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Jeff Monson

Jeff Monson

Former UI wrestler | MMA heavyweight | Class of 1994

Before he was Jeff Monson — the tough-talking, body-slamming mixed martial artist you don’t want to be on the bad side of — he was Jeff Monson, nature-loving psychology major and family man.

Actually, he still is. Don’t let the gruff exterior of the Russian-American 1994 UI grad fool you.

“My wife and I had our first child while at the University of Illinois, and we moved to family housing. I would bike back and forth to campus every day, and I would pass by all the green houses and agriculture buildings,” says Monson, a self-described anarcho-communist who transferred to Illinois after winning a Pac-12 wrestling title at Oregon State.

“I know it doesn’t sound like the most exciting place, but I enjoyed it because of the peacefulness of this area. I really looked forward to my bike ride and crossing through this area as I could really unwind here and think about life.”