Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) was in a pinch earlier this month when Angela Hill was forced to withdraw from her strawweight showdown opposite Tecia Torres ahead of the UFC 256 pay-per-view (PPV) in Las Vegas.
Stepping in to save the day on less than a week’s notice was Legacy Fighting Alliance (LFA) standout Sam Hughes. And while “Sampage” made weight and put forth a valiant effort, a first round blow left her blind in one eye and unable to continue.
That brought out the fighter’s mentality from color commentator Daniel Cormier, who suggested Hughes may have taken the easy way out instead of lying about her condition in order to carry last weekend’s fight into the second round.
Not surprisingly, that didn’t sit well with Team Hughes.
“I’m sorry, but that really got to me,” coach Eddie Grant told MMA Junkie. “First of all, Sam is a huge fan of Daniel Cormier – and she always has been. Then for him to be like, ‘She’s quitting’ and all this stuff, I know that was hurtful to her. … The thing is that she wasn’t quitting. She would’ve continued to fight. Sam got her arm broken in a fight and came back and won. I have no question about whether she’ll continue to fight. You’re going in there in your UFC debut, and it just so happens we took the fight on five days’ notice. We cut 17 pounds, made weight, and then went and fought the No. 10 girl on planet earth.”
It’s not like Hughes was fighting for the strawweight title or to secure a $100,000 win bonus. But regardless of what was at stake, she was still standing in the middle of the cage with a blind eye and absolutely no idea what caused it.
How much is pride worth?
“We’ve got to decide what we’re doing here,” Grant continued. “Is this a fight to the death, or is this a sport that we’re trying to proliferate? If we were signing up for a few thousand dollars to fight to the death, we might not have done that. But if they’re like, ‘Hey, we need somebody to come in and fight against this top 10 girl,’ then we’ll do that, and they’ll pay you a few thousand bucks or whatever. It’s hard.”
Hughes was diagnosed with hyphema and forced to remain in Las Vegas for several days until the blood drained from her eye. Fortunately, “Sampage” is expected to make a full recovery and could return to the cage at some point in early 2021.