Popularity of MMA is benefiting amatuer wrestling, as well
Here is an article from the Washington Post on MMA and amatuer wrestling.
A New Grip on Talent
Popularity of Mixed Martial Arts Is Benefiting Wrestling, as Well
By Ryan Mink
Special to The Washington Post
Friday, March 7, 2008; E01
Midway through this wrestling season, Bowie High School sophomore Brandon Tipton won his first match of the year and the second of his career.
After slaps on the back from his teammates and coaches, Tipton took a seat behind his team's bench and soaked in the moment. He said he felt invincible.
As he reflected, Tipton also thought there had to be an easier way to pin his opponents. He already had a black belt in tang su do, the Korean form of karate, and was taking Brazilian jujitsu submission and Thai kickboxing classes, all disciplines that he thought could help on the wrestling mat. It was then that the idea of using the bravo choke, a move designed to make his opponents pass out, entered Tipton's repertoire.
"I wanted to find a way I could show my jujitsu skill at the same time as my wrestling skills," Tipton said.
Tipton's thought process mirrors those of a growing number of high school and college wrestlers who have found new methods -- and perhaps a future competitive outlet -- by taking an interest in mixed martial arts and the sport's leading organization, the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
At the same time, the two sports appear to be enjoying a symbiotic relationship: Mixed martial arts has breathed new life into amateur wrestling, which has been threatened at the college level for more than a decade by financial cuts. And wrestling is providing a deepening talent pool for professional mixed martial arts organizations such as the increasingly popular UFC.
As collegiate and high school wrestlers descend upon College Park for the ACC and Maryland state championships this weekend, the sports have never been more intertwined.
"Wrestling is the perfect breeding ground for MMA fighters," said Jay Larkin, president of the International Fight League, a mixed martial arts organization that formed a promotional partnership with USA Wrestling in April 2007. "It requires a lot of training to be a well-rounded MMA fighter, but there's probably no better starting point than wrestling."
Ask a high school or college wrestler to identify their favorite UFC fighter, and three names often emerge: Randy Couture, Dan Henderson and Matt Lindland.
All three wrestled at the college and Olympic levels. Now, Couture is viewed as arguably the best mixed martial artist of all time, Henderson is a middleweight championship contender, and Lindland is a well-respected MMA veteran and instructor.
"To me, I look at it just like wrestling," said Lindland, who won a silver medal in Greco-Roman wrestling at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. "There's a fight and there's rules. Wrestling is just more strict rules."
Lindland runs Team Quest, an Oregon-based training center that offers instruction for children as well as professionals. He is in regular contact with Larkin, looking to place his fighters on the national stage. Last year, Lindland requested floor passes to the NCAA championships so he could recruit more wrestlers for his training program.
There are several reasons why wrestlers make good mixed martial artists. Mostly, wrestling provides a solid foundation from which to add other disciplines, such as jujitsu, judo, boxing and Thai kickboxing, also known as Muay Thai.
Much of an MMA fight takes place on the mat, where opponents pound each other or try to make each other submit using jujitsu training. To get an opponent to the mat, an MMA fighter needs to have takedown skills similar to those used in wrestling.
Two members of the team that represented USA Wrestling in the first World Grappling Championships last September in Turkey also had high-level MMA backgrounds.
"We like to think that if there's an athlete participating in MMA, there's opportunities to pursue wrestling as well," said Rich Bender, executive director of USA Wrestling. "I think it's another opportunity for us to expose wrestling to another constituent group.
"There are wrestlers entering the MMA world, and it's not our goal to train MMA fighters, but certainly as a byproduct to becoming an Olympian, some of those skills can be used in the MMA world."
Participation in wrestling in U.S. high schools has increased 11 of the past 14 years, going from 222,025 in 1993 -- the year UFC made its debut -- to 257,246 last season. Although Bob Colgate, assistant director of the National Federation of State High School Associations, said he cannot conclude the rise in participation correlates to the rise of MMA, Bowie's wrestling coach, Pete Ward, has no doubt.
"I think a lot of kids typically didn't want to wrestle because they see kids rolling around in tights and stuff," Ward said. "A lot of kids watch the UFC and think it's a physical, tough-guy sport. Now they realize wrestling is probably the closest thing to mixed martial arts they can find in school."
When Ward asked 13 wrestlers at a practice last week how many follow the UFC, 11 raised their hands. Three students have plans on competing in mixed martial arts during or after high school, and two Bowie students not on the wrestling team have asked Ward if he teaches mixed martial arts in the wrestling room.
Ward trains in MMA, but submission grappling and jujitsu aren't part of the practice regimen he uses for his team at Bowie. There is an MMA presence at the Bulldogs' workouts, however. Twice a week Ward invites fitness instructors D'Angelo Kinard and Daniel Silva, both of whom compete in MMA and teach classes at Bowie's World Gym, to lead his team through exercises.
Ward, arms crossed in a small wrestling room his team shares with the dance team, listens to Kinard's drill sergeant-like yells and nods his head.
"This gives our guys an edge over their opponent," Ward said, watching the brutal MMA-style workout. "It's all a different form of wrestling. It's all hand-to-hand combat."
Wrestlers often stay after practice to pick up a few MMA moves from Ward. Occasionally senior Eric Bulger, the team's lone Maryland 4A/3A South Region champion, shares wrestling information with Tipton while getting MMA tips in return.
"I basically love the brutality and the thrill of overpowering somebody," Bulger said.
'I've Found a Way to Get Paid'
Before the rise of MMA, collegiate wrestlers such as American University junior Andrew Silber would often see their competitive athletic careers end at graduation. Now, with multiple federations such as the UFC and IFL offering well-paying, televised bouts, they have established professional options outside the theatrical Worldwide Wrestling Entertainment.
When he was 13, Silber worked at his father's wallpaper manufacturing factory in Clark, N.J., manually moving heavy equipment or filing paperwork. His second job was as a ride operator at Bowcraft Playland in Scotch Plains, N.J., and his third job was landscaping.
Now all Silber wants to do is fight. He says he is primarily at American so he can wrestle, and he devotes much of his free time to thinking or reading about MMA.
"I would never sit in an office for the rest of my life," Silber said. "All I want to do is compete for the rest of my life and be in shape. It used to be that you just go to work to make money, but now people want to find what really makes them tick. [In MMA], I've found a way to get paid doing something I'd do for free."
Silber's coach at American, Mark Cody, encourages his wrestlers to take part in MMA. One of his best, senior and defending NCAA 197-pound champion Josh Glenn, estimates that 50 people -- including Lindland -- have approached him in the past year to gauge his interest in a professional MMA career.
"The common question a few years ago was, 'Are you going to wrestle internationally after college?' " said Glenn, who plans to decline any MMA opportunities in favor of a career in coaching or the military. "Now you have the same question immediately followed by, 'Are you going to fight after college?' That kind of shows how society has changed and picked up MMA as a more common interest. It's just something wrestlers do. It's an extension of your career."
Silber has wrestled since he was 7 years old and took his first MMA class in summer 2006. He ultimately would like to draw the eye of Lindland, whom Cody coached at the University of Nebraska and in preparation for the 2000 Olympics.
"It's a way for college guys to go out and make money," Cody said. "Unless you're an Olympic champion or a world medalist, it's hard to make money off of wrestling. A lot of people say there's a better way to make a living without getting your head bashed in, but a lot of these guys are really educated. They just like to compete."
Dude I posted this last week. I agree, good article.
Damn, and I happened to not be there the day that guy showed up. Me, along with Bill and a few other freestyle and BJJ guys are what started to transform the club from a wrestling club to a grappling and mma club.
That was an excellent article.
I really do regret not jumping into wrestling in high school, it would have made the positional dominance game so much more intense and well-played later on [now].
I'm glad it's getting more popular - I've really come to enjoy watching college matches, just recently Frankie Edgar's.
I originally started wrestling because I heard Joe Rogan exalting Josh Koscheck's "amazing wrestling."
I was like, "hey, I should try that **** out." That's how I started.
This screams lulz.
Originally Posted by TroyForum
"I suck at wrestling, so I'll use a front headlock to pin someone and call it a brabo choke."
I was watching ESPN's Sport Center, this morning, and they ended their broadcast with some clips from the 2008 Wrestling Championships. I have never seen amateur wrestling on ESPN, before.
Originally Posted by Beezer
They don't even show the Olympic wrestling finals anymore.
BTW, where in Michigan are you and where do you train?
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