Prospect in the Spotlight (July 17-18): Sam Hughes

Introduction

Friday, July 17th, American strawweight prospect Sam Hughes will be in action for LFA, where she will be looking to continue her undefeated streak against Vanessa Demopoulos. She will be looking for the W, as Hughes looks to impress the UFC brass in an attempt to earn a contract. She represents Catalyst MMA, a little-known camp in MMA. Let’s take a closer look at this prospect as this week’s “Prospect Spotlight.”

Strengths

Boxing: When it comes to striking, it appears to be Hughes’ biggest strength. She does throw some leg kicks, but they generally are not a huge threat. She mostly strikes with her hands, as she has some very good boxing. She has quick hands and tends to throw with a purpose. It’s not just one punch and out. She mixes up her combos well, throwing jabs, straights and hooks upstairs and to the body. Her right hand is her best weapon. In terms of intangibles, she has very good footwork and is good at cutting off the cage. She likes to take the center of the cage and be aggressive. Her timing is also solid when it comes to striking and counterstriking. She doesn’t have intimidating knockout power, but her precision racks up the damage.

Clinch: If you watch a Sam Hughes fight, you will notice she likes to put people against the cage and grind on them. She tires out her opponents there, as they are force to carry her weight. From the clinch, she is very methodical. She doesn’t do anything unless it has a purpose. She also is good at finding openings. Just watch her fight with Loren Benjar. Once she got Benjar to commit to protecting her head in the clinch, Hughes sank her with a  knee to the body, effectively ending the fight. That shows good fight IQ as well.

Needs Improvement

Takedowns: One of the reasons Hughes is in the clinch a lot is that her takedowns need some work. In terms of timing takedowns and setting them up effectively, it’s something she needs to work on. It seems that she gets stuffed more than she gets her opponent to the mat. It’s a shame too, as she has submission skills when the fight does get down to the mat. She needs to find a more effective way to get inside and to set up takedowns, that way she isn’t wasting a ton of energy constantly putting forward a takedown and getting denied.

Power: Hughes is not the biggest power threat, which is seen in her striking and grappling. While she’s good at controlling in the clinch, her lack of physical dominance is one reason why her takedowns are not as effective. She’s also not a one-punch KO threat, even though she piles on damage through volume.

Outlook

UFC Curtain Jerker: Hughes is still young in her MMA career, so she’s exciting in that she’s got good potential. Four fights in, she’s undefeated and she’s shown she can hang with respectable talent like Lisa Mauldin. That’s a good start, but there’s still more to be seen. She will continue to improve from fight to fight. If she can improve her wrestling and get physically more dominant, she’s on the road to success. She’s got a good test in front of her in the form of Vanessa Demopoulos, so watching her here will be interesting. Demopoulos is a good grappler and will try to engage on the ground. If Hughes succeeds here, she will prove she’s ready to keep going up the ladder and taking on higher level of competition.

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