Paul Hughes. BAMMA 28. BAMMA / Marc Moggridge 2017. No unauthorised use without written consent.

What a night BAMMA 28 was for Paul Hughes. He made his professional MMA debut under the BAMMA banner in Belfast on Friday night with the demolishment of Adam Gustab.

The night went exactly as the young Derry native predicted, he told MMA Plus after his victory: “I was always going to finish him. It was something that me and Davey said when we took the fight. I was always going to go for the finish, but I like to stay technical the whole time.

“We may have gotten into a little bit of a brawl when I was chasing the fight, but I was able to analyze and take a step back and pick the shots and the finish came towards the end of the round.”

Hughes has multiple offers for his second pro fight

The big question after the fight was what would be next for Hughes, proving himself as one of the top young talents coming out of Ireland. The featherweight confirmed there are offers, but there’s plenty of time to decide.

“Me and Davey, we’ll analyze the situation and see what the future holds for us. Obviously I’m only 19 so I’ve a lot of time on my hands to plan and plot, but we’ll see. A couple of people have approached me already and I’m only out of the cage for 10 minutes about fighting on certain cards. We’ll analyze the situation and where to go from here. Plenty of time. No rush.”

Hughes confirmed on Facebook after the fight that he broke his hand and would be out of action until May.

The occasion can be something that gets to young fighters when they make their debut in front of a crowd that is expecting big things, such as the one at the SSE Arena last Friday. Not for Hughes. Even at 19-years-old, he displayed a calm that few of his more experienced peers possess.

“I’ve been basically training like a professional for the last couple of years and acting like a professional for the last couple of years so it’s nothing new to me going out there and doing that. It’s just the big arena is new, but I absolutely thrive in that and it suits me.”

That’s not to say that he didn’t take in the moment he’s been dreaming of for the last four years.

“I always like to be mindful. I always like to sorta be in the present moment so when I was walking out I took a minute and I looked around and I put my hand up and I took it in, but when I get into that cage all I was thinking was kill.

“Take this guy out and then I can enjoy it after. And I did enjoy it after. Jumped onto the cage and seeing everyone after but, make no mistake about it I’m there to finish people, I’m there to make a big massive statement like I did.”