Burroughs, whose Twitter ID is @allIseeisgold, wrote: “MMA is brutal. Great sport, but not for me. I will never step foot in the Octagon,” after seeing the bloodied and battered faces of the two contestants in the Bellator 106 main event where Eddie Alvarez defeated former University of Missouri wrestler Michael Chandler for the lightweight title. (Chandler and Burroughs wrestled each other at least twice in college.)
The two-time NCAA champ for University of Nebraska quickly followed with this Tweet: “I'm a wrestler at heart. Always have been. Always will be.”
Just two years ago, Burroughs, who this fall won his third straight gold medal in world freestyle competition at 74 kilos/163 pounds with titles at the 2011 and 2013 World championships to bracket his 2012 Olympic gold, seemed open to the idea of an MMA career.
When asked in an early November 2011 radio interview with Luke Thomas of MMA Nation if he had an interest in MMA, Burroughs responded, "Yeah, definitely, I definitely want to fight after I'm done wrestling. I want to wrestle ‘til 2017. John Smith from Oklahoma State was the greatest American wrestler of all time. He was a four-time world champ and two-time Olympic champ so for me, in order to catch him or surpass him, I'll have to wrestle every Olympics and every world championship from now to 2017 and that's the goal to win all of those and once I'm done with that, to try and get into MMA."
A year later, after winning the gold medal at the London Olympics, Burroughs said, "I'm only 24, and I've got a lot of wrestling left in me. I want to be the best ever. Cael Sanderson won (in 2004), and he was done. Henry Cejudo won (in 2008), and he was done. I have plans to wrestle for a number of years. I want to be the face of wrestling. It's a great sport and I love competing in it."
It’s easy to understand how the MMA community might be disappointed with Burroughs’ Saturday night Tweet, drooling over the prospect of one of the world’s great amateur wrestlers becoming a fighter. As Hunter Homistek wrote in his Nov. 3 column for MMA website BleacherReport.com in response to Burroughs’ Twitter message, “The 2008 class of Olympic wrestlers-turned-MMA fighters—Steve Mocco, Daniel Cormier, Henry Cejudo and Ben Askren—is 34-0 in professional action, and there is little doubt that a young, explosive wrestler like Burroughs could find similar success inside the cage.”
Then again, not every amateur wrestling stud is guaranteed a perfect record in MMA. At least two NCAA Division I wrestling champs – Mark Ellis, and Bubba Jenkins – both met crushing, stunning defeat in the cage. Ellis, a 2009 NCAA heavyweight champ for Missouri who is now an assistant coach at University of Tennessee-Chattanooga, has not competed in a professional MMA event since his upset loss in his second bout almost exactly two years ago in 2011. Jenkins, 2011 NCAA 157-pound champ for Arizona State who pinned former Penn State teammate David Taylor in the finals, had made quick work of his first four MMA opponents until being TKO’d by an unheralded opponent in a September 2013 fight.
As disappointed as the MMA world may be with Burroughs’ decision, not all journalists and fans are upset.
“While his world-class wrestling base would undoubtedly serve him well inside the cage, I personally respect this decision,” wrote BleacherReports.com’s Hunter Homistek. “It takes a certain kind of person to recognize the dangers of MMA and to cast aside a career despite the potential for great success. Burroughs realizes that the sport is not for him, and he made a wise and informed decision to not pursue a career as a mixed martial artist.”
Meanwhile, it looks like the wrestling world will be seeing a lot more of Jordan Burroughs in action on the mat, not the Octagon, which is a good thing… except for wrestlers in his weight class.
Burroughs explains himself: In a Nov. 5 posting at his blog, Jordan Burroughs writes "Why I choose wrestling over MMA."
Want to know more? Check out articles on Jordan Burroughs' announcement from FoxSports.com, BleacherReport.com, and BloodyElbow.com. And, for instant access to all College Wrestling Examiner articles on Jordan Burroughs and his college and freestyle careers, click here.
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