This past Saturday night at UFC Fight Night from Vancouver, Hughes engaged in a fire fight throughout the first round but the action ended after Duffee complained about an eye poke while telling the referee and doctor afterwards that he was experiencing double vision.
The fight was stopped and declared a no-contest, which definitely wasn’t what Hughes wanted after losing a razor close decision in his UFC debut earlier this year. After returning to Ohio, Hughes sat down to watch the fight again and between the video evidence along with his own recollection, he just doesn’t believe he actually poked Duffee in the eye.
“I’m going to be honest with you, I’ve been poked in the eye and I’ve poked people in the eye before in fights. In my fight with [Maurice] Greene, towards the end of the first fight, I felt eyeball and I’m not doing it on purpose, I promise you that. I didn’t feel anything [with Todd Duffee],” Hughes told MMA Fighting on Monday. “I’m not calling him a liar or that he was milking it or anything like that. I didn’t feel it.
“I was trying to push away to get space after I turned him around on the cage, I was going to start striking again and that’s when he covered up and started screaming ‘my eye, my eye!’.”
Hughes admits he was confused by what was happening because he didn’t believe that he committed a foul but he was shattered a few moments later when he saw the referee waiving off the fight after declaring Duffee could not continue.
“I was a little confused by the whole thing. I was like I don’t think I got you,” Hughes recounts. “I went back and watched the replay and still didn’t see anything. I’m not calling the guy a liar. If I did, I apologize.
“I try to follow every rule there is and it was definitely unintentional if I did glance or even touched his eye a little bit. It was very unintentional.”
As far as Duffee’s reaction where he immediately told the referee that he was seeing double, Hughes knew watching the replay that the fight was going to get stopped because of that specific language being used.
According to Hughes, the referee laid it out straight to the fighters in the back when it came to fouls — unintentional or otherwise — and what needed to happen for the fight to continue.
“In the back, our referee came and talked to me and I’m sure he gave the same speech (to Todd Duffee),” Hughes explained. “If a low blow happens, I’ll stop it and you get a full five minutes. I guess in Vancouver you don’t get a full five minutes for an eye poke but he said if there’s an eye poke, the only words that I need to hear from you are ‘give me a couple seconds’. Do not say you can’t see or you’re seeing double because then I have to bring in the doctor.
“At this point, I’m looking over at Todd and he’s not wincing, he’s not blinking. I’m thinking he’s trying to get a breather, which is fine because we went hard for four minutes. When I saw the doctor come in, I thought no way this cannot be happening right now.”
As much as he wanted the fight to continue, Hughes refuses to accuse Duffee of wanting out of there after the break in the action in the opening round.
He can only speak to personal experience, which is why Hughes says it would take a lot for him to say anything to the referee that would lead to a stoppage.
“I’m just going off experience. My very first fight in the UFC, I broke my hand in the second round and my coaches didn’t even know until I took the glove off. I knew right away. I’m willing to fight with one eye if I have to,” Hughes said. “Him, maybe it was really bothering him.
“To me, the doctor would have to stop it without me and I’d be begging not to [stop it]. I don’t know him personally. I respect him as a fighter. I watched him coming up. He was just killing people. So I’m not trying to start a feud or anything with him but for me, I know it would take a lot for me to say I can’t fight. I would fight with one eye if I had to.”
As far as a rematch goes, Hughes is open to the possibility but he’s not chasing Duffee for a chance to settle some imaginary grudge. More than anything he just wants to compete again to finally get a win under his belt in the UFC.