Coming from a family of strikers, including a grandfather who is a 7th Dan black belt in Uechi-Ryu karate, Connor Hughes has won several karate and kickboxing titles in his life. Entering this fight unbeaten at 7-0, the 26-year-old has recently been a staple of UKFC, most recently defeating Everton Cruz in March. The win over Cruz is Hughes’s only victory that went to a decision.
Dylan Tuke enters this fight at 5-3, with all five of his victories coming via stoppage. Last year, Tuke returned to MMA after a four-year layoff, defeating Nicolae Pirogan in March 2022 at MMA Battle Arena 66 before a loss to Estabili Amato at Budo 52 in November. Known as “The Nuke,” Tuke has competed in Bellator and Brave CF, the latter of which saw him face off with current Sodiq Yusuff.
The winner of this lightweight bout will earn a spot in the PFL Europe Playoffs, where they will face Jakub Kaszuba after he won his matchup earlier tonight.
Tuke starts on the outside, showcasing agility and some awkward movements. Tuke feinting to start, with Hughes standing in the center and trying to get a read on Tuke. Not much action in the opening minute of the fight. Low sidekick by Hughes. Tuke lands a low kick. Hughes tries for a combination but Tuke gets out of the way. High kick attempt by Tuke, but he doesn’t get all of it. Hughes with another low side kick. Tuke lands a solid left hand in a short flurry. Tuke starts to run around the outside of the SmartCage, trying to lure Hughes in. Hughes goes in for a combination, but Tuke dodges and dances.
Right hand from Hughes, and Tuke lets out a “Woo!” as he continues to pace around the outside of the SmartCage. Tuke lands a couple of left kicks to the body. A side kick to the body by Hughes. Tuke goes for another high kick before the two briefly exchange. Hughes lands a low kick, but Tuke lands a left straight and a right overhand. Hughes lands a hook kick, and one of Tuke’s eyes immediately swells up.
Low kick from Hughes almost right away as he looks to bring pressure. Tuke catches a kick and presses Hughes against the SmartCage in a takedown attempt. After some struggle, Tuke is able to get to Hughes’s back and brings him down, looking to sink hooks in. Tuke locks in a body triangle and starts to work over Hughes with strikes aplenty to the head.
Tuke continues his attack, but Hughes makes an attempt to scramble back to his feet, only to be pinned back down to the floor by Tuke. Tuke goes on the offensive as Hughes tries to sit himself up against the SmartCage. Hughes is able to get back to his feet with about 30 seconds left in the round, but it’s no use, as Tuke brings him back down and continues to land before the horn — wrapping up a dominant round for Tuke.
After the two share a hug in the center of the SmartCage to start the round, Tuke goes back to pacing and dodging, constantly moving all around the outside. Tuke lands a right hand. Hughes misses a one-two, but Tuke lands. A minute into the round and both land strong shots to the head. Tuke pins Hughes up against the SmartCage and is able to get back to Hughes’s back as he brings Hughes back down to the ground. Tuke locks in a body lock and goes back to landing fists to the head of Hughes.
Tuke looks for a rear-naked choke, mixing the attempts in with several punches to the head of Hughes, particularly the nose. A few body shots by Tuke as he belts out another “Woo!” with about two minutes left. Tuke continues to mix up shots to the head and body of Hughes, who is providing little to no defense against Tuke’s attack.
Tuke remains in the position and works over Hughes until the final horn. Tuke has ended Hughes’s undefeated run and earns a playoff spot!
Dylan Tuke def. Connor Hughes via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)