On Wednesday the Capitol was graced with a rare and special appearance by a true Illinois fighter.
Someone who has been pouring his blood and sweat into giving the public what they clamor for and yearn to see.
A genuine role model and spokeman for our state.
Crowds built wherever he traveled in the capitol building, eager for a handshake, comment, or photo.
I was one of the lucky ones able to catch up with the man himself:
9-time Ultimate Fighting Championship Welterweight Champion Matt Hughes.
A Hillsboro native, and Eastern Illinois alum, Matt was a wrestling champion before venturing into the professional fighting world in 1996. He has since come to dominate the octagon, earning national fame with over 43 mixed martial arts victories.
Ask any devout UFC fan and they will tell you, "He's kind of a big deal."
The Executive Director of UFC personally asked Matt to head to Springfield to offer support for a bill that is currently welded its way through the process. The bill would ease restrictions on the fighting in the state, allowing for increased UFC activity within the our borders.
Matt was incredibly gracious throughout his visit. The echoes of the Governor’s State of the State speech could be heard in the background while the fighter mingled with a growing crowd; word spread quickly of his presence in the capitol.
He eventually did grow tired of the attention. And, like any good fighter, a quick headlock signaled his intention to leave.
We wish Matt the best of luck. May he continue to use his brawn, stamina, and brute monstrousness to do us proud.