Kerry Hughes: I know I can beat Cindy Dandois at Cage Warriors 89
Heavy-handed MMA prospect Kerry Hughes is in no doubt that she’s the underdog when she steps into the cage with UFC veteran Cindy Dandois in Belgium next week - and that’s exactly how she likes it.
Colchester’s Hughes, 32, takes what appears to be a big step up in class when she battles Belgian Dandois in front of her home crowd on the main card of Cage Warriors 89 at the Lotto Arena in Antwerp a week on Saturday.
Ground specialist Dandois is 8-3, last fought against former UFC title challenger Alexis Davis at UFC Fight Night 108 and boasts a list of impressive scalps on her resume – a submission win over Invicta featherweight champ Megan Anderson the highlight, plus victories over Jessamyn Duke, Jorina Baars and Marloes Coenen.
On top of that, this fight will be at a catchweight of 140lbs – five pounds higher than former BCMMA bantamweight champion Hughes normally competes at, with Dandois being the naturally bigger woman.
But Hughes (3-2) is undaunted. She explained: “I asked for it. We were originally matched to fight in April but then she took the fight with Davis, which I had no problem with, we’d all do the same thing.
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“But as soon as she was released by the UFC and fighting for Cage Warriors I was messaging people saying ‘I want to fight her.’
“I know that anyone looking at this fight will say that the odds are stacked against me and that’s fine – she was the number two ranked featherweight in the world not too long ago.
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“But I know what I have to do to beat her – this will be a real test for me as to whether I have the discipline to stick to a gameplan.”
So, with Hughes known for her powerful striking and Dandois being a submission specialist, is she expecting the Belgian to try to ground the hostilities?
“She’d be very silly not to want the fight on the floor,” said Hughes, who fights out of the BKK Fighters Gym and the famed Jackson Wink MMA Academy. “I don’t think she’s ever won on her feet and she’s very good on the ground.
“But she may have learned a load of new skills and want to show them off – that’s one of the things I love about MMA, you never know. That said, my judo, wrestling and BJJ has really improved in my time away.”
In many ways, the battle mirrors the back story to one of Hughes’ biggest wins – when she knocked out multiple time Muay Thai world champion Amanda Kelly, as a heavy underdog, on Cage Warriors 69 back in 2014.
“She’s a girl that’s highly-rated and highly-regarded,” said Hughes, mulling the comparison. “There are definitely some comparisons to the Amanda Kelly fight, but the difference here is that while that was a striker versus striker, no-one would ever know me as a grappler or judo girl.
“I know, in an ideal world, the crowd want their home favourites to win so we’ll be going in there to spoil their night.
“This is one of those fights where I have everything to gain – potentially it could open some really good doors for me.
“There’s a world of options out there – the likes of Invicta, Cage Warriors. A decent win will put me on the radar for a lot of opportunities.”
Hughes also thanked her sponsors for their support – Combat Dollies, Velvis Cars and Lockdown Fightwear.