Just over four months after he was involved in a horrific car accident, UFC legend Matt Hughes returned to the hospital he was treated at to thank the nurses who helped in his recovery.
Hughes, 43, went back to HSHS St. John’s Hospital on Tuesday to honor the two nurses who treated him immediately a train collided with his truck in June. Hughes broke down to tears at the event, which he attended with his Audra and his two daughters, Hanna and Katelyn.
“My family and friends have told me that the entire team at St. John’s was really good to me and all of them,” Hughes said Tuesday during the ceremony. “It means the world to me. Thank you all so very much.”
Hughes thanked nurses Ashley Hull and Megan Simpson for their care, and they received the DAISY nurse award, which is given each month to a nurse at St. John’s Hospital. Hughes’ friend Tony Zucca nominated the nurses for the award because of their around-the-clock care.
Watch a video of the ceremony honoring the nurses below:
On June 16, Hughes was driving a pickup truck in Raymond, Illinois when his truck rolled over a set of train tracks. The two-time UFC champion didn’t see a train coming, and it struck his vehicle on the passenger side.
Hughes was rushed to the hospital via helicopter, and it was later determined he suffered no broken bones or internal injuries, but was unawake and unresponsive.
It was feared he suffered spinal injuries, and his family released a statement updating his health condition on June 18. It said they were working with the nonprofit Triumph Over Tragedy Foundation to figure out what the next steps were in his recovery.
In August, Zucca posted a video of Hughes and him doing Brazlian jiu-jitsu, showing he was getting healthier.
I leave for only five days and come back to his ass wanting (and able) to roll! Unbelievable! Spare me the grappling lessons. The only things that are important: firing muscles that haven’t been used in a long time…and having fun! So awesome to see that smile and hear that laugh again. If I posted a video from day one and compared it to today…and you still didn’t believe in miracles…well, there’s nothing that’s ever going to change your mind.
Hughes’ last fight was in 2011 against Josh Koscheck at UFC 135. He retired from fighting on January 24, 2013 and was named its vice president of Athlete Development and Government Relations.
Hughes, who’s known as one of the greatest welterweight fighters in MMA history, was inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame in 2010. He thanked for everyone who supported him throughout his career in his speech.
I’d like to take this award and cut it in pieces and give it out. I couldn’t have won this award by myself. I definitely give God a big piece, I give my wrestling coaches from high school and college a piece of it. A big piece I would give to the UFC. You don’t win an award like this and say you’ve done it all by yourself. I’ve got a great family at home. God’s blessed me.
During his title reign, he was regarded as the best pound-for-pound MMA fighter in the world. Some of his best-known fights include bouts against Georges St-Pierre, B.J. Penn, Frank Trigg and Carlos Newton.