The Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho, New Mexico witnessed the hostile takeover of mixed martial arts by wrestlers. The five division one all-Americans, two of whom are NCAA champions, displayed an overwhelming case as to why wrestling is the strongest foundation for MMA. The fights occurred Wednesday, July 31, 2013, on a night where Bellator and USA Wrestling teamed up bringing awareness to the Saving Olympic Wrestling campaign.
College wrestling teammates out of Missouri University, Michael Chandler and Ben Askren both defended their Bellator titles in dominate fashion. Former Oklahoma State all-American Muhammed Lawal (King Mo) won the Bellator light-heavyweight tournament finals. In addition, top prospects Bubba Jenkins and Shawn Bunch improve their professional records to 4-0 and 2-0.
Bellator lightweight champion Chandler executed his opponent Davis Rickels in a mere 44 seconds to remain at top of the 155-pound weight class. The Missouri Tiger was a NCAA All-American and two time Big 12 conference finalist. Chandler socked Rickels with a right cross crippling him to his knees, and then flew in with an onslaught of punches to the stunned “Caveman”, leaving him lights out.
Chandler improves his unblemished record to 12-0 in mixed martial arts. David Rickels fell to a 14-2 overall MMA record.
Welterweight champion Ben “Funky” Askren embarrassed his young 22 year old foe Andrey Koreshkov with his superior grappling. The four-time NCAA national finalist and two-time NCAA national champion at Missouri stuck to his word. He walked across the cage, took down the Russian and beat his face in until the fight was called by the referee and there was nothing his opponent could do about it.
The USA 2008 Olympic wrestler improved the class of ’08’s MMA record to 30-0. Askren used wrestling moves such as leg riding, cradles, power half’s and his Wisconsin grip to create the illusion that he was battling a child inside the cage. His control was so effortless that during the second round while on Koreshkov’s back with legs in, he started to chant “USA! USA!” while fist pumping.
The grind of “Funky” Askren broke his opponent after nearly three and a half rounds of punishment. Askren was recorded to have outstruck Koreshkov 248-3. The referee put an end to the annulation in the fourth round at 2:58. The Season 7 tournament winner Koreshkov drops to 13-1 ending his undefeated run. Askren improves his dominate reign as Bellator welterweight champion with a winning streak of 12-0.
King Mo (Muhammed Lawal) earned a TKO over his opponent Jacob Noe. The former Oklahoma State Cowboy used his wrestling skills as well to drag Noe to the canvas where he punished him. Lawal defeated Noe in the third round at 2:58, winning the light-heavyweight tournament finals.
The self-proclaimed King blasted through Noe with a double-leg takedown. Once on top of his enemy he rained fists down on Noe, who had no answer for it, leaving the referee Jeff Herzog to end the bout. King Mo Lawal is now 11-2 in MMA, and his opponent Noe skipped to a 12-3 record.
The 2011 NCAA Division 1 champion Bubba Jenkins shot out of the gates like a horse in the Kentucky Derby. The Arizona State wrestling champ came across the cage took down Berarras, who latched onto a Guillotine choke and then was repeatedly slammed by Jenkins. The fight leaked into the second round where Jenkins finished off Berarras at 1:05 in round two via a TKO.
Jenkins has been a human highlight reel throughout his college wrestling career and is now 4-0 in the MMA world. Fans love the excitement he brings to the competitions and it’s something that has earned him so much publicity. Expect to see Jenkins rise up the ladder quickly in Bellator and the MMA world. He is a prospect that fighters should be concerned about being matched up against.
Another NCAA D-1 All-American Shawn “Bunch the great” Bunch fought in only his second MMA bout winning by split decision over Russell Wilson. Not the Seattle Seahawks quarterback. Bunch is a former Edinboro University wrestler who was a NCAA D-1 runner-up. Bunch missed the 2012 Olympic London Games for the USA freestyle team by a mere point. Bunch is a young MMA fighter with loads of potential behind him, as he may be the fastest cat in MMA. In his last interview he shared some of his favorite training gear including his best shin guards.
Bunch improves his new career to a 2-0 record and Russell Wilson drops to 1-3 in his career. The split-decision came after three rounds of action. Keep an eye out for Bunch as he continues to learn and improve in MMA.
For the full results of last night’s Bellator 97 fights, visit Bellator.com and follow USCS reporter Kyle Carroll for avid MMA and amateur wrestling updates on Twitter @jiblitz77.