Follow Knuckle Junkies

Chris Oth | Knuckle Junkies graphic

On The Mat: Wrestling Dominance

By Jerry Chavez | Chavez Photography

This month I would like to discuss how collegiate wrestlers are in a position of dominance in professional MMA and some of the reasons why this is happening.

Taking a quick look at the current UFC champions, it is easy to see the influence of wrestling on the current belt holders. Heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez was an NJCAA wrestling champion and an NCAA wrestling All American. Light heavyweight champion Jon Jones was an NJCAA wrestling champion. Middleweight champion Chris Weidman was an NJCAA wrestling champion and NCAA wrestling runner up. Welterweight champion Georges St Pierre may be the best wrestler in all of MMA and current #2 Johnny Hendricks was a 2 time NCAA wrestling champion. Lightweight champion Benson Henderson was an NAIA wrestling All American. Featherweight #2 Chad Mendes was an NCAA wrestling runner up and Bantanweight #2 Urijah Faber has an extensive NCAA wrestling program. Combine that with current Bellator champions and Mizzou alumni Michael Chandler and Ben Askren and the success of high level wrestlers in MMA is everywhere.

There are several reasons why this is happening and has a strong chance of continuing. Wrestling is an organized sport at both the high school and collegiate levels. This gives young men and women the opportunity to learn the skills necessary for success at an early age in an environment that is supported financially by the schools they attend. High school seasons are typically 4 months while collegiate seasons are usually a month longer. During these seasons wrestlers make weight usually once a week, and occasionally two or three times in a week. The weigh ins are only one or two hours before competition, which is dramatically different from the day before weigh ins that are commonplace in MMA. The weekly weight maintenance and short term recovery time forces wrestlers to lose and maintain weight the correct way, not just waiting until the last minute to lose water weight and then try to recover in 24 hours. The discipline required for this type of weight maintenance and consistent working out and dieting is a key component to success in MMA as well.

Lastly, the weekly regimen and training schedule of wrestling, especially on the collegiate wrestling, is intense and rigorous. Everyday wrestlers train HARD, usually at least twice a day, combining live sparring, technique, weightlifting, cardio training and dieting to optimize their performances and capabilities. This type of training creates a mental toughness that is difficult to duplicate in any other sport. Anyone who has every wrestled knows what it is like to walk into the wrestling room knowing that two hours and usually eight pounds later you are going to walk out physically, emotionally and mentally exhausted as well as being beat up and sore. The ability to push through and even embrace this mindset is rare and something will help anyone succeed in almost any walk of life. Wrestlers are known as grinders, because our sport does not offer ways to finish the fight like jiu jitsu and striking do but more importantly because a wrestler's mentality is to never look for the easy way out. Olympic Champion Dan Gable said "Once you've wrestled, everything else in life is easy".

Finally, I am proud to announce that I am helping the Adam Muffler Memorial Organization (A.M.M.O.) in their fight against post traumatic stress disorder (P.T.S.D.). Today, 22 veterans are committing suicide every day. Adam Muffler was a returning veteran student at SLU. He was only 24 years old, with two combat tours served when he decide that "everything was unfixable", and that he "couldn't un-see what he'd seen", and took his own life. With our veterans returning home, we can anticipate a surplus of soldiers in our academic campuses. With a collaboration of the academic institutions, together with the private and public sectors, this 22 a day count can change. A.M.M.O. will be running a MMA fight on October 26th 2013 at the 11,000 seat Chaifetz Arena as a fundraiser for PTSD awareness and rehabilitation programs. This will be the largest MMA charity fight held in St Louis.

Please take a minute to like their page on Facebook and please send them a message if you are willing to help or contribute.

TICKETS ARE NOW ON SALE FOR THE EVENT AT !!! And for a limited time only you can receive a $5 discount off by entering the code "knucklejunkies" on the website when buying tickets.

PLEASE look into your hearts and come out to support our veterans and be a part of history at this incredible night of patriotism and fighting. Fight announcements will be coming soon and the card is going to be incredible!!

As usual, thank you for taking the time to read this column. Good luck and God Bless.