Pictured above: Former UFC champion and Hall of Famer Matt Hughes (left), UMMAF President Frank Babcock (centre), UFC Hall of Famer Frank Trigg (right). By Dane McGuire, IMMAF U.S. Correspondent The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), the premier professional MMA organization in the world and IMMAF partner, kicked off its 25th year of operation last Sunday with its first trip to the “Gateway to the Midwest”, St. Louis, Missouri, home of national IMMAF member, the USA Mixed Martial Arts Kick International Federation (UMMAF). On June 16 of last year it was reported by multiple media outlets that two-time UFC welterweight (170-pound) champion, Hall of Fame member, and UMMAF board member Matt Hughes was involved in a terrifying accident with a train near his native Hillsboro, Illinois, that crushed his truck. As a result, Hughes fell into a month-long coma and was airlifted to HSHS St. John’s Hospital in the city of Springfield. Two months after the accident, Hughes was back on the mats training jiu-jitsu. His appearance in essentially his hometown of St. Louis was his first public appearance since the incident. Welcomed by a standing ovation, Hughes walked down to his Octagon-side seat with a fighter’s entrance, to his famous walk-out song: “A Country Boy Can Survive”. Hughes was inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame in 2010 and retired from competition in 2013 with a final record of 45-9, 17 KOs, 18 submissions. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J_2x7KVOKyw&=&t=7s UFC President Announces St. Louis PPV In a post-event media scrum it was revealed that the evening brought in a $812,995 gate and an attendance figure of 10,052—good enough numbers that the UFC will host a pay-per-view (PPV) event in St. Louis when the promotion next visits the city. “The crowd was awesome in St. Louis,” UFC President Dana White said per USA Today’s MMAJunkie.com. “This place is so great, man. I love the crowd. The whole place was screaming at me to bring a pay-per-view back here, and we will absolutely bring a pay-per-view back here. I loved it. “When we leave and get further out in the year and start planning dates, St. Louis is definitely on the books. One thing I love about this city, obviously it was a tough week for us with the card changes, but not only did it not affect – the ticket sales went up, they didn’t go down – no returns. This city wanted the UFC, and they were an awesome crowd tonight, and I will reciprocate with a pay-per-view and we’ll be back.” For the the full event recap visit UMMAF.org. The 2018 UMMAF National Championships takes place February 1-3 at the Isle of Capri Casino in Boonville, Missouri. It will be the first installment to feature a Youth National Championship for competitors between eight and 17 years old through UMMAF’s new youth development arm, the United States Fight League (USFL.) Register for the event here. Youth competitors please visit the USFL website’s Nationals page here for more information.