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Are wrestlers the true combat warriors?
Take a look at the current MMA landscape, wrestlers are collecting more hardware than a dad with an unlimited credit card at a Home Depot.
Just by looking at the UFC we’ve seen Henry Cejudo, Daniel Cormier, Jon Jones, Kamaru Usman and most recently Justin Gaethje reign supreme in their respective weight classes. Gaethje just claimed the interim title in the lightweight division to set up a match-up with Khabib Nurmagomedov, who is an elite wrestler in his own right, to be the undisputed chamion.
Cejudo and Cormier are the only two to win and defend their titles in two different weight classes and Cejudo, Jones, and Usman are the current titleholders. In addition, Tyron Woodley held down the welterweight thrown and is the current #1 contender in the weight class since losing the title to Usman.
Only two men have ever won and defended belts in two weight classes. Just so happens both were on the Olympic wrestling team. Get your kids in that wrestling room! Good to be apart of history with @henry_cejudo @usawrestling Thanks @ESPN for the graphic pic.twitter.com/J186RwWTYH— Daniel Cormier (@dc_mma) May 13, 2020
Bellator has an incredible stable of former wrestlers on the scene right now that includes current Light Heavyweight champ Ryan Bader, Michael Chandler, Phil Davis, and Darrion Caldwell just to name a few. We would be here for a very long time if we went down the entire list. But with that said, it looks like they will be chock full of former mat rats for a long time as All-Americans Jacobe Smith and Nick Piccinnini just announced that they started training with fellow former Oklahoma State Cowboys Daniel Cormier and Kyle Crutchmer and Deron Winn at AKA.
But like I said, the list of former wrestlers who are on the MMA scene is long. And with the amount of success that precedes them along with what we are already seeing from guys like Joey Davis, Logan Storley, Johnny Eblen, and Crutchmer who are a combined 30-0 in their young careers, it’s safe to say that wrestlers will continue to dominate the cage for a while. We've barely even scratched the surface here, but you've got to give a hat tip and major props to Kevin Jackson who was one of the OGs to make the move to the UFC after wrestling in 1997 before retiring with a 4-2 record in '98.
On the female side, Olympic silver medalist Sara McMann developed a strong presence in the UFC. But with the current landscape being what it is we will probably see a good amount of female wrestlers make this same move in the coming years.
Ben Askren enjoyed his time at the top of Bellator and ONE Championships, despite making UFC history in the worst way, to have a 1-2 record in the Octagon.