Ex-wrestler, UFC champ Hughes airlifted after truck, train crash

Matt Hughes, former UFC middleweight champ and All-American wrestler, was airlifted to a trauma center after the pickup truck he was driving collided with a train Friday morning.

The Belleville (Illinois) News-Democrat reported Hughes was in critical condition at HSHS St. John's Hospital in Springfield, the state capital.

Matt Hughes
The hospital issued a statement Friday evening, saying its its trauma team "stabilized him and continues to help him in his recovery." The statement went on to state, "Hughes' family asks that you respect their privacy during this difficult time. They ask that you keep Matt in your thoughts and prayers."

UFC president Dana White told he had been in contact with Hughes' family, saying, "Apparently he has head trauma."

According to Illinois State Police, Hughes, 43, drove a pickup truck across a railroad grade crossing near Raymond, Illinois, 12 miles north of his hometown Hillsboro, "directly in front of a train and the train struck the passenger side of the truck" at 10:43 a.m. Central Friday.

The Belleville newspaper reported the crossing was marked by a crossbuck railroad crossing sign, without lights or gates.

Hughes held the UFC's welterweight championship at various points between 2001 and 2006. He is recognized as one of the greatest 170-pound fighters of all time, according to ESPN. Hughes launched his pro mixed martial arts career in 1998, and had not fought since 2011. He compiled a 45-9 record in MMA, and was welcomed into the UFC Hall of Fame in 2010.

Prior to entering MMA competition, Matt Hughes was an accomplished wrestler. He was a two-time Illinois Class A state champion at 145 pounds for Hillsboro High School in 1991 and 1992.

Hughes then started his college career at Southwestern Illinois College. After the school eliminated its wrestling program, Hughes transferred to Lincoln College (Illinois), where he placed third at the NJCAA (National Junior College Athletic Association) National Wrestlling Championships. After graduating from Lincoln, Hughes continued wrestling at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, where he was a two-time NCAA Division I All-American, placing eighth in 1996 and fifth in 1997 at 158 pounds.

UPDATE 6/19/17

The following message was posted on Beth Hughes Ulrici's Facebook page Sunday:

"Official Family Statement

"Our family is overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support.

"Please understand that there are many false reports out there by people who say they are close to the family. We will post another update here when we have more news.
Matt is stable and has no broken bones or internal injuries. He has some minor lacerations and bruising and is currently being weaned from his ventilator. He is not yet awake and not responding as we would like to see but we see the fight in him.
Matt's strength and determination along with God's Mercy and Grace will bring him through this.

"We ask that you all continue to pray."


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