Jeff “Lights Out” Hughes (9-1) has been on a special run since turning Pro in October of 2014. Tonight Hughes looks to continue that impressive run by taking out veteran Josh Appelt (15-6) at Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series (DWTNCS), which is headlined by Nick Newell and Alex Munoz. Hoping that doing so in impressive fashion will earn him the right to achieve his dream that he has been working towards since he was 17 years old.
“To be honest with you, I never let the lights get to me. My dad always let me know that ‘don’t let the stage get too big’ and that ‘they’re just a man just like you.’ I look at it that way. The camera’s and even Dana White, nothing really bothers me. I’m there to do one thing and that’s to win. Win that fight. It’s a great opportunity to go out there and fight and then possibly get a four fight contract with the UFC. That’s what I set out to do since I was 17 years old and that’s to fight in the UFC.”
If you couldn’t tell Hughes is no stranger to the big stage. At the end of 2017 Hughes was signed by Legacy Fighting Alliance (LFA) and was given the opportunity to fight for the title. Hughes won and then went on to make history by defending his LFA Heavyweight Title. The first Heavyweight to ever achieve the accomplishment.
“When I first got the call to fight in LFA it was a three fight deal. There was no mention of the title or anything. I knew LFA was a bigger promotion. I didn’t realize how big they were until I decided to do my research on them. I signed the contract and then a couple days later they offered me the title shot. I don’t turn down any fight. It doesn’t matter who it is. It was a great opportunity to fight their champion. It spoke good about them, how they think about me. It gave me a little bit of extra confidence going into it.”
The DWTNCS has been phenomenal this season with 21 of the 25 fights being finishes and 13 contracts being handed out. Not to mention Josh Parisian getting an opportunity to compete on The Ultimate Fighter with his impressive win. With some great finishes not earning contracts, the pressure is on to finish the fight and finish it decisively if a fighter wants to earn a contract. With Hughes last finish coming in January of 2016, does he feel added pressure going into this fight?
“Ya that adds a little bit of pressure to it, but the quality opponents I’ve been fighting they speak for themselves. You’re not always going to get a finish. Even though I set out every fight to get a finish. Either a submission or knockout. If it comes, it comes. I get they like to see finishes. Especially in the Heavyweight Division. I’m capable of doing it. I’ve done it in the past many times. It’s just a matter of time before it happens again.”
With The Ultimate Fighter seemingly coming to an end after this next season, LFA and DWTNCS seem to be the best path to the UFC. At 30 years old and in the prime of his career, Hughes is taking whatever steps necessary to make his dream a reality.
“I’ve never shied away from the hard road. I think it’s a great opportunity any way you look at it. I know eventually if I keep winning fights in LFA, they don’t have a choice but to call me up. I mean they do, but I know I earned my shot in the UFC. If they want me to do this, then it’s just one more step I have to do and it’s one I plan on doing.”
Watch Jeff Hughes and Josh Appelt battle it out tonight for a potential UFC contract LIVE on UFC Fight Pass at 8 pm ET / 5 pm PT. Stick with MMANews.com tonight for results, reaction, and everything else DWTNCS. Listen to the complete interview with Jeff below.