospect Cory McKenna, right, also fights on Saturday

Hotly-touted prospect Cory McKenna, right, also fights on Saturday

“She fights out of Mike’s Gym in Holland and she’s a proper legit kickboxing chick. I think she’s a blue belt in BJJ too.”

With Hughes herself coming from a high-level Muay Thai background, one would think Saturday’s showdown could be played out entirely on the feet.

But Hughes said: “I try not to second-guess these things. Everyone assumes that I want a stand-up fight, but if it’s appropriate I will take someone down.

“I prefer to stand up and punch people in the face, but we’ll see!”

There are some other fascinating fights on what looks a stacked card on Saturday.

Unbeaten amateur Cory McKenna will face Anette Osterberg for the amateur flyweight belt, while Leigh Mitchell, so impressive last time out against Jack Eglin, will defend his amateur flyweight title against Luan Jashari Frantzen.

Norwich’s Dominic Dillon is also in action, squaring off with Ollie Mathis.

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