By Paul L
The people of Ohio have a deep history of hard work and blue collar labor. Home to many early manufacturing jobs, including steel work, machine manufacturing, and resources processing, its people have known nothing but grit and determination in and out of the workplace.
This dedication and resolve is nothing new to Friday’s LFA 38 heavyweight title headliner, Jeff Hughes. Growing up in a split household, Jeff would be bounced back and forth between divorced parents. Where stability lacked in his family life, Jeff found in work. Starting at an early age, his ethic towards blue collar labor would fill the gaps in his home life, an escape where he could forge his own sense of normality.
Alongside work, Jeff also found comfort in sports. Originally a multi sport athlete in high school playing Football and Basketball, Jeff spent what spare time he had honing his athletic talents. Though ultimately Jeff’s athletic life changed when he was cut from the Basketball team, leading him to a sport that would end up being the basis for a future career in Mixed Martial Arts.
If hard work and dedication were embodied in collegiate athletics, Wrestling would be its avatar. With personality traits matching that of the sport, Jeff was a natural wrestler. Facing larger, tougher opponents on the mat was a normal day for Jeff, and his ability to never say die would garner the attention of his coaches, peers, and even local gyms.
Originally based out of Evolve MMA, Jeff started fighting on a whim. With very little training he stepped into the cage with an air of nervousness, one that would prove to be unfounded. Winning his first fight was a sense of exhilaration he had always strived for in his athletic career. With a win on his record and a newfound faith in his toughness and ability, Jeff went on to distinguish himself as one of the most successful and active amateur heavyweights on the scene, sometimes seeking weekly fights to satisfy his urge for competition.
Despite such an active career, even as a professional, Jeff has always had to embrace the grind for success. He has fought hard wars in the cage, built his record from the ground up with 8 wins and only 1 loss, and applied his blue collar work ethic to his MMA success. However at the highest levels of any sport, just work ethic won’t do the trick. With an ultimate goal to end up in the UFC, Jeff needed to make some changes.
As any fighter from Ohio knows, Stipe Miocic is the pinnacle of what they can achieve. Known as the greatest heavyweight to ever step inside the UFC octagon, Stipe reigns supreme as the best fighter in the state. Training out of Strong Style Fight Team in Independence, Ohio, Stipe works with a team of local fighters who both learn from him, and push him towards greater success. Knowing he needed the skills to match his toughness, Jeff made the transition to the team.
While Stipe trains for his legendary confrontation with 205 pound champion Daniel Cormier, Jeff synchronizes his own camp with that of his mentors. Citing his training partners well rounded and varied skillsets, Jeff feels confident he will be able to overcome anything the lanky striker and submission expert Maurice Greene throws at him.
At LFA 38, on Friday April 27th, there will be a battle of wills for the LFA heavyweight title, and Jeff Hughes does not intend to give up what he has worked so hard to achieve, what he wants his family to see in him, and what he wants fans to believe. That he is a champion.