Ben Askren knows a thing or two about making the move from amateur wrestling to MMA.
Askren, a former standout at the collegiate level and ex-Bellator welterweight champion, recently made a list of five senior wrestlers he feel could make an easy transition into the world of MMA.
The NCAA Championships took place recently, and a number of those Askren mentioned won titles in Oklahoma City.
“I don’t know that any of these people are going to MMA, but it is my perspective on who can be really successful,” Askren wrote on the AWA Wisconsin site. “I love the fact that MMA has given wrestlers another avenue to continue using skills they have honed their whole life and make a very good living doing so.”
Askren also works with AGON, a promotion that features wrestling matches and has put on a handful of events already. As for his own career, he is scheduled to compete for ONE FC later this year.
Here’s Askren’s Top-5 college seniors who could make a move to MMA. He also mentioned Tyler Caldwell and Andrew Howe as “Honorable Mentions.”
Tony Ramos – This is the one guy on the list who has made it evidently clear that he is headed for MMA. His club coach Izzy Martinez is the head wrestling coach of at Jacksons MMA. I would say Tony’s best assets would be his Aggressiveness and Gas Tank. He was more defensive in college, I think he will need to quickly learn how to transition his striking into takedowns to make his transition smooth. I see him dominating easier competition before struggling a bit, at which point he will figure the striking into takedowns. I think he will be top 10 at 125 within 3 years.
Nick Heflin – He wouldn’t be the first great 205er from tOSU, Coleman and Randleman were pioneers in this field! Right now wrestlers control the top 3 spots at this weight, with Heflin’s athleticism and power it wont take much for him to transition in well into MMA. Hopefully a good camp like AKA snatches him up and turns him into a beast.
Chris Perry – Obviously he comes from one of the greatest wrestling families of all time, which would lead me to believe he will be getting a lot of pressure to continue to wrestle. However, Oklahoma St has had quite the MMA pipeline going with Hendricks and Cormier among others. Chris’ riding ability especially with the legs tells me he will translate to a really good BJJ guy really fast. His stand up will be alright, but if he remembers he is a wrestler first and foremost he will take people down, keep them down and dominate them.
Joe Colon – I don’t know about his future, but this guy impressed me a ton this season. If it wasn’t for a bad decision to scramble when unnecessary, I think he would have won an NCAA title this season. I think Joe is both lanky and powerful, which will make his transition to striking a little bit easier. I think a camp with a lot of people his size like Roufusport would be a great fit.
Ed Ruth – Now my initial assumption is that he will probably wrestle, but this guy could make millions fighting MMA within years. The more I watched him the more I was impressed with him, despite his laziness at times he was still very dominant this season. 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. The only thing that can stop Ed would be him getting complacent at the wrong time.