Monday, 28 March 2011

NCAA wrestling’s best: Five who should transition to MMA

You don't have to be a hardcore fan to know that collegiate wrestlers fare well in MMA. Just looking at fighters from cards this month, both Urijah Faber and Phil Davis made their names at the NCAA Division I level before moving on to MMA.

This past weekend, the NCAA Division I championships went down in Philadelphia, with Penn State taking the team championship, and the unbelievable Anthony Robles winning outstanding wrestler. Which wrestlers would make a good transition into the cage?

Jordan Burroughs: He won the national championship for Nebraska at 165 pounds, dominating every step of the way. No one had an answer to his double-leg takedown, and he already has the foot and head movement that will help him transition to MMA. He's already caught the eye of fighters, as Strikeforce heavyweight and two-time Olympic wrestler Daniel Cormier called dibs for American Kickboxing Academy to train Burroughs.�Seeing the job they did with Cain Velasquez, Josh Koscheck and Cormier, it would be a good home for Burroughs.

Bubba Jenkins: Arizona State's Jenkins had a rough road to the top. He transferred from 2011 champ Penn State to ASU, where he blossomed. He pinned PSU's David Taylor -- the wrestler who took his spot at Penn St. -- in the finals. After that, he said in a press conference that he can't wait to fight. "MMA is next.�I'm excited about it.�I got fast hands, fast feet. The camera's going to love me, I hope.�I got a good smile for it. "

Not only does he already "get" selling a fight, he even gets merchandising. ASU fans wore shirts around Philly all weekend reading, "Free Bubba." Sponsors, MMA gyms and promotions should line up to sign Bubba.

Jordan Oliver: As the 133-pound national champion for MMA factory Oklahoma State, Oliver would find no shortage of mentors in the sport. He has a scrappy, fast style that would easily transition to MMA, but that will have to wait. Oliver is only a sophomore, and also reportedly has plans to pursue Olympic gold when his collegiate career is finished.

Ed Ruth: The Nittany Lion fell short of an individual title because of an injury that took him out of a quarterfinal match, but he made his mark on the 174 division. Ruth's technical abilities combined with his long, long arms could give him quite an advantage as a fighter. He just finished his freshman year, so MMA fans will have to wait a while before we know if Ruth wants to fight.

Zach Rey: A national champion at heavyweight for Lehigh, Rey is insanely strong. Like, throwing-around-285-pound-men-like-they-were-rag-dolls strong. He could improve his footwork, but that makes him no different than any other heavyweight wrestler transitioning to MMA. He also has another year of eligibility, so any plans for MMA have to wait.

Did you watch the championships? Tell us who you'd like to see fight in the comments below or on Facebook.


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