FD’s Mills bonds with dad
UFC legend Hughes has watched Dodger senior compete
When the Fort Dodge wrestling team made their anticipated trip to the “Beat the Streets” dual tournament in Chicago earlier this season, senior Brandon Mills got the chance to compete in front of his father, mixed martial arts legend Matt Hughes.
Hughes is a retired MMA artist with a background in wrestling. He is considered among the greatest fighters in the history of the sport as a former two-time UFC Welterweight champion.
Hughes is in the UFC Hall of Fame.
“It was great to have him there (in Chicago), and I was glad to see him,” Mills said. “He doesn’t get to be at many duals or meets, so it meant a lot that he was there to support the team and give me his opinion.”
Hughes was also known for his wrestling ability. He was a two-time 145 pound IHSA (Illinois High School Association) Class A state wrestling champion in 1991 and 1992.
During his junior and senior seasons, Hughes went undefeated and won back-to-back state titles. Over the final three years of high school, Hughes had 131 victories.
Hughes began his college career at Southwestern Illinois and placed fifth nationally at 158 pounds. He transferred to Lincoln College, where he placed third in the nation.
After graduation, Hughes continued his career at Eastern Illinois University, where he was a two-time NCAA Division I All-American. Hughes was eighth in 1996 and fifth in 1997 at 158. He ended with an 80-15 record for Eastern Illinois.
Mills has been following in his father’s footsteps, as the eighth-ranked 145-pounder for Fort Dodge. The Dodger senior has compiled a 32-11 record for Fort Dodge, and will be the sixth-seed in the 145-pound bracket beginning Thursday morning.
Whenever there is a chance to get advice from the UFC legend, Mills is glad he can reach out to his father.
“It’s great to have him by my side,” Mills said. “He’s been a champion at the top level and is one of the best.
“I wouldn’t want anyone else in my corner as I strive to be the best (in wrestling).”
Mills and the Dodgers will open the traditional state tournament at 9 a.m. in Des Moines inside Wells Fargo Arena.