Skip to content Skip to sidebar Skip to footer


UFC 256’s Sam Hughes, coach detail eye injury, why Daniel Cormier was out of line

Three days after Sam Hughes made her UFC debut, and she was still in Las Vegas, which wasn’t part of her plan.

The extended stay was unexpected, but necessary, given the circumstances. In the 72-plus hours since her UFC 256 loss to Tecia Torres this past Saturday, Hughes (5-2 MMA, 0-1 UFC) and coach Eddie Grant of Catalyst Fight House have taken frequent trips to see the UFC’s ophthalmologist.

“The doctor told us that he’s been the ophthalmologist for the UFC for 15 years, and he said he’s literally never (seen it),” Grant told MMA Junkie on Tuesday night. “He knows this injury, but he’s never seen it happen in a fight.”

Hughes was diagnosed with a hyphema, or pooling of blood inside the eye. Per Grant, the UFC doctor informed them her iris was approximately 80 percent-filled with blood. She is expected to make a full recovery but has been prohibited from flying for at least four days as a precautionary measure.

“(The doctor) told me when we were in there,” Grant said. “He was like, ‘I really wanted to congratulate you and tell you good job for catching this. I don’t think other corners would have caught this injury and how bad it is.’ He was like, ‘You looked at it, and you knew right away.’ He was like, ‘I was really glad you decided to stop that fight. That was really smart.’

Image via Eddie Grant

The fight ended in an unusual fashion in between Rounds 1 and 2 after Grant told a commission official that his fighter would not compete further due to an eye injury. Hughes had told him she couldn’t see.

“I felt the poke and then I felt something in my eye,” Hughes said. “All I felt was that it was super fuzzy, super blurry. I remember trying to wipe my eye one time in the fight. Progressively, in not event 10 to 15 seconds, it shifted from being blurry to being dark, to being completely pitch black in my left eye.”

Grant added, “When we got in the cage, she was walking to where she heard my voice but her corner is actually on the other side, to her left. So I’m going in and I’m like, ‘Sam, Sam.’ And I can see she’s trying to find me. Then, she turns her whole body and then starts coming toward me.”

Seconds after the American television audience returned from a commercial break, referee Jason Herzog waived off the fight. While UFC commentator Joe Rogan began to defend Hughes, broadcast partner Daniel Cormier interrupted.

“As an athlete, you know if you say you can’t see, the referee is going to come in there and stop it,” Cormier said in the moment. “You could say, ‘Ah, I want to go. I want to go. I want to go.’ But if that man in the suit goes in, the guy from the commission, and he looks into your eyes – I did this in August (against Stipe Miocic). ‘DC, can you see?’ (You say), ‘Oh, I’m fine,’ because you want to go fight.

“… I’m not trying to crap on Sam Hughes here by any way, but just saying, ‘I can’t see’ tells the guy you’re done. They’re going to make you stop because even if her coaches let her go, the commission will come in and talk to you, and then it’s over.”

Grant wholeheartedly disagreed with any potential implications his fighter wanted out, while Hughes was disheartened by the narrative laid out after only her first UFC outing.

“I’m sorry, but that really got to me,” Grant said. “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 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.”

Hughes added, “(Quitting) wasn’t my intention at all. He asked a question, and I answered it. But if you look at the footage, I was like, ‘No, no, no, please don’t stop it,’ because I had full intentions of going into the second and third round.”

Every corner person has their own idea of the role they are supposed to fill. Grant said no coaches have voiced disagreement in his decision that he knows of. Fighters on the other hand, that’s a different story. But for Grant, looking out for his fighters’ safety is a top priority, even if they don’t like the outcomes of decisions.

“We’ve got to decide what we’re doing here,” Grant said. “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.

“I wouldn’t have taken a fight for $1 million if I knew she would lose an eye. I don’t care. Her eye is worth way more than $1 million to me as a coach and to her as a fighter. … If she were to be yelling at me right now, telling me she hated me for it, I’d still be 100 percent fine with it.”

In the moment, she wanted to continue, but now Hughes praises her coach’s decision – especially knowing how much worse her injury could’ve been in hindsight.

“I’m going to have great performances and re-sign multiple contracts with the UFC, so he was protecting me in the long run,” Hughes said. “If I were to beat Tecia with one eye, that would’ve been nice. But if that meant I didn’t fight again, then that would’ve been devastating.”

Show CommentsClose Comments

Leave a comment