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Paul Hughes on Conor McGregor’s affect on Irish MMA: ‘He did break down psychological obstacles for us younger lads developing’


Paul Hughes credit Conor McGregor

This previous Saturday, Hughes made his PFL/Bellator debut, ending Bobby King within the co-main occasion of Bellator Dublin. It was a formidable efficiency for the Irish prospect in entrance of his residence nation, and it was made all of the extra particular for Hughes as his countryman Conor McGregor sat cageside for his struggle. After the struggle, Hughes even shouted McGregor out saying, “Folks discuss shit, however this man modified the sport and altered all of our younger fighters’ lives.”

Talking with Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour on Monday, Hughes mentioned that whereas he initially had different plans for his post-fight interview, McGregor’s presence introduced on his impromptu speech.

“I needed to name out Usman Nurmagomedov for the light-weight belt,” Hughes mentioned. “[But] he received booked in opposition to Alexander Shabily at, no matter it’s, finish of the yr. So the chance of them having a struggle and me combating him earlier than the season subsequent yr simply didn’t appear doubtless. So I simply form of held my tongue.

“Plus it simply didn’t come about. The post-fight interview form of went a special approach, clearly, with McGregor exhibiting up and having an trade with him. So it form of ended up going a special approach within the post-fight interview.”

Hughes’s speech in assist of him really got here at an attention-grabbing time for McGregor. “Infamous” was set to headline this weekend’s UFC 303 card in opposition to Michael Chandler however withdrew after breaking a toe throughout his coaching camp. The revelation that McGregor pulled out of a struggle for a toe damage earned the previous UFC champ-champ loads of critics, however Hughes stands by Hughes isn’t certainly one of them.

“It got here from the guts,” Hughes mentioned. “Dan requested me the query, ‘How does it really feel having Conor McGregor right here?’ I had simply seen him, he got here as much as the cage, I used to be taking a look at him, and I simply spoke from the guts. That’s the fact. I’m simply talking the reality. He did break down the psychological obstacles for us younger lads developing, particularly coming from the island of Eire.

“Simply 10 years in the past he was combating [Diego] Brandao in the identical enviornment, and that was the start of his rise and the start of the change of Irish MMA perpetually. Then 10 years later, he’s impressed me and I’m in the identical enviornment, co-main eventing my first large, international present. And there I’m having an interplay with him cageside. It simply felt proper to thank him, as a result of it was simply the reality.”

If McGregor opened the door for Irish fighters, Hughes is a part of the following era of Irish fighters hoping to choose up his mantle. The 27-year-old former Cage Warriors champion is now 12-1 in his MMA profession with the longterm objective of coming into the PFL light-weight season subsequent yr. Within the meantime, he’s going to take a seat again and luxuriate in his first win within the promotion after which see what comes subsequent.

“I’m going to take every week right here and simply take it in,” Hughes mentioned. “It’s been a loopy journey since getting out of that — even earlier than getting out of that Cage Warriors contract… Getting that each one performed, getting a struggle booked within the 3Arena, a present being constructed round me, and at last going and doing the enterprise. So I’m going to take every week after which after that we’ll discuss to PFL-Bellator and see what they want me to do. “

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