Kerry Hughes, aka “Rocksteady” is British fighter who fights out of BKK Fighters in Colchester. She’s had a total of 9 fights to date in MMA, K1 and Muay Thai. We’ve met her a few times and one thing that can be said about Kerry, something that we found apparent, is that she’s hungry to fight and push forward to new tougher challenges. We grabbed some time with her to ask about her upcoming title fight on March 12th, and her previous busy months.
Awakening: Hi Kerry, thanks for taking the time to chat to us!
Kerry: Thank you for the interest in interviewing me, it’s always a pleasure to speak with Awakening!
Awakening: For those that are unfamiliar with your career to date, can you tell us how you first got started in martial arts?
Kerry: Well, I initially trained Muay Thai under Arjan Vinny at KO Gym (now Muay Thai Masters Academy), in Tottenham, when I was a teenager. For a variety of reasons I had a lengthy hiatus from the sport that I loved, returning in the summer of 2011 to train Muay Thai under Stuart Barlegs at BKK Fighters in Colchester. In December of that year I accepted a short notice C class fight, which I won and fell in love with the sport all over again. In early 2012 I was introduced to MMA by Stephen Byerley and Jack Mason and fell straight in love with the complexity of the sport and the wide variety of skills and techniques that were required. I went on to compete in MMA, turning pro in 2014 after an undefeated amateur career and signing to Cage Warriors after my successful professional debut. I began to train with Jez Lord at Semtex Essex in May 2015 and since then my striking game has evolved hugely. Over the past few years I have competed in MMA and Muay Thai, as well as K1 kickboxing.
Awakening: You’ve had an interesting last couple of months, and now you’re headed towards some great opportunities very soon.
Back in December, you flew over to Las Vegas to try out for The Ultimate Fighter season 23 as a Bantamweight. It is currently filming with a group of Strawweight women, but there was unfortunately not enough Bantamweights for that side of the tournament to go ahead. Can you tell us about your experience of trying out for TUF, your training while in the USA and your thoughts on the BW tournament not coming together?
Kerry: If I’m brutally honest my tryout was awful ha ha, my head wasn’t really engaged and the grappling part of the tryout was embarrassingly bad, following on from that the pad work aspect was made rather difficult by not having a pad man! That said though, travelling to the US for the tryouts was one of the best decisions I have ever made, whilst out there I took the opportunity to train at the world famous Syndicate MMA in Vegas. I was made to feel so welcome and enjoyed the calibre of the training so much that I returned in January as part of my fight camp for BAMMA 24. The training there is the most amazing experience, working on the mats every day with legitimate top echelon fighters and coaches and picking up some great tips – as well as laughing so much I cried on many occasions. All things considered I’m glad the BW never came together, from a purely selfish perspective, because my work commitments would never have allowed me to partcicpate. I hope that the UFC will be forced to go actively scouting for 135lb girls now!
Awakening: You’re now set for an intriguing matchup in Kickboxing on March 12th. You will be challenging Marie Lang for her WKU Low Kick Kickboxing World title in Germany. Can you tell us a bit about how this matchup came to be, and your thoughts on training for and competing under Low Kick rules?
Kerry: I really don’t know much, except that my coach offered me the opportunity and I felt that this may be a once in a lifetime opportunity to fight for a world title and decided to take it without knowing anything about my opponent. Training for this fight has been great fun and hard work. I have mostly been focussing on Muay Thai for the last year and a bit in any case, so much of the training is not dissimilar. The key thing for me has been drilling the rule changes into my head and trying to break some of my instincts, toward things like elbows, clinch and spinning backfists.
Awakening: What is your view on your opponent, Marie Lang, what can you tell us about her, and what are your expectations for this World title challenge fight?
Kerry: She and I have very different styles, both in terms of how we choose to portray ourselves in the media and in terms of how we fight. Marie has successfully held her title for a long time and I gather she is well respected in Germany. I don’t do game plans and predictions, my only expectation of this fight is that she and I will go out there and leave it all behind in the ring to entertain the sports fans. Marie should be very aware that I don’t like to leave fights to the judges decisions.
Awakening: The fight is being shown live on German national television we believe. Are you aware if there will be a stream or way for UK supporters to watch the fight?
Kerry: It is indeed, on SAT1 TV, however I am unaware whether there is the opportunity to stream it in the UK.
Awakening: Should you become the new WKU World Champion, will your focus turn more so to Kickboxing and title defences, or will you also continue to pursue your other disciplines, including MMA and Muay Thai?
Kerry: Kickboxing will never be my sole focus, I am currently waiting on news of a match for BAMMA 25 in Birmingham and I will continue to fight both MMA and Muay Thai.
Awakening: Very soon after your title fight, we understand you have an important guest instructor engagement back in England with the youth initiative Academy of Hard Knocks. Can you tell us about this program and what it means to you to be a part of it?
Kerry: It’s a wonderful programme set up by Sam Rowe at the Fight Science Gym in Aldershot that aims to divert youth offenders and those with difficult backgrounds away from crime before they enter the prison system. It uses MMA as a focus for giving the young people life skills and tools to manage their aggression and channel their energies. I feel incredibly lucky to have been invited back to participate again as a lot of what it stands for really resonates with my early life and I love that we, as fighters and as community members, can do something so positive.
Awakening: That sounds interesting, what a great idea!
Awakening: British fighters Kate Jackson, Helen Harper and Lanchana Green are rumoured to be competing on the upcoming season of TUF 23, airing in April. There hasn’t been a female British UFC fighter since the retirement of pioneer Rosi Sexton. What are your thoughts on the UK being represented on such a large stage once again, and how do you think this may affect the women’s scene here in the UK?
Kerry: I can’t comment on who is participating in TUF, as I believe the casting is still subject to a media embargo, but I will say that it would be a great thing for both womens MMA in the UK and the fight community in the UK as a whole to see more females competing at that level and representing us on such a visible and marketable level. All three of the ladies you have mentioned are talented fighters and seeing them elevated to the world stage would be nothing short of fantastic in my eyes. In terms of how it would affect the WMMA scene here in the UK, it’s difficult to say. We are getting more females coming up through the amateur ranks at the moment, but there is still a huge lack of depth in all of the womens divisions in both the UK and pan Europe. Unfortunately I don’t think the reach of TUF is broad enough on this side of the Atlantic to have much of an impact in terms of bringing new women into the sport, but I hope that seeing talented females coming from Europe may galvanise the UFC and other major promotions into actively seeking fighters from the bigger European shows to include on their rosters.
Awakening: Ha, well we tried to get info from you atleast!
In February, your MMA fight versus Ireland’s Sinead Kavanagh at BAMMA 24 fell through after a change to weight class at the last minute. Can you tell us what happened?
Kerry: Well, I have already spoken about this a little, but essentially Kavanagh signed a contract in mid November 2015 to fight me at 135lb in February. In mid January 2016 she stated that she could not make the weight and wanted the fight at 145lb. I am a 135lb fighter and felt that she had had ample time to manage her weight for the contest, and so wasn’t prepared to take the fight at the higher weight class. I have no issues with fighting at 145lb if there is a good reason for it (such as a short notice match), but given that two of her other team mates pulled the same stunt on the same card, I rather felt that it was tactical and, in the circumstances, extraordinarily unprofessional. Thankfully, I know that BAMMA are on the lookout for matches for me for the May show, so I am thoroughly looking forward to making my promotional debut with them.
Awakening: We look forward to that too! We were fortunate enough to be at your Pro Muay Thai debut in September last year against highly rated in the UK Vicky Church, a fight that we’re happy to say was the best pro debut we’d ever seen. Can we expect to see more of you competing in Muay Thai? Are there any other fights on the horizon?
Kerry: I was due to fight on the Muay Thai Grand Prix toward the end of March, but there was some confusion regarding the match and unfortunately that’s fallen through, I certainly want to continue to compete in Muay Thai and I know that my coach has put me forward for some exciting opportunities – watch this space, as they say!
Awakening: Thanks again for speak with us Kerry, to close out are there any shout outs or Thank-Yous you’d like to make?
Kerry: Thank you to my amazing coaches Jez Lord, Stephen Byerley, Kyle Helleur, Steve Gladstone, Stuart Barlegs and Jack Mason. It’s a real pleasure working with these guys and knowing that every fight I walk into I have improved and advanced. Thank you also to all my training partners and sparring buddies at Semtex, Progressive Martial Arts and BKK Fighters for beating me up in the gym so that I never get a nasty surprise on fight night! A huge thank you to all the guys at Syndicate MMA in Vegas for hosting me and making me feel so very welcome – being coached by the likes of John Wood, Tom Lawlor, Vinny Malghales and Chaz Mulkey was a great experience over there, and training with all their fighters was a very humbling and developmental experience – special thanks to Roxanne Modafferi too, she looked after me whilst I was there and made sure I had a buddy to watch UFC with! A special thank you to Emma, Alex and my Dad, Brian. Their support through this training camp has been absolutely invaluable and kept me sane!
Please check out my amazing sponsors too – I work with them because they are the best in the business:
lockdownfightwear.com – for all your clothing and equipment needs
e-protein.co.uk – for sports supplements and nutrition products
Stephen Byerley Personal Training - @simplypt360
thenutritionandtrainingconsultancy.weebly.com – for personalised nutrition and diet management by Alex Ferentinos
pascha.de – My German sponsors for this world title fight