Amateur Wrestling news, gear and photos from the side of the mat.

Blog Archives

Whole New Gear Store

March 6th, 2010 by Tom

We're currently working on redoing the gear store here at WrestlingPod. The last one unfortunately died out over time and we have a new store build off some cool WordPress plug-ins.

The new store currently has sections for wrestling shoes, books, knee pads, singlets and headgear. There are also sections for MMA gear and boxing equipment. Plus more are getting added all the time.

The store is based off Amazon as we don't actually have product. However, we do want to offer up some gear suggestions and showcase some great prices and Amazon is a perfect match for that.

We also have a used gear store too that is based off eBay. Between Amazon and eBay, it's hard to find a better price.

So check out the links to the right of this post and browse for some cool wrestling, boxing or MMA gear. There's a link at the top of the site if you want deals on wrestling shoes.

Brock Lesnar Acts Like a Clod

July 27th, 2009 by Tom

LAS VEGAS "So Brock Lesnar, in the parlance of pro wrestling, had gone straight heel.

After bludgeoning Frank Mir to retain the Ultimate Fighting Championship heavyweight championship at the hyped UFC 100, the former pro wrestling star decided to put on a real show.

Lesnar ran around the octagon flipping off the Mandalay Bay Events Center crowd with both middle fingers. He shouted at Mir as the challenger sat on a stool trying to regain his equilibrium. Mir stood up and they went sort of nose-to-broken nose before Lesnar cackled with laughter.

In the post-fight interview, Lesnar encouraged the booing fans to "keep going" before continuing to taunt Mir.

No one and nothing was spared. Lesnar even turned his attention to the UFC itself, which paid him an estimated $3 million for the fight, pointing at the giant Bud Light advertisement in the middle of the octagon.

"I'm drinking a cooler full of Coors Light, Coors Light because Bud Light won't pay me anything."

Anything for the children at home, big guy?

"Hell, I might even get on top of my wife tonight."

With his clown-show antics, Brock Lesnar just became the greatest villain in modern fighting. From refusing to tap gloves prefight in a sportsmanlike ritual to this over-the-top rant that came right out of the silly wrestling circus.

"Straight WWE," said a stunned Dana White, the president of the UFC. "Brock went so far over the top tonight I can't even describe it. I don't think in the history of the UFC we've ever done anything like that."

Postfight, White pushed his way into Lesnar's crowded locker room and took the big guy into the bathroom for a private "discussion." Lesnar himself described it as "a whip-the-dog session."

"With women in here you don't want to know what I said," White said. It worked, Brock showed up at the press conference smiling, supposedly contrite and even drinking a Bud Light.

"First and foremost I want to apologize," Lesnar said. "I acted very unprofessionally after the fight. I screwed up and I apologize. I apologize to Bud Light. I'm not biased, I drink any beer."

It was mostly a chance for laugh lines, but it was still an apology. Lesnar said the pent-up energy of avenging a loss to Mir caused him to go crazy. "I'm a sore loser," he said. "I don't like to get beat. I believe I gave that fight to him. So there was a lot of emotion in this fight for me.

"Man, I was so jacked up. I'm used to selling pay-per-view tickets. I come from a business that is purely the entertainment business."

And so that was the excuse. Lesnar didn't flip, he just flipped the switch back into Vince McMahon's operation where nothing is too over the top. The UFC, however, is real and it has tried to position itself not as a blood sport but one based on sportsmanship and mutual respect.

Lesnar did the UFC no favors in that regard. And neither did veteran Dan Henderson, who dropped a vicious forearm smash on an already knocked out and prone Michael Bisping on the undercard. Henderson then admitted he did it on purpose to avenge prefight trash talk. The UFC even went on to award him its $100,000 "knockout of the night" bonus. White also gave Henderson a talking to, but Henderson still said it "felt good."

The damage done to the UFC's mainstream momentum remains to be seen. While some will be repulsed, others will be drawn in. It's cage fighting, after all. Things get out of hand.

That this occurred on the promotion's biggest night, when the numerical significance of the card was expected to bring in a large first-time audience, wasn't appreciated by the UFC. The night was electric and highly entertaining. And while it is likely to most offend people who weren't disposed to giving mixed martial arts a chance in the first place, White was aghast at Lesnar's act. This isn't what he built. This isn't what he wanted.

"What he's doing out there tonight is not real," White said. "You don't have to act like something you're not. This isn't the WWE. I don't ask these guys to act crazy so we get more pay per views. That's not the business I'm in."

In the meantime, the cementing of Lesnar's reputation as the promotion's most hated man is done.

"Brock hasn't made himself very loveable," White said. "They hate Brock." For the UFC, a classic villain is business gold. He's the ultimate leading man for the organization. Some loathe him. Some love him. No one can ignore him. For those seeking his comeuppance however, there isn't a WWE storyline that can be written to stop him.

Lost in the antics was Lesnar's performance, a brilliant effort that showed both his growth as a mixed martial artist and the immense potential. The question becomes, who the heck can tame this mountain of a man from the Minnesota woods?

Shane Carwin? Cain Velasquez? Mir in a final chapter of a trilogy of fights? No doubt they'll get a chance, and no doubt they stand a chance.

The greatest beneficiary of each Lesnar snarl, however, lives in Stary Oskol, Russia, a man named Fedor Emelianenko who is considered the No. 1 heavyweight (if not pound-for-pound fighter) in the world. If anyone has the knockout power to stop the 6-3, 265-pound Lesnar, it's Emelianenko.

Fedor doesn't fight in the UFC though. He's with its rival promotion, Affliction. He'll fight Aug. 1 in Anaheim, Calif., in what is the last match of his contract. Affliction is hoping to re-sign him until 2012, but the UFC will come hard after him. More now then ever. And that means money, big money.

"Eventually Fedor is going to be here," White said. "I want Fedor. We'll end up getting that deal done and then we'll do Brock vs. Fedor and we'll do a huge fight."

Time will tell, but the pressure to sign the elusive Russian has been ratcheted up. A villain was born and there isn't an obvious superhero in sight. The UFC brought Brock Lesnar over from the WWE for just this kind of a sensation. And the big man has delivered "the good, the bad and the embarrassing.

Only Dana White has no scriptwriters that can contain him.

Filed under Amateur Wrestling, WWE having 1 Comment »

Ex College Wrestlers Making Decision Sooner To Go Into MMA

July 27th, 2009 by Tom

The career: Punching guys in the face in the world of mixed martial arts.

The job candidates: Two wrestling state champions from St. Edward, two accomplished college wrestlers, two athletes looking for a way to turn their sport into a job.

The difference: Timing.

Six years ago, after he left Michigan State, Gray Maynard stumbled into his new life in a Las Vegas gym. For the latest generation of wrestlers such as Ohio State senior Lance Palmer, ultimate fighting is part of the plan.

Maynard and Palmer may wind up in the same place, but Palmer is starting his path much sooner

College basketball players have the NBA, college football players have the NFL, and now, college wrestlers have the adrenaline-stoked combat sport that combines the jabs and hooks of boxing, the takedowns and holds of wrestling and the kicks and attacks of judo and jujitsu.

For years, the booming world of mixed martial arts, led by its leading organization, the Ultimate Fighting Championship or UFC, has been populated by former college wrestlers, including big-name champions such as Randy Couture and Tito Ortiz. Former Ohio State national champion Mark Coleman helped introduce wrestling techniques to UFC as it entered the mainstream 13 years ago.

As more wrestlers, including Olympic champions, turn to MMA, the relationship is no longer coincidental. The pure and noble enclave of amateur wrestling is now a breeding ground for the next ultimate fighters.

"I think I'll be pretty good, "said Palmer, a Columbia Station native, obviously eager to make the leap after graduating next year. "My type of intensity is better for hitting a guy in the face and attempting to brutalize him. That's actually legal in MMA and not in wrestling, so I think it'll be fun."

 Gray Maynard: "I know guys where it's like, 'I don't get like getting punched, I hate getting punched.' Me? I don't care. I like it. It's up to you, I guess."

Grappling with options It's more than fun. It's a job, and an opportunity that wrestlers willing to take and throw a punch are embracing, anything to turn years of training into a paycheck. Michigan State wrestling coach Tom Minkel, well-versed in MMA, said more of his athletes now have a way to continue their careers in an outlet other than coaching.

"That's been the missing link in college wrestling forever, "Minkel said. "Now I think most of the guys who come through here give MMA some thought. They see it's an option."

Skeptical of the sport at the start, Minkel become a convert after one of his former wrestlers, Rashad Davis, embarked on an MMA career in 2004 that led to him becoming the UFC's light heavyweight champion in 2008. Now, Minkel believes nearly everyone in the college wrestling community has come around on MMA, even if some, like Ohio State coach Tom Ryan, have done so reluctantly.

"I'm not a huge proponent of it, "Ryan said. "I want these guys to come out of college and get their degrees and do something. But I do think there's an element to it that these guys are making a living and supporting their families, and it's an opportunity for them to have a better lifestyle.

"For me, you have to get with it. It's become a reality."

Despite this new acceptance, wrestling is also fighting back, throwing a financial punch to retain its elite practitioners. Last month, USA Wrestling created the Living the Dream Medal Fund, increasing the monetary awards to wrestlers for medaling in the Olympics and world championships. For example, the reward for Olympic gold is jumping from $40,000 to $250,000 -- or about what a top UFC performer might earn for a major bout.

But making the Olympic team, much less medaling, remains a long shot. Hopping into what's known as "The Octagon "in the world of UFC? That makes for a shorter and quicker trip to the bank for athletes who have been training for decades with little expectation of a payoff.

Currently an assistant coach at Cal-State Fullerton, Mark Munoz has been coaching since he finished wrestling as an All-American and a 2001 national champ at Oklahoma State. He backed into his UFC career like so many other former wrestlers -- a friend making a suggestion, skepticism fading after the first exposure, the belief in his own abilities pushing him to take a chance.

"I've got a wife, four kids, two dogs, a rabbit and a master's degree, and I can't support my family with the sport of wrestling I love so much, "Munoz said. "The reality of it is mixed martial arts pays the bills."

His major break came at UFC 96, the pay-per-view event held at Nationwide Arena in Columbus in March.

(The top ultimate fighting cards have been numbered since 1993, with UFC 100 on the way Saturday in Las Vegas.)

In Columbus, Munoz fought another former wrestler, Matt Hamill, and was sent to the mat, knocked out and motionless for nearly five minutes, by a move a wrestler would never see. Hamill's kick to the head -- actually, a shin to the side of the head -- brought a violent end to the evening for Munoz, who eventually walked out of the ring in a neck brace.

Now that's reality.

Not all the right moves So the move for wrestlers entering MMA isn't sideways. When you're coming from the mat to the Octagon, there's a step back before you go up. Maynard did that, and he dominated his fight at UFC 96 by staying on his feet and using virtually none of his old St. Ed grappling moves, but his three years of boxing training instead. Wrestling is a part of MMA, but it's not all of it, or even half of it.

Body control and angles and the ability to train yourself into exhaustion are where the crossover occurs, and every MMA fighter will tell you that the ability to take an opponent to the ground when the going gets tough is a great edge. And some matches, which can end with submission holds, can be dominated with wrestling techniques.

"When a guy has an arm or a leg or a guy is wrapped around your waist, it's more comfortable for guys that have wrestled, "Ohio State's Palmer said. "It's more of an easy transition than for someone who has been a boxer and wants to fight MMA and has never been hit by a leg attack or been on top of a guy or underneath a guy. I think it gives wrestlers a big advantage when they step in the Octagon."

But then there's that punching in the face -- or kicking -- part of it.

"You've got to have that attitude that you don't mind getting punched, "Maynard said. "There's a lot of guys who are good at wrestling that don't want to start all the way down here. You've got to learn boxing, you've got to get beat up -- it's hard to go all the way back.

"You've got to be tough. You're going to get punched, you're going to get kneed, and that's every day. If you're in a good training school, you're going to take a beating every day. I know guys where it's like, 'I don't get like getting punched, I hate getting punched.'

"Me? I don't care. I like it. It's up to you, I guess."

By that standard, Palmer, who radiates a level of intensity and almost-angry toughness, is a model candidate to transition from his first love into his next.

"He's going to be an animal in mixed martial arts, "said Mike DiSabato, another former Ohio State wrestler who's now heavily involved in the marketing and merchandising of MMA. "Lance has all the tools to be very, very good and in a very short time."

He won't be rich right away. Maynard, a rising star in the lightweight division with a 7-0 UFC record, said he would still be making more money at the moment if he'd stayed in his first post-college career -- real estate. But in real estate, you almost never get to punch someone in the face.

DiSabato, who entered the sports apparel business after graduating from Ohio State in 1991 and got hooked on MMA in 2007, would like to see the competitors make a little more money than they do. But compared to staying in wrestling and "devoting your life to poverty, "as DiSabato called it, he believes in this route for athletes like Palmer, and the wrestlers who come after him.

"If there was a young kid who wanted to be [an MMA] fighter, I'd say don't fight until you're 18 or 20 years old. I don't want you getting hit in the head until then, "DiSabato. "But between now and then, wrestle and do jujitsu. Once you're tough enough to go through that, then go into this game."

So that's Palmer's plan. He won four high school state wrestling titles at St. Ed between 2003 and 2006. At Ohio State, he has been an All-American each year, finishing fourth, eighth and fourth at the NCAA Championships. He'll hone his boxing and jujitsu skills during the off-season, while still chasing a last shot at his ultimate goal -- an NCAA title.

In the past, it may have ended there. These days, that's just a start.

"When I graduate, I want to go right into MMA, "Palmer said, "while I'm still young enough and have the body to withstand the battle."