Former UFC welterweight champion Matt Hughes made a triumphant return in front of MMA fans worldwide Sunday night at UFC Fight Night 124.
Back in June last year, Hughes, 44 years old, was hospitalized with a serious head injury after a truck he was driving was struck by a train in Illinois. Hughes was unconscious and unresponsive for several days.
Months later, Hughes left the hospital and continues to recover with each passing day from the serious accident.
With the Octagon in St. Louis this weekend, UFC president Dana White and the promotion decided to honor Hughes and bring him in as a guest of honor.
“He dominated the weight class and set records,” White said.
A member of the UFC’s Hall of Fame, Hughes defended his title seven times over two reigns. He owns the most finishes for the welterweight division in the UFC at 11, and his eight finishes in title fights is second-most.
“You can’t count me out,” Hughes said. “No matter the situation I’m in.”
Hughes, wearing a Robbie Lawler t-shirt, made that walk again to the Octagon before embracing White to sit and watch the action cageside.
Prior to his run in the UFC, Hughes was a two-time All-American in wrestling with Eastern Illinois University. He placed fifth and eighth at the NCAA meet following third and fifth place finishes for Lincoln and Southwestern Illinois in wrestling at the junior college level, where he was later inducted into the hall of fame.
Hughes is also a member of the Eastern Illinois University Hall of Fame.
He made his last official appearance inside the Octagon as a competitor in 2011, falling to Josh Koscheck. During his career, Hughes scored wins over the likes of Renzo Gracie, Matt Serra, BJ Penn, Royce Gracie, Frank Trigg, Georges St-Pierre, Carlos Newton and Sean Sherk.