Phil Davis, Chad Mendes and the 10 Most Credentialed College Wrestlers in UFC
As has been well documented, wrestling has proven to be one of the best bases for success in MMA. Currently, four of the seven UFC champions have extensive backgrounds in wrestling, while a fifth champion—Georges St-Pierre—has transformed into one of the best wrestlers in the sport.
As amateur wrestlers have continued to find success in transitioning to MMA and fighters have begun to earn more money, high-level collegiate wrestlers have begun to take notice and decided to try to follow in the footsteps of fighters like Randy Couture.
Currently, here are the top 10 most decorated collegiate wrestlers competing in the UFC.
10. Gray Maynard
In high school, Gray Maynard posted an outstanding record of 135-16 during his four years of varsity wrestling. In his senior year, Maynard was named the high school national champion and was a captain of his team, which ended the year ranked as the top-ranked high school wrestling team in the country.
After his decorated high school career came to an end, Maynard moved on to Michigan State University, where he was a teammate and roommate of Rashad Evans. Maynard earned All-American honors three times in college, placing seventh twice and eighth once in the NCAA tournament.
Maynard later attempted to make his way onto the 2004 United State Olympic wrestling team, but was not selected. Then, Maynard was invited to become a sparring partner for B.J. Penn, which led to "The Bully's" interest in MMA.
9. Cain Velasquez
A two-time state champion while attending high school in Arizona, Cain Velasquez posted a record of 110-10. Velasquez was also a standout player on his high school's football team.
After graduating high school, Velasquez wrestled for one year at Iowa Central Community College (ICCC). In his one season with the wrestling team, Velasquez became NJCAA National Champion.
After earning an associates degree at ICCC, Velasquez transferred to Arizona State University. In three seasons as a Sun Devil, Velasquez was a two-time All-American. In his final two years of college, Velasquez earned fourth and fifth place in the NCAA tournament.
8. Jacob Volkmann
After setting the school record for career wins at his Minnesota high school, Jacob Volkmann moved onto the University of Minnesota to continue his wrestling career.
While in college, Volkmann achieved massive success. In addition to being a three-time All-American, Volkmann picked up a Big Ten championship and was listed on the All-Big Ten Team four times. In the NCAA tournament, Volkmann finished fourth on two occasions and third in his junior year.
After graduating from the University of Minnesota, Volkmann finished second at the United States Greco Roman Senior Nationals.
Now, in addition to competing in the UFC, Volkmann is an assistant head coach for a high school wrestling team in Minnesota.
7. Shane Roller
A three-sport star at an Oklahoma high school, Shane Roller's greatest achievements came on the mat. During four years as a varsity wrestler, Roller became his school's first-ever four-time state champion and was twice named the Most Outstanding Wrestler at the Oklahoma state tournament. Roller's 141-3 record also helped his earn the Junior Hodge Award for being the most dominant high school wrestler in the country.
After high school, Roller accepted a scholarship to wrestle at Oklahoma State University. In college, Roller was a three-time All-American and captain of Oklahoma State University's NCAA Championship team in 2003. Roller finished third in the NCAA tournament twice and also picked up a fourth-place finish.
After graduation from Oklahoma State University, Roller became an assistant head coach for the wrestling team before focusing on a career in MMA upon being signed by the WEC.
6. Chad Mendes
After a wildly successful high school career, Chad Mendes remained in California to attend Cal Poly State University.
While in college, Mendes was a two-time All-American wrestler. In 2008, his senior year, Mendes went undefeated for the entire regular season and was considered the best 141-pound wrestler in the nation. However, Mendes finished second in the NCCA tournament after suffering his first loss of the year in the finals.
After college, Mendes made an immediate transition into MMA by joining Urijah Faber and the rest of Team Alpha Male.
5. Brock Lesnar
Brock Lesnar finished his high school wrestling career with an undefeated record of 33-0 in his senior year. After graduating, Lesnar attended Bismark State College, where he found continued success in wrestling.
In his two years a Bismark State College, Lesnar was a two-time NJCAA All-American and captured an NJCAA National Championship. Lesnar's accomplishments in his first two years of college earned the mammoth heavyweight a full scholarship to the University of Minnesota.
At the University of Minnesota, Lesnar picked up right where he left off, as he finished in second place in the NCAA tournament in his first year with the school. The next year, Lesnar dominated his competition en route to becoming an NCAA champion.
After compiling a 106-5 record in college, Lesnar signed with the World Wrestling Federation. The rest is history.
4. Mark Munoz
As a high school student in California, Mark Munoz captured two state titles and competed on the USA Junior National Wrestling Team. After being heavily recruited, Munoz chose to attend Oklahoma State University.
At Oklahoma State University, Munoz was a two-time All-American. In his senior season, Munoz earned the 197-pound NCAA Championship.
Munoz's background in wrestling is so strong that he has become one of the top training partners for MMA fighters looking to improve their wrestling.
3. Phil Davis
In high school, Phil Davis went 112-17 and placed at the Pennsylvania state tournament three times. After graduating, Davis remained in Pennsylvania, where he attended Penn State University.
In college, Davis was a four-time All-American. After finishing seventh, second and fifth in his first three seasons at Penn State University, Davis captured an NCAA title in his senior year.
After graduating, Davis began training for a MMA career. Already, Davis has become a contender in the UFC's light heavyweight division and is considered one of the brightest young stars in the sport.
2. Josh Koscheck
After placing second in the Pennsylvania state tournament in his senior year of high school, Josh Koscheck decided to attend Edinboro University in his home state.
In college, Koscheck became a four-time All-American and earned an NCAA championship. In his four years in the NCAA tournament, Koscheck finished in fourth, third, second and first.
After graduating, Koscheck had a brief stint as assistant head coach for the University of Buffalo wrestling team before beginning his career in MMA.
1. Johny Hendricks
Three state titles in high school led Johny Hendricks to Oklahoma State University for his college career.
While at Oklahoma State University, Hendricks was a four-time All-American and won two NCAA titles. Hendricks is the only UFC fighter to have captured more than one championship in NCAA Division I wrestling.
At 27 years old, Hendricks' only loss in MMA came in a narrow decision to Rick Story. With his strong wrestling background, Hendricks still has the potential to achieve great things in MMA.