Freelance: Matt Hughes in Truck Accident

UFC legend, Hall of Fame member, and former UFC welterweight (170-pound) champion Matt Hughes was involved in a truck accident just outside of Raymond, Illinois. Hughes is famously a native of nearby Hillsboro, Illinois and was seriously injured (with severe head trauma per UFC President Dana White) at 10:43 this morning (Friday, June 16.)

The Illinois State Police are currently investigating the matter although it was initially reported by earlier in the day that Hughes’ vehicle had been struck by a train. Per police and ESPN, “Hughes drove a pickup truck across a railroad grade crossing directly in front of a train and the train struck the passenger side of the truck.”

Hughes had been assisting a friend and west traveling east on a path known as Beelers Trail at the time of the incident. It is being reported by local sources that the crossing only had a sign and not lights as well. At the time of this writing, the former champion with two reigns and seven title defenses between 2001 and 2006 has since been airlifted to a hospital in the state’s capitol city of Springfield, Illinois.

His condition has only been described by police as serious at this point.

Hughes last competed in 2012 and after back-to-back losing efforts, officially announced his retirement from the sport of mixed martial arts on January 24. 2013 and was simultaneously promoted to a position exclusively created for him, UFC Vice President of Athlete Development and Government Relations. He had a 45-9 record with (35 finishes/ KO, TKOs, or submissions, a finishing rate of 78 percent.)

“Matt is one of those guys that was there from the early days and helped grow MMA to the modern, professional sport it is today,” White said at the time of his hiring. “He has been in the sport since the late 1990s and really seen it all. Matt is a two-time world champion in the UFC, he’s coached The Ultimate Fighter® reality series twice, has fought all over the world and has been in every situation a fighter can be in. Matt’s expertise makes him highly qualified for this.”

The organization sent out a graphic expressing their thoughts and concerns for Hughes and those close to him earlier today on social media.

He remained in that role until December of 2016 and had most recently been discussing a return to action (possibly under Bellator MMA given his release from the UFC.)

The country-strong 43-year-old veteran told renowned sports commentator Joe Buck that he had been in talks and many expected the opponent to be UFC 1, 2, and 4 tournament winner and fellow Hall of Fame member Royce Gracie.

The two originally faced off in a new-school vs. old-school collision at UFC 60 in May of 2006 with Hughes coming out on top with a win by way of TKO due to strikes in the first round. The chatter regarding another bout (although it would be controversial due to their ages) hadn’t progressed much but had continued before the accident.

The situation is still developing.