Coner Hignett: Weight Cut Nightmares and UFC Dreams

Liverpool Flyweight Coner “The Hand Grenade” Hignett (6-4) has already amassed a 10-fight professional record aged just 23.

Travelling the globe, taking on all comers, he has gained great experience, exposure and a whole host of stories to go with it.

We at MMA UK caught up with Hignett ahead of a big year for the 125’er, in which he hopes to establish himself among the elite Flyweights on the biggest stages.

“It’s always the weight cut with me”

To see Hignett standing at 5’4 in tremendous shape, it seems strange that weight would be an issue for him. Even though he competes at the lower weight of 125lbs. A brief chat and it soon becomes clear it’s not a weight issue at all, its a timing issue. Late call ups and long travel has meant rushed, hampered weight cuts which have been a factor throughout his 5-year professional career.

Speaking about his 2014 debut Hignett openly admitted he shouldn’t have taken the fight and on paper, it’s clear to see why, but opportunity knocked and he answered for better or worse. “My first pro fight, I shouldn’t have taken. Two weeks notice, in Jordan, against the Jordanian number one. I had 8kg(17.5lbs) to cut in ten days. I lost a split decision in that one.”

Weight still remained an issue in 2018 too. Hignett’s last fight came under the Cage Warriors banner against top-ranked contender Sam Creasey. Again a late call. Again a tough cut. This one undoubtedly the toughest of his career.

“Sam Creasey, the weight fucked me up again… the night before weigh-ins I’m 65kg(143lbs) cutting 8kg(17.5lbs) in the sauna.” The weight cut so brutal Hignett was physically sick. “I was spewing up blood in the sauna.”

The weight cut is done. Now for the fun part right? Not so much in this fight for Hignett, who lost via first round TKO. Based on his warm-up story, the writing was pretty much on the wall with this result. “Before the fight, one of my coaches tapped me in the stomach, as if to say you ready to go. I’ve gone down from it because all my diaphragm was split from spewing up the night before.” A clearly compromised Coner Hignett fought on but things just went from bad to worse. “I’ve got in there and Sam’s tapped me with a knee to the stomach. I felt it. He’s got to mount and is driving his hips in suffocating me. He had me pinned, fair play to him, he’s a good fighter.”

These issues are ultimately avoidable, with the right time to prepare, Hignett makes weight better than most. His recently scrapped UKFC fight was evidence of this as he sat pretty much on weight with a week to spare. “I walk around 65kg (143lbs) at my heaviest. I’ve dieted down to 59kg(130lbs) and will probably reach 58kg(128lbs) a few days out. I won’t even have a cut, I’ll just be on weight, a salt bath and I’m done whilst everyone else is in the sauna.”

Whilst some may say, don’t take late fights and to avoid these issues, its much easier said than done. Especially for an ambitious young prospect such as Hignett eager to prove he can compete with the best, desperate not to allow opportunities to pass him by.

More must be done by the promotions to allow fighters adequate time to prepare and fight to their best ability.

“The UFC is still where you want to be”

Such is Hignetts ambition, he hopes to crack the world scene by the end of 2019 and for him, at least the UFC is still the premier organisation even for the smaller guys. He told us. “The UFC is still where you want to be.” Despite increased competition from promotional rivals and the uncertainty surrounding the future of the weight class, he fights in.

Although preferable, the UFC is not the only option for this Liverpool Flyweight who has other things in mind. “If the 125lb division is gone, it will probably be ONE(Championship). A teammate of mine is already looking on signing with them, Bryan Creighton… he’s really excited about it.”

Competing in these types of organisations isn’t just a dream for Hignett, but a real possibility in the near future. Already signed to South African MMA outlet EFC, who have Hignett on a 6 fight contract, with 5 left to run. With the right win, Hignett has the organisations Flyweight title in his sights. Championships and titles will surely attract the big promotions, although his talent has most likely already done that.

A shot at the big time, on one of Bellator’s UK cards seems very much in play for Hignett, who is eyeing the company’s Birmingham show on May 4th. “Bellator is in May. “We already have a few fighters on this card, I’m just trying to find an opponent for Birmingham.” Hignett seemed confident of his place on the bill, in what could be a chance for him to establish himself on a massive stage, to a global audience and ultimately put himself among the elite Bellator Flyweights.

Asked about his goals for 2019, his ultimate goal remains the Ultimate Fighting Championship. “I want to line myself for the UFC. Two wins and a title should do that. If not I’ll just keep taking fights as they come.”

A busy year is in store for Coner Hignett and with the right wins, we could see him competing at the top in the near future. At just 23 years of age, with 10 pro fights to his name, he’s one to watch for all UK MMA fans.

Be sure to follow his journey to the top @HandGrenade_01 on Twitter.

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