When it comes to what college wrestlers might have a bright future in mixed martial arts, the phrase “it takes one to know one” certainly applies to Ben Askren.
The two-time NCAA champ for the University of Missouri now competing in MMA weighed in with five college seniors he thinks would be great MMA fighters, in an article posted Monday at his Askren Wrestling Academy website.
All five of Askren’s picks – along with two “honorable mention” wrestlers -- earned All-American honors (placing in the top eight in their weight class) at the 2014 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships in Oklahoma City March 20-22. Three won titles: Iowa’s Tony Ramos (133-pound champ), two-time 174-pound titlewinner Chris Perry of Oklahoma State, and three-time champ Ed Ruth of Penn State, crowned champ at 184 just less than two weeks ago.
For instance, Askren said of Ruth: “This guy could make millions fighting MMA within years… This dude has all the tools necessary, his body control is unmatched and grip is ridiculous. He would be nasty in BJJ immediately and with his range and agility would pick up the striking quickly also…”
Askren – who is also involved in the Agon Wrestling Championships venture that provides post-collegiate wrestlers an opportunity to make money in a hybrid form of wrestling -- was upfront in saying, “I don’t know that any of these people are going to MMA, but it is my perspective on who can be really successful.”
The former Mizzou Tiger mat champ is of the opinion that top collegiate wrestlers have the experience to find success in a new arena, writing, “Now it has becomes increasingly obvious that American Folkstyle wrestling [the style used in college] is by far the best background to have for an MMA fighter. MMA rankings give fighters with American Folkstyle wrestling as their main background 35 of 80 spots in the top 10 across the main 8 weight classes and 5 of the 8 top spots.”
It’ll be interesting to see if any of the 2014 NCAA All-Americans included in Askren’s list consider a career in the ring or Octagon… and, if so, whether he can pick winners.
Take a look back: For all College Wrestling Examiner articles on the 2014 NCAAs, click here... and check out Mat Bracketology, College Wrestling Examiner's weight-by-weight analysis of seeded wrestlers, by clicking on the Mat Bracketology link.
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