Everyone from Dana White to Brock Lesnar have been talking about the future of MMA being a wrestling base. Not many can argue that it is a very important stratagem to study if you want to rise to the upper echelon of the MMA ranks. Today I'm going to cover a few great athletes, that you probably never heard of, that I see making a huge impact on the MMA scene in the near future.
Lance Palmer (Ohio State Buckeyes)
Lance in a Nutshell: Palmer defeated one of the greatest wrestlers (Brent Metcalf, Iowa) in college history in the Big Ten finals before falling to him in the finals en route to claiming his fourth All-American finish. He is a brawler style wrestler who has excelled since high school wrestling to the point where few have.
The aggressive style Palmer enters training with is a huge advantage over guys like Ben Askren who have a more technical background. Palmer will be able to take abuse on his feet while he improves his striking, and should be a complete terror on top after he gets his takedown.
Suggestions for Palmer: Get in the gym with an excellent striker and make that your focal point for as long as necessary. Almost all wrestlers enter MMA with very average striking skills, so the more time you can spend here the better.
Bubba Jenkins (Arizona State Sun Devils)
Bubba in a Nutshell: Bubba is a Jr. World Champion freestyle wrestler and a multi-time All-American. He attended Penn State University for the first three years of his collegiate career before getting sent packing by the new coach, former Olympic champion Cael Sanderson. Because Jenkins is certain he will be jumping right into MMA after college, he opted to move across the nation to the "amateur wrestler turned MMA stand out" hotbed. The ever growing list of UFC fighters coming out of ASU include CB Dollaway, Ryan Bader, and Cain Velasquez, and also includes assistant coach Ben Askren.
Suggestions for Jenkins: While I think Jenkins' striking will be better than Palmer's, I think his pain tolerance and mental game need a bit of work. Jenkins should focus on building his mental toughness and his ability to handle punches.
Eric Larkin (Arizona State Sun Devils)
Eric in a Nutshell: Larkin was a four time All-American at ASU going 4-3-2 en route to a NCAA Championship and winning The Hodge (wrestling's version of the Heisman.) Eric is a monster on his feet and has one of the best gas tanks in the nation. He will have no problem going hard an entire fight. His striking needs some work, but his conditioning and superior wrestling skills should keep him safe as he masters striking and standing defense. He is a very technically sound wrestler and a beast on top.
Suggestions for Eric: I could see BJJ and other submission techniques as the go-to moves for Larkin. A strong rider in college, Larkin will be a natural for submission techniques and his excellent conditioning will keep him in every fight until the very end.