At UFC 10: The Tournament, Mark Coleman made a statement inside the Octagon, and that statement was wrestlers have their place in Mixed Martial Arts. Now, Dan Severn and Don Frye had both been successful before Coleman, but he was the first to really incorporate strikes into his wrestling.
Fast forward to Ultimate Fighter Season one, we see Josh Koscheck as a purebred wrestler; look at him today and he's knocking out tough competition in Yoshiuki Yoshida. Wrestlers are a growing commodity in MMA, and some of the most successful today can call themselves Sun Devils.
There are four former Arizona State wrestlers that are making a home in the UFC: Ryan Bader, CB Dollaway, Cain Velásquez, and Aaron Simpson.
Despite their strong wrestling pedigree, all have developed strong stand-up skills. Of the fighters listed, the only name that is still affiliated with ASU is Aaron Simpson.
Simpson is currently serving his ninth year as an assistant coach at ASU who, as it turns out, coached Ryan Bader, CB Dollaway, and Cain Velásquez to All-American titles for all.
Simpson's career as a professional Mixed Martial Artist is short, with his first bout taking place October 2007. Since that time, he has amassed a 5-0 record at Middleweight, all ending via KO or TKO. Fighting out of Arizona Combat Sports, Simpson has just won his first UFC bout with a first round TKO over Tim McKenzie.
Up next is Cain Velásquez. Along with Shane Carwin, Velásquez is the most talked about heavyweight prospect the UFC has acquired. Velásquez is currently training out of American Kickboxing Academy with the likes of Josh Koscheck, Jon Fitch, Cung Le, and Josh Thompson.
Like Simpson, Velásquez is sporting an undefeated 5-0 record with all victories coming by way of first or second round TKO in the Heavyweight Division. His next fight is scheduled against Heath Herring at UFC 99.
Recent winner of Ultimate Fighter Season Eight, and big prospect in the Light Heavyweight Division is Ryan “Darth” Bader. Like his former coach, Bader is fighting out of Arizona Combat Sports and brings, like a broken record, an undefeated 9-0. His most recent bout was a “coming out” Unanimous Decision against Carmelo Marrero.
A product of, and favorite to win, Ultimate Fighter Season Seven is CB “The Doberman” Dollaway. As a Middleweight, he is sporting an 8-1 record, his only loss coming by way of a submission from Amir Sadollah (who has been absent since this victory).
Most of his victories have come by way of either TKO, with a couple submissions and only going to decision once. His next scheduled bout is against TUF Eight alum Tom Lawlor, who is dropping to Middleweight. CB also trains out of Arizona Combat Sports.
As you can see, these wrestlers-turned-mixed martial artists have found some great success in their careers, sporting a collective fight record of 27-1. What future MMA stars will ASU turn out? The public will just have to wait and see.
*Also, Don Frye is also and ASU alumni.