The Bear has been tamed.
Steve Mocco, 2008 Olympic freestyle wrestler and two-time NCAA heavyweight champ, suffered the first loss of his professional mixed martial arts career at World Series of Fighting Canada – Ford vs. Powell at Edmonton Expo Center in Edmonton, Canada Friday night.
Mocco lost a three-round heavyweight bout with Smealinho Rama by unanimous decision, 29-27, 30-27, 29-28.
In its live play-by-play coverage of the event, TopMMANews.com had Mocco winning the first two rounds, but then appeared to run out of gas in the third, writing, “Mocco throws some lazy spinning kick, he’s tired, Rama not so much. Rama hurts Mocco with a solid shot and backs him up. A combo drops Mocco and Rama works for the finish. Multiple solid shots land. Mocco digs deep and reverses position. They stand, Mocco is tired. Hooks and overhands land on the exhausted Mocco. Mocco in trouble as Rama pours it on. Rama landing at will as Mocco needs an oxygen tank…” then concluding “Mocco’s gas tank cost him that fight.”
Mike Riordan served up this analysis for BloodyElbow.com: “It sounds as if Mocco really won the first two rounds of the fight, gassed in the third and received a bit of raw deal from the judges. This comes as a surprise as Mocco, though not the world's trimmest athlete, always demonstrated excellent endurance throughout his combat sports career.”
Riordan, who also writes for the amateur wrestling website InterMat, continued, “Mocco can certainly right the ship after this defeat, string together some WSOF wins and make it to the UFC, however, bad deicision or not, Friday's loss likely lowers his estimated ceiling in the MMA world. MMA has clearly changed, and while wrestling skills will rank as the most important a fighter can possess for the foreseeable future, the era of ultra-decorated wrestlers entering the sport around the age of 30 and then dominating may now be over, Daniel Cormier notwithstanding.”
With the loss, Mocco is now 4-1 in his MMA career which started in November 2012.
Nicknamed “The Bear” for his hard-charging style, heavy hands and body-build, Mocco, 32, was a four-time NCAA All-American and two-time heavyweight champ, winning the 2003 NCAA title for University of Iowa, then, after transferring to Oklahoma State, grabbing his second crown as a Cowboy at the 2005 NCAAs. In addition, Mocco wrestled freestyle for the U.S. at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. After he failed to earn a place on the 2012 U.S. Olympic freestyle team, Mocco announced his retirement from wrestling, and entered MMA.
With Mocco’s loss, former U.S. Olympic wrestlers-turned-MMA-fighters had a 1-2 weekend. At UFC 170 in Las Vegas Saturday night, Daniel Cormier, member of the men’s freestyle team for the 2004 and 2008 Olympics, made short work of former Penn State heavyweight Patrick Cummins… while Sara McMann, 2004 Olympic silver medalist, suffered a TKO loss to UFC women’s bantamweight champ Ronda Rousey.
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