Biography & Testimony
|Matt Hughes is the 9-time World Welterweight Champion of the UFC. With a record of 45-9, Matt has traveled the world and has become a household name amongst mixed martial arts fans. He has proven time and time again that ‘a country boy can survive.’ However, it hasn’t always been like that for Hughes. You see, Matt comes from humble beginnings.|
|Matt was born and raised in Hillsboro, a small town with a population of 4,500 that is located in south central Illinois. As youngsters, he and his twin brother Mark spent most of their time on the family farm playing and learning the importance of hard work. Matt often remembers being ‘volunteered’ by his father to help family friends on their farms and still recalls his dad driving home the principle that ‘You never take advantage of someone else’s misfortune.’ Matt and Mark’s participation in sports was quite limited while in junior high. As a matter of fact, their junior high sports career only included the interschool wrestling tournament (Mark beat Matt in case you were wondering) and a couple of weeks of 6th grade track. The Hughes boys were needed during the fall and spring to help around the farm and, thus, had to hang up their spikes for work boots once the spring planting season began.|
Matt (#40) and Mark (#42) in their senior year at Hillsboro High School
|The twins both played football and wrestled during their high school days at Hillsboro. Matt and Mark both played running back and linebacker for the Toppers. In Matt’s senior year he ran for over 800 yards as he and Mark both earned All-Conference honors. However, it was on the wrestling mat where both young men found their home. Matt qualified for State as a freshman (135-pound class) on the wrestling team, beginning a streak of 4 years that saw Matt end each year at the Illinois State Championships in Assembly Hall on the University of Illinois’ campus.|
|During his junior and senior years in high school, Matt went undefeated and won back-to-back State championships in the 145-pound class. He had an impressive record over the final 3 years of his high school career. In those three years alone he totaled 131 wins against only 2 losses, both which came during his sophomore year (sophomore 43-2; junior 43-0; senior 45-0). His twin brother Mark was making a name for himself at the same time, finishing as the State runner-up during his senior campaign. The Hughes boys led Hillsboro to three 4th place team finishes as well.
Uncertain of what to do upon graduation, both brothers attended Belleville Area College (BAC) for one year. At the conclusion of their freshman year at BAC, wrestling was cut as a varsity sport and, therefore, the twins found themselves continuing their wrestling careers at Lincoln College. Despite different locations the results were the same as Matt earned All-American status on the junior college circuit at both Belleville and Lincoln. Matt placed 5th in the 158-pound class as a freshman and 3rd in the same class a year later, while brother Mark was earning All-American honors of his own finishing 5th at 149. It was after his sophomore year that Matt accepted a scholarship to attend Eastern Illinois University (EIU) in Charleston, IL. Matt’s adjustment to the level of Division I athletics did not take long as he earned All-American status by way of his 8th place finish in his first year at EIU. He followed that up by placing 5th at the NCAA DI championships making him four for four. That is, each of the four years he wrestled in college, he earned All-American honors.Once his collegiate eligibility ran out, Matt became an assistant wrestling coach at Eastern while also working as an electrician’s apprentice. It was during 1996 when friend, Chris Dwyer, approached Matt to fight at a small show at Madonna High School in the Chicagoland area. Matt won his first fight earning $100 in the process. Matt’s second fight did not come till a year later when he went back to the same show. After winning a second time, he teamed with manager Monte Cox. It was at this time when the fights became more frequent and after his sixth fight in the U.S. began traveling overseas. Since then, Matt has found himself fighting on the foreign soils of Japan, Kuwait, Abu Dhabi and Great Britain, as well as, from coast-to-coast and Hawaii in his home country.
It is no secret that Matt\’s greatest opportunity to date in the octagon occurred during UFC 34 when he took the stage against the then-world-champion Carlos Newton. Hughes made the most of this opportunity, knocking out Newton in a come-from-behind victory; earning, for the first time, the belt and title as the “UFC World Welterweight Champion.”
|In 2004 Matt lost and regained his UFC title; however, it was the time sandwiched between those two fights that brought about the greatest changes in his life. About the time of Matt’s loss to BJ Penn, he started attending church with his long-time friend and fiance, Audra Moore. Church was not new to Matt, but it had been some time since he attended on a regular basis. You see, he and his brother had grown up going to church with their mother, but by the time high school came around their attendance became nonexistent. At nearly the same time, Mark and his wife Emily began looking for a church in which to raise their family. Though unplanned by them, both brothers found themselves attending the same church. Shortly thereafter, Mark Hughes surrendered his life to Jesus and was baptized. Matt married Audra on July 9th and was intently seeking answers to many spiritual questions. During a Texas Hold ‘Em game at the family farm, he was asked if he would like to help out on a youth group mission trip to a Mexican orphanage named Rancho 3M. He and his brother both committed that night to going, although Matt later confessed his intentions of going were not because of God, but rather because he likes hard work, he likes helping people and enjoys hanging out with some of his new church friends. Needless to say, God had other plans.|