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Daniel Cormier Retires

July 5th, 2014 by Tom

wrestling shoes

Daniel Cormier retires from wrestling for good, leaves his shoes on the mat after win over Chris Pendleton.

--

Daniel Cormier tied a ribbon around his prestigious amateur wrestling career earlier this afternoon, defeating former Oklahoma State University (OSU) teammate, Chris Pendleton, in an exhibition match at UFC's "Fan Expo" in Las Vegas, Nevada.

"DC" went down early (0-3), but the U.S. freestyle wrestling team captain (2008) stormed back to record a dominant win on points (12-5).

He summed up the experience in a post-match interview with MMAFighting.com:

"I didn't get to wrestle in the Olympics, I didn’t get to do my last match, so I wanted to finish my career on mat, rather than in the hospital. I wanted to end it on the mat.... It felt crazy. I was so nervous before, and then Chris takes me down and he’s winning 3-0. It was kind of scary, man, I don’t like to lose. It was crazy.... It was a good finish. Now that I’m in the UFC and fighting in the UFC, and to do it at the Fan Expo, it means a lot. I guess it's a symbol of completely finishing that chapter and moving onto the next chapter in my life. I can feel it now already there was something back with wrestling that I needed to get rid of, and now I can move on from it."

Pendleton is certainly no scrub. He was a two-time Big 12 champion who won back-to-back NCAA titles (2004, 2005) at 174 pounds at the expense of uber-talented mat rat, Ben Askren.

And Cormier was able to handle him despite an injured knee, one that will require surgery to repair later this year as he awaits the winner of Jon Jones vs. Alexander Gustafsson, which is now set for UFC 178 in Las Vegas on Sept. 27, 2014.

Best NCAA Wrestlers Turned MMA Fighters

December 3rd, 2011 by Tom

By Brian Lopez-Benchimol

Of all the bases of martial arts to build upon a budding, MMA, career, wrestling has been one of the truer and more dominant.

Over the years, we have seen a steady increase in the amount of accomplished wrestlers entering the sport today, with some reaching great heights in becoming world champions in their respective organizations.

The NCAA wrestler represents the upper echelon of competitive athletes who have garnered praise from their conferences, often times having been scouted by larger universities due to their obvious prowess.

So, among the world's best MMA fighters today, who came from an NCAA background?

Ben Askren

Current Bellator welterweight champion Ben Askren, who recently defeated former UFC and Strikeforce veteran Jay Hieron in the first defense of his title, comes from a long and very prestigious background as an athlete.

Wrestling for the University of Missouri, Askren earned two state titles as a high school wrestler prior to his entry into the big leagues. As a collegiate wrestler, Askren became a runner-up at 174 pounds at the NCAA Division I championships in both 2004 and 2005. He later claimed the title in 2006 and 2007"making him one of the more accomplished athletes to have ever been as successfully competitive.

Askren parlayed his skills toward the 2008 Olympics. Though he came up short there, he has since rebounded with the success he has reached now, becoming an undefeated and highly touted mixed martial artist.

Joe Warren

Current Bellator featherweight champion-turned-bantamweight hopeful Joe Warren has enjoyed a lot of success as an MMA fighter while he is still gunning for a competitive amateur career as a wrestler.

Warren attended East Kentwood High School, where he won two state titles before attending the University of Michigan. His star really shined afterwards.

Warren took gold in two World Cup tournaments before earning first once again in the prestigious Pan American Games in 2006, making him an early favorite in the 2008 Olympic Games. However, Warren failed to qualify for the prestigious tournament after he had tested positive for marijuana in the pre-drug screenings.

He will now look to accomplish the feat that had slipped his grasp in years prior, as Warren will look to compete in the 2012 Olympic Games.

Chuck Liddell

The former UFC light heavyweight champion Chuck Liddell came from a long history of athleticism as a youth.

At the age of 12, Liddell began Koei-Kan Karate and later took up football in high school, become a four-year starter at San Marcos High.

Liddell would later attend California Polytechnic State University, transitioning his skills to the mat, where he became an NCAA Division I wrestler for the school, though he failed to acquire any real title recognition.

No matter, as Liddell has since used his wrestling base, coupled with knockout power, to become one of the most recognized and popular fighters in the world of mixed martial arts. He has since been inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame.

Cain Velasquez

The current UFC heavyweight champion, Cain Velasquez comes from a rich background as a wrestler.

Velasquez took to sports early, as he wrestled all four years at Kofa High School, winning the 5A Arizona Wrestling Championship twice, compiling an astonishing 110-10 record in those formative years.

Velasquez attended Iowa Central Community College, where he wrestled for one season and won the NJCAA National Championship.

The heavyweight great went to the prestigious Arizona State University, where he became a standout early on the NCAA Division I scene, placing fifth in the country in 2005 and fourth in 2006 while compiling an overall record 86-17.

Now, Velasquez enjoys the success of his MMA career, where he remains undefeated and presides as the UFC's undisputed heavyweight ruler.

Matt Hughes

The former two-time UFC welterweight champion built his illustrious career as a mixed martial artist thanks to his extensive wrestling background.

Hughes attended Hillsboro High School, where he became a two-time IHSA Class A State Wrestling Champion at 155 pounds. Next, Hughes attended Eastern Illinois University, where he immediately earned NCAA Division I All-American honors, placing eighth and fifth in his final two years at 157.

Though collegiate titles escaped him there, Hughes has since become one of the more accomplished mixed martial artist to have ever lived.

Randy Couture

How do you follow after such an illustrious photo like that?

As a youth, Couture wrestled early in life beginning in middle school before attending Lynwood High School, where he became state champion in his senior year.

Couture later attended Oklahoma State, where he became a two-time runner-up for the NCAA Division I championship while earning All-American honors. After his collegiate career, Couture went on to become a three-time Olympic alternate before transitioning to the world of mixed martial arts.

There, Couture first claimed the UFC heavyweight title in just his fourth bout as a professional. Since then, Couture has acquired a total of five titles in the organization"three in the heavyweight class and two as a 205-pounder, a feat that has been unmatched since.

Josh Koscheck

Koscheck comes from a long and rich background as an amateur wrestler and, on paper, was one of the best to enter the Octagon.

Coming into prominence at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, Koscheck won all of his 42 matches as a junior, going on to become the Division I champion at 174 pounds.

The enigmatic Kosheck earned All-American honors after coming in fourth, second, first and third, respectively, in his four years at Edinboro. His accomplishments helped earn him three PSAC Wrestler of the Year awards while earning the Eastern Wrestling League Achievement Award on two separate occasions.

Since then, Koscheck has been regarded as one of the top-five welterweight fighters in MMA, having defeated the likes of Diego Sanchez, Paul Daley and Matt Hughes in his career, while challenging for a world title in the process.

Kevin Randleman

The future UFC heavyweight champion was always a powerhouse, even in his earlier days as a youth.

Randleman attended the prestigious Ohio State University, where he competed at 177 pounds. Randleman became the two-time NCAA Division I champion, earning All-American honors after his incredible and storied run of becoming one of the few men to earn the title back-to-back (in 1992 and 1993) after becoming a runner-up in 1991 as a sophomore.

After his collegiate career, Randleman moved into the world of mixed martial arts, where he first came into prominence in the UFC and became the undisputed champion in just his third bout with the organization.

In his career, Randleman holds notable victories over the likes of former champion Maurice Smith, Pedro Rizzo, Renato Sobral and former Pride great Mirko Cro Cop.

Phil Davis

One of the more promising stars in the mixed martial arts world, Phil Davis first built his star on the foundation built as a collegiate wrestler.

He began that career at Penn State, finishing fifth at the NCAA Division I championships in 2007. Davis would later earn the prestigious title in 2008 as a senior, graduating as a four-time All-American while compiling an overall 116-17 record.

Since then, Davis has gone on a tear as a professional mixed martial artist. Davis went on a 4-0 run is less than one year's time before being called up to the UFC, where he defeated former WEC champ Brian Stann in his debut.

Since then, Davis remains undefeated and has gone 5-0 inside the Octagon, with his last bout earning him top-10 status after defeating former Pride star Antonio Rogerio Nogueira.

Shane Carwin

The powerhouse in Shane Carwin first built his base as a collegiate wrestler.

Carwin attended Western State College in 1996, where he became the NCAA Division II runner-up both in 1996 and 1997. Eventually, Carwin earned the NCAA Division II heavyweight national championship in 1999 and later became a volunteer coach for the University of North Colorado.

It was in that area where Carwin linked up with the Grudge Training Center, headed by top trainer Trevor Wittman. Since then, Carwin has earned world recognition, beginning his career with an 8-0 start before making his way to the UFC.

There, Carwin has earned knockout victories over the likes of Christian Wellisch, former title challenger Gabriel Gonzaga and former champ Frank Mir"the latter of which earned Carwin the interim title in the process.

Matt Hamill

Though Hamill competed on the Division III circuit in his amateur wrestling career, he deserves recognition nonetheless since he accomplished much while being deaf.

Hamill attended Rochester Institute of Technology in 1996. In 1997, 1998 and 1999, Hamill earned the NCAA Division III championship, competing at 167, 190 and 197 pounds, respectively.

Invited to the 2001 Summer Deaflympics, Hamill won a silver medal in Greco-Roman and gold as a freestyle wrestler.

Hamill then transitioned his skills to the mixed marital arts scene, where Hamill joined the UFC on the heels of his stint on The Ultimate Fighter on Season 3. Hamill became a top contender in the 205-pound class, where he earned impressive victories over Keith Jardine, top contender Mark Munoz and former champion Tito Ortiz.

Mark Coleman

Former UFC champ Mark Coleman, much like all successful heavyweight hopefuls, built his career on his collegiate career as a wrestler.

Beginning wrestling as a teen, Coleman attended Miami University in Ohio, where became the two-time Mid-American Conference champion. In his final year, Coleman transferred to the prestigious Ohio State, where he won the NCAA Division I title and clinched his spot as an All-American athlete.

Coleman earned a spot on the U.S. Olympic wrestling team, placing second at the FILA Wrestling World Championships and seventh overall at the 1992 Summer Olympics.

Coleman would later be labeled as the "godfather of ground-and-pound, "when he transitioned to the MMA scene, winning the UFC 10 Tournament in his debut as a pro in 1996.

Coleman would win the subsequent tournament before becoming the organization's first heavyweight champion by besting Dan Severn with a first-round submission. A subsequent Grand Prix title in the Pride organization built Coleman's star, where he was eventually inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame.

Mark Munoz

On paper, Mark Munoz could very well be the best wrestler to ever enter the UFC.

Attending Vallejo High School, Munoz earned the California State Wrestling Championship twice at 189 pounds and the 1996 NHSCA national high school championship as well.

Munoz was later scouted and recruited by Oklahoma State University after having been one of the most-sought-after wrestlers in the country. Munoz earned two Big 12 titles while taking home the prestigious NCAA Division I title in his senior year.

Munoz also took his skills into international waters when he earned the silver medal at the FILA Junior World Wrestling Championships in 1998.

Since then, Munoz has become of the fast rising contenders in the middleweight division in the UFC, having bested the likes of Kendall Grove, Aaron Simpson, C.B. Dollaway and most recently Demian Maia, besting the former title challenger by decision.

Tyron Woodley

Current Strikeforce phenom Tyron Woodley came from humbling backgrounds as a youth.

Born 11th of 13, Woodley grew up in Ferguson, Missouri. When he was at McCluer High School, Woodley was a natural athlete, becoming a two-time state wrestling finalist before earning his first official title as a senior when he totaled a 48-0 record.

Woodley attended the University of Missouri, alongside Ben Askren, where he earned NCAA Division I honors and All-American stature. He became team captain from 2003-2005, earning the Big 12 title in 2003 before becoming runner-up in 2005.

Since then, Woodley has been coveted as one of the top prospects in MMA. Woodley is undefeated as a pro, holding notable victories over the likes of Andre Galvao, Tarec Saffiedine and former UFC contender and Strikeforce title challenger Paul Daley.

Mo Lawal

An international success in every sense of the word, "King "Mo first took to the MMA scene on the heels of a very extensive wrestling career that extended past his collegiate efforts.

Growing up in Texas, Lawal became a two-time high school state runner-up in 1997 and 1998 before taking the title in 1999 at the Texas state championships.

Lawal attended the University of Central Oklahoma, where he competed for three years in the Division II circuit, becoming the 2001 runner-up before taking the NCAA Division II title in 2002. He later earned the Big 12 title in 2003 before moving up to Division I.

Lawal took third before he went on to the international circuit, where he earned a litany of titles and totaled well over 20 medals and/or titles. Once an Olympic hopeful, Lawal transitioned to the world of mixed martial arts in 2008.

Lawal took a big splash in his MMA career when he defeated UFC veteran Travius Wiuff in his debut, knocking out the touted heavyweight in a little over two minutes. Eventually, Lawal became the Strikeforce 205-pound champion when he defeated Gegard Mousasi by decision.

Cole Konrad

A successful collegiate wrestler-turned-world champion"this story sounds familiar.

Cole Konrad began his career as an accomplished wrestling standout at Freedom High School, compiling an overall 101-15 record winning the Wisconsin state championship in 2002. Konrad entered the Junior National Championships, earning titles in both Greco-Roman and freestyle wrestling.

Konrad attended University of Minnesota, where as a junior, Konrad went undefeated, eventually parlaying his success to the NCAA Division I championship. Konrad again repeated the amazing feat as a senior, going undefeated again and taking the prestigious title in 2007.

At the Pan American Games in 2005, Konrad won the freestyle wrestling title in the 120 kg division.

Since then, "The Polar Bear "has become a hot MMA prospect. He has found lots of success as a pro, earning the Bellator heavyweight championship after defeating a bevy of opponents in the organization's first tournament.

Victories over Damian Grabowski and UFC veterans Neil Grove and former title challenger Paul Buentello anchor his list of accolades.

Don Frye

MMA great Don Frye has become one of the more notable fixtures in all of the sport, thanks to his moustache, persona and overall fighting skills that rely on his wrestling background.

Frye attended Buena High School in Sierra Vista, where he first found wrestling, and attended the prestigious Arizona State University, where fighters such as Cain Velasquez, C.B. Dollaway and Aaron Simpson have all called home at one point.

Frye won three Pac-10 titles in college, earning Division I All-American honors for his efforts which he later parlayed into Olympic run. In 1987, Frye won both the freestyle and Greco-Roman events during the Olympic qualifier, where in his senior year he finished out his career at Oklahoma State.

Since then, Frye has been recognized as a pioneer in MMA, winning the UFC 8 tournament upon his mixed martial arts debut and the heavyweight tourney in December of 1996. For some time, Frye held the record for fastest knockout in the UFC after he finished Thomas Ramirez with a KO punch in just eight seconds.

Jon Fitch

Despite convincing himself that he is not an athlete but a tireless worker, Fitch does come from a competitive background as a wrestler.

Attending Carroll High School in Fort Wayne, Indiana, Fitch wrestled at Purdue University as a walk-on. Fitch wrestled while under the watchful eye of mixed martial arts icon Tom Erikson.

A four-year letterman, Fitch became team captain of the Boilermakers, compiling an overall 97-12 record and earning NCAA Division I honors.

Though he went relatively unaccomplished as a collegiate athlete, Fitch has since become one of the more notable figures in mixed martial arts. He is considered universally as the consensus No. 2 fighter in the welterweight division.

Fitch has compiled an overall 13-1-1 record inside the Octagon and holds notable victories over the likes of Thiago Alves (twice), Diego Sanchez and Paulo Thiago, while having challenged for a world title against current champion Georges St-Pierre, turning in a "Fight of the Night "worthy performance in defeat.

Johny Hendricks

Hendricks attended the highly touted Oklahoma State University on the heels of a long and accomplished wrestling career in high school, where he earned three Oklahoma state titles whilst competing for Edmond Memorial High School.

In 2005 and 2006, Hendricks took home the NCAA Division I title, wrestling then at 165 pounds.

Hendricks finished second in 2007, making him a four-time All-American at the university, polishing off his career with three Big 12 titles before making his way to the world of mixed martial arts.

Since entering the Zuffa fold, Hendricks has gone 8-1 under both the WEC and UFC banners. He holds an overall 11-1 record, and his lone defeat comes at the hands of contender Rick Story.

Hendricks holds impressive wins over The Ultimate Fighter Season 7 winner Amir Sadollah and Charlie Brenneman"knocking out both men before the final bell.

Jake Rosholt

UFC veteran Jake Rosholt remains as accomplished as they come on the collegiate scene.

Beginning his career at Sandpoint High School, Rosholt would win three Idaho state titles and the national title in 2001 at 189 pounds.

Rosholt attended Oklahoma State University, where he won the NCAA Division I title in his freshman year, a feat that is rare.

Rosholt again claimed NCAA fame again in 2005 and 2006, earning All-American honors all four years of college while making him a legend in the wrestling scene. He's one of only a few men to earn three NCAA titles.

Following his accomplished collegiate career, Rosholt moved to the world of MMA, where he went uncontested in his five outings. He entered the UFC on the heels of his brief stint in the now-defunct WEC promotion.

In the organization, he picked up a convincing victory over perennial contender Chris Leben, submitting the heavy hitter with a third round arm-triangle choke.

Brock Lesnar

When Brock Lesnar was born in Webster, South Dakota, a star was born.

Lesnar picked up the wrestling bug at an early age when he attended Webster High School, securing a 33-0 record in his senior year.

Lesnar attended the University of Minnesota on scholarship, where he would take second place at the NCAA Division I championships. Lesnar vindicated himself in 2000 when he took the title, earning All-American honors in his final two years at the university.

In his four years as a collegiate wrestler, Lesnar compiled an astounding 106-5 record overall.

Though a stint as a WWE star soon followed, Lesnar eventually made his way to mixed marital arts, where he joined the UFC in February of 2008. In just his second professional bout, Lesnar took on former world champion Frank Mir, besting him early before succumbing to submission.

Eventually, Lesnar earned the heavyweight title when he defeated UFC Hall of Famer Randy Couture and later avenged his defeat to Mir by successfully defending his title, TKO'ing the jiu-jitsu expert on second-round strikes.

A victory over Shane Carwin followed, legitimizing Lesnar's place a world-ranked MMA fighter.

Ryan Bader Looking To Continue Meteoric Rise

October 7th, 2010 by Tom

Ryan Bader Ryan Bader, a light heavyweight prospect climbing the ranks of a stacked division only four fights into his UFC career, has been on a meteoric rise since his time in "The Ultimate Fighter" house.

His rise can quite simply be summed up with the opponent the UFC has selected him to take on next, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira.

Nogueira's extensive career in the sport has garnered him a reputation as one of the best, and at UFC 106 he showed why.

The Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt and top level striker took on fast-rising knockout artist Luiz Cane in his UFC debut, decimating his fellow Brazilian in the opening round with a striking assault that led to the knockout. He followed up the win with an unimpressive split-decision victory over Jason Brilz at UFC 114, but, regardless of his prior performance, his reputation as one of the division's best remains.

And Bader realizes this.

"I'm not going to take anything lightly judging from his last fight at all," said Bader in his interview with UFC.com. "It's a huge step up in competition. A top five, top ten guy, but that's where I want to be. You're not going to progress not fighting those kinds of guys."

Bader is progressing in this sport at an impressive rate. His opponent, a 22-fight veteran of mixed martial arts, having fought in promotions such as PRIDE and Affliction, has been fighting since 2001. Bader, on the other hand, has only been a professional mixed martial artist since 2007.

Yet even with only limited experience, the 11-0 light heavyweight has cruised through nearly every fighter set before him. He rolled through the competition on "The Ultimate Fighter", won his next two fights, and then the promotion considered him ready for a big jump up in competition.

Keith Jardine, a longtime veteran of the sport and former contender, was his most recent test, the man to determine whether or not Bader could enter into the next tier of competition. Bader battled Jardine for two and one-half rounds before earning the knockout victory in what was certainly one of his most impressive wins to date. But, with the work ethic and drive he has, one should not be surprised at the consistent results.

"If there is anything that I take from Lil' Nog is the respect and that I do have to work my ass off in the gym," said Bader. "Day in and day out, I'm going to put that work in and there's nothing left to do but fight. You can talk all you want. You can go over gameplans all you want, but it's on you when you get in the Octagon, when you touch gloves, do whatever you have to do. You're in a fight now."

Bader will certainly find himself in a competitive fight on September 25. "Lil' Nog" is undoubtedly his most accomplished opponent yet. While Nogueira brings with him a well-rounded game with his high level striking and Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Bader brings with him incredible wrestling and power in his hands.

Bader's most notable success in wrestling began while he was in high school, winning two state championships during his time at McQueen High School. After that, Bader joined the highly-touted Arizona State University wrestling squad, joining the likes of Cain Velasquez and C.B. Dolloway on the squad. While there, Bader won three PAC 10 championships and was a NCAA Division I All-American on two occasions.

To say his amateur wrestling career was a success simply does not do it justice. Bader boasted a phenomenal career with a plethora of championships and an incredible amount of wins (120 throughout his collegiate career). Bader, however, says that all his accomplishments are pushed aside when the cage door closes, because in a fight, no matter how many titles you have held, or how many wins you have, the man across from you is looking to take all the credibility you have gained away from you.

"Accolades and everything go out the window," said Bader. "It's just you and your opponent. I want to be the best. My ultimate goal is to be champion and I have to go through these guys to do that."

Author: Nate Lawson

The 6 Sickest Amateur Wrestling Slam Moves

August 26th, 2010 by Tom

With Matt Hughes employing an amateur wrestling headlock to choke his way to victory over Ricardo Almeida at UFC 117, I figured the time was right to feature some more nasty amateur action "in this case, some slams. Now some of these moves aren't strictly legal in the legal sense of the word, but they're all incredibly painful to watch. Let's get to the action.

Wrestling Slam

You have to blame the recipient for this one "instead of pivoting to go down on his back, he tried to fight it and ended up going on his tender little head. Apparently he got back up and continued the match, which just proves that teenagers are indestructable.

Cary Kolat Backflip

This is just freaking sick "when his opponent went for a single-leg takedown, Pennsylvania high school student and future Olympian Cary Kolat whipped out a full backflip to escape it. Bravo.

Best Example of an Illegal Slam Ever

This is obviously a completely illegal slam "in amateur wrestling, for a slam to be legal, the person delivering it has to touch a knee to the ground before any part of the recipient's body hits, preventing high-impact injury. This was a high-impact injury, and the dude laying it down is psyched.

Very Illegal Slam

Slo-mo replays at the end make this stuff even more painful to watch, but this is some serious grappling ability on this kid's part. The best part is when he steps away from his opponent's potentially concussed corpse on the ground with his hands up in the air like "Who, me?"

Wrestling High School Kyle Starling illegal slam 215 soph year vs Air Academy Duel

This one doesn't cut right to the good stuff, but there's a story behind it. Apparently the kid in the blue was all psyched for his next match, against one of the opposing school's best in his weight class. But then the coach pulled the guy he was hyped to go against and subbed in a new kid with a 25 pound weight disadvantage. Results: epic pain.

Incredible Illegal Wrestling Slam

In wrestling, you're always looking for an opportunity. And sometimes one arises that you just can't pass up, as was the case in this high school match where the kid in the red singlet accidentally gives up his leg, leading to an utterly sick slam.

This particular slam owns for all the right reasons. 1) it was completely legal, with Kirk White's knee going down before he mauls his opponent. 2) the slo-mo at the end with hella Satan voice. 3) White even has a name for the move (a rarity in NCAA wrestling circles) "the "Death Sentence." Pure win.

There you have it, the 6 sickest amateur wrestling slam moves.

Author Author: K. Thor Jensen

2008 NCAA Champ PHIL DAVIS Makes UFC Debut Feb 6

January 15th, 2010 by Tom

Phil Davis, 2008 NCAA Division I 184-pound champ for Penn State, will be competing at UFC 109: Relentless at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas on Saturday, February 6.

Davis, who signed with UFC just last month, will be facing former World Extreme Cagefighting champion Brian Stann, who played football at the US Naval Academy.

A four-time NCAA All-American wrestler, Davis built a 116-20 collegiate career with the Nittany Lions. The 25-year-old Harrisburg, Pennsylvania native owns a 4-0 professional MMA record, having competed inside the Palace Fighting Championship, Ultimate Warrior Challenge and Ultimate Cage Fighting Challenge promotions. In Davis' most recent MMA event in June, he submitted David Baggett with a rear-naked choke in 3:37.

To read the rest of the story...

http://www.examiner.com/examiner/x-7334-College-Wrestling-Examiner~y2010m1d8-2009-NCAA-champ-Phil-Davis-to-make-UFC-debut-February-6

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."

Brock Lesnar Credits God for His Physique

July 6th, 2009 by Tom

The former University of Minnesota wrestling All-American and current Ultimate Fighting Champion heavyweight title holder in an interview credited God -- and not steroids -- for his physique.

By PAUL WALSH, Star Tribune

Former University of Minnesota wrestling All-American Brock Lesnar, the current Ultimate Fighting Champion heavyweight title holder, took a swipe at President Obama in an interview and bragged that he is "built like a black man "as he credited God -- and not steroids -- for his physique.

Lesnar's smorgasbord of comments came in an interview with Maxim that was published in May and posted Friday on Fightline.com, a website that covers mixed-martial arts, ultimate fighting and other forms of professional wrestling.

Lesnar was a two-time All-American and 2000 NCAA heavyweight champion for the Gophers. His post-college career took off when he became a star with the WWE for two years, a part of his life that he recalled with some regret.

"You live a double life, "the 285-pound Lesnar said. "I was tired of trying to be who I was in the ring and then coming home for two days to be normal. They didn't allow you to be. The guys who get out are the smart ones, really and truly."

Lesnar also took a swipe at President Obama when talking about having money for the first time in his life while in the WWE.

"I acted foolishly, "he said in the interview, noting the he owned four homes (one in western Hennepin County), a private plane, two Hummers and a Mercedes. Asked whether he has saved for retirement, he responded: "That's private. But if Obama keeps spending our money like this, I'll have to fight till I'm 50."

Concerning steroids and his ability to stay ripped, Lesnar said.

"I bet you I've taken over 60 steroid tests. In college, I had 15 random drug tests in two years. I've taken drug tests for the NFL, the WWE, the UFC. I must be pretty good at masking steroids. God gave me this body: Are you jealous of it or what? Give me a break.

"I got the genetics of--not to get into racism or anything--but I'm built like a black man. Would you say so?"

One day before his 32nd birthday, Lesnar defends his UFC title vs. Frank Mir on July 11 in Las Vegas. Lesnar won the championship from Randy Couture last November.

Filed under Amateur Wrestling, MMA, WWE having 1 Comment »

UFC fighter Evan Tanner found dead

September 9th, 2008 by Tom

"I believe there are people out there that just have a warrior spirit, whether it's fighting or something, they've got to do it. It's hard to identify with me; it's just something I do."
---Evan Tanner, 2005

On what will unquestionably be remembered as one of mixed martial arts' saddest days, former UFC middleweight champion Evan Tanner - beloved by fans for his fighting ability and by friends for his free spirit "has passed away at the age of 37.

Tanner, on a camping trip in the Palo Verde mountain area, was found by an Imperial County Sheriff's Department Deputy on Monday. The cause of death is not known at this time. He had not answered friends' text messages since last Wednesday, and was officially reported missing on Friday.

On his personal Spike TV web blog, Tanner discussed the trip and how a failure of equipment could be fatal, but in a subsequent blog, he downplayed such fears, writing, "It seems some MMA websites have reported on the story, posting up that I might die out in the desert, or that it might be my greatest opponent yet, etc. Come on guys. It's really common down in southern California to go out to the off road recreation areas in the desert about an hour away from LA and San Diego. So my plan is to go out to the desert, do some camping, ride the motorcycle, and shoot some guns. Sounds like a lot of fun to me. A lot of people do it. This isn't a version of "Into the Wild". I'm not going out into the desert with a pair of shorts and a bowie knife, to try to live off the land. I'm going fully geared up, and I'm planning on having some fun."

His agent, John Hayner, says that Tanner was excited about the trip and in a good place physically and mentally before his untimely death.

"He was in a good state of mind the last time we spoke," said Hayner. "Everyone that was around him, and even at the gym he was training at, also said he was in a great state of mind. Living in Oceanside (California), he really liked being on the beach. His house was across from the water, he was in beautiful surroundings."

If one thing was ever clear about Tanner, it was that he loved life, the outdoors, and adventure.

"He was always planning on going on some sort of adventure," said Hayner. "And he never needed the finer things or made a fuss about them. He just needed enough for gas, shelter, and training."

A native of Amarillo, Texas, Tanner worked various jobs as a bouncer, a cable TV contractor, a framer building beach houses, a dishwasher, a baker, a ditch digger, and a slaughterhouse worker before stumbling on to mixed martial arts in 1997.

Over the next 11 years, fighting would be a major part of his life, to the tune of 42 professional bouts, but as he said earlier this year before what would be his final bout against Kendall Grove, he never considered himself a fighter.

"I always thought of myself as the poet, the writer, or the philosopher "I never thought of myself as a fighter," he chuckled. "But here I am. I always had an idea of the flow of my life, but not exactly what I would be doing day to day. And fighting definitely wasn't something I thought I'd be doing."

But he was good at it "very good in fact. Over the course of his career, Tanner (34-8) scored wins over Paul Buentello, Heath Herring, Ikuhisa Minowa, Justin McCully, Elvis Sinosic, Phil Baroni (twice), and Robbie Lawler. His biggest win, however, came at UFC 51 on February 5, 2005, when he stopped David Terrell in the first round to win the UFC middleweight championship.

Tanner would lose the belt to Rich Franklin in his first defense four months later, but the fans never abandoned him, and he returned that admiration, both in person and through his internet blogs.

"I wanted to give something back to the fans and let them know that I'm just a regular guy," said Tanner in early 2008. "Some of the guys forget that and get caught up in the lights, and I never want to forget that and that I'm one of the lucky ones that got a chance to get out there and do this. There are a lot of great athletes out there, a lot of great fighters that never got the chance. I'm one of the lucky ones that did, so writing the blog and telling life as it is helps me stay grounded and it gives me a way to connect with the fans and give them something back."

His blogs were more than just fight talk and product advertisements though. Tanner spoke frankly about life and his struggles in and out of the Octagon. And when
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he made his return to the UFC in 2008 after almost two years away, it was a triumph of the human spirit and an inspiration, regardless of whose hand was raised at the end of the fight.

"My thought was that I'm in a position where I've done some things and some people look up to me a little bit and maybe something in my story can help inspire them or motivate them to get through some things or do something better," said Tanner before his return against Yushin Okami at UFC 82 in March. "If that's the case and it helps anybody else out, then it's worth me facing the embarrassment."

He fell short in his final two bouts against Okami and Grove, but there was no keeping him down, and his off-time after the Grove bout was filled with more of his adventures, as well as participation in Harley-Davidson's 105th anniversary celebration.

Sadly, there will be no more adventures, only memories of Evan Tanner.

"Evan was such a unique individual, and he was okay being an individual," said Hayner. "He was okay with taking the path less traveled, and he often chose that harder path."

It was simply who he was. Just read the words he spoke to me before I wished him luck for his fight against Grove in June.

"Everything's been about the journey," he said. "I never really set out with goals for fighting; it's been about the adventure along the way. When you're on your death bed, it's those stories, those little adventures that are going to be the things that you remember. It's not so much getting there, but how you got there."

And he did it his way.

Leave it to me as I find a way to be
Consider me a satellite, forever orbiting
I knew all the rules, but the rules did not know me
Guaranteed
---Eddie Vedder, "Guaranteed". The song playing on Evan Tanner's myspace page.

Rest in Peace, Evan.

From: UFC Site

Marty Morgan Leaves U of Minnesota To Prep Lesnar For Next MMA Bout

September 6th, 2008 by Tom

 Marty Morgan was the top assistant under head coach J Robinson at Minnesota for 13 of his 16 seasons on staff. While at Minnesota, Morgan helped secure the program's status as one of the most successful collegiate wrestling programs in the nation.

Head assistant wrestling coach Marty Morgan resigned from his position at the University of Minnesota on Tuesday afternoon after 16 years with the program. Morgan will go on to train former Gopher All-American wrestler Brock Lesnar, a popular Ultimate Fighting Championships (UFC) competitor, on a full-time basis.

"I'm going to step back for a year to help Brock [Lesnar] train and I'll see where I'm at next summer. I've been working with Brock [Lesnar] the past few years on his training and now I've been offered a unique opportunity to work with him full time. "Morgan said. "This has definitely been a difficult decision, considering that I have been involved with the program for 20 years as an athlete and coach. I am happy to have a great relationship with the University of Minnesota administration, J Robinson, the wrestling staff, past and current team members, and numerous fans around this great wrestling state."

A native of Bloomington, Minn., Morgan began his collegiate wrestling career at North Dakota State where he won a Division II national championship as a true freshman before transferring to Minnesota. Morgan was a three-time All-American for the Gophers and won a national title at 177 pounds as a senior in 1991. With a 39-0 record during his senior season, Morgan became the first wrestler in school history to finish with an unblemished record and is one of just three wrestlers in Minnesota history to accomplish that feat. He capped off his career with the Big Ten Medal of Honor, which is awarded to a Big Ten student-athlete who demonstrates excellence in academics and athletics.

Morgan was the top assistant under head coach J Robinson for 13 of his 16 seasons with the program. During his time at Minnesota, Morgan helped secure Minnesota Wrestling's status as one of the most storied and successful programs in the nation. Under Morgan's watch, the Gophers attracted some of the nation's most sought-after recruits on a regular basis and won national titles in 2000-01, 2001-02 and 2006-07. The Gophers have also captured six Big Ten Conference championships under Morgan's tutelage.

"Marty has been around Minnesota Wrestling for 20 years, but this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for him to step away for a year and to see what else is out there, "head coach J Robinson said. "I think it's important for people to see different opportunities that life has to offer from a different perspective and a year away from the program can provide that perspective for Marty. He will be obviously missed this year with the way we do things, but we look forward to working with him in the future."

The Gopher wrestling program, which boasts one of the nation's highest-rated recruiting classes again this year, begins its 2008-09 season with the Bison Open in Fargo, N.D. on Nov. 15. Minnesota's first home wrestling event comes when the Gophers host fellow perennial national power Oklahoma State in a New Year's Day dual at the Sports Pavilion.