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UFC 256 - New Blood: ‘Sampage’ hits the big stage

UFC 256 continues to get hammered by COVID-19, leaving it with just 10 fights at the time of this writing. On this edition of “New Blood,” the series where fortune takes sick pleasure in canceling fights as soon as I finish writing about them, we look at a promising women’s Strawweight from LFA.

Sam “Sampage” Hughes

Weight Class: Strawweight/Flyweight
Age: 28
Record: 5-1 (1 KO, 3 SUB)
Notable Victories: None

After a successful promotional debut against Lisa Mauldin, Hughes challenged Vanessa Demopolous for the LFA Flyweight title, starting strong but ultimately succumbing to an inverted triangle in the fourth. Undaunted, she bounced back three months later with a buzzer-beating submission of Danielle Hindley.

She replaces Angela Hill, who tested positive for COVID-19, on less than five days’ notice.

Despite boasting more submissions than knockouts, Hughes is primarily a stalking combination striker, utilizing a lancing jab, an equally sharp right cross, and a high volume of low kicks. She does her best work when she can back opponents into the fence, unleashing lengthy combinations with low kicks mixed in, but also boasts a truly nasty counter right that makes trading with her a dangerous endeavor.

Though I didn’t see it in the footage I watched, the LFA announcers praised her clinch work as well. While she’s got good timing on her takedowns, she doesn’t seem super adept at completing them, but just getting to the clinch can be a small victory, especially since her takedown defense and submission skills both look stout.

There’s a lot to like about Hughes, who has more power than her finishing record would suggest, but she’s got a bevy of tiny flaws that an experienced striker could exploit. She drops her right hand when throwing that jab, occasionally backs straight up when pressured, and uses the same feint over and over to set up her leg kick. If she can smooth those rough edges, I can see her doing quite well for herself in the Octagon.

Hughes is definitely promising overall, she just needs a few tweaks to be a potential contender at 115 pounds.

Opponent: Out-striking Tecia Torres would be a tall task under the best of circumstances. Out-striking her on short notice while simultaneously making a Flyweight debut? Too much to ask. Hughes should land some good shots, but expect her to struggle with “The Tiny Tornado’s” speed and kicking game en route to defeat.

Tape: Her recent LFA bouts are on Fight Pass.

Remember that will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 256 fight card right here, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on ESPN 2/ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+ PPV.

To check out the latest and greatest UFC 256: “Figueiredo vs. Moreno” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.

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