Former Sun Devil Wrestlers Try Their Hands at Mixed Martial Arts
Aug. 31, 2007
TEMPE, Ariz. - Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) has taken off lately around the world with several organizations promoting competitions around the globe, including this weekend in Las Vegas, Nev., where a pair of former Arizona State University All-American wrestlers will compete. Ryan Bader (205 pounds) and C.B. Dollaway (185 pounds) both will be in action this weekend at the Riviera Hotel and Casino as they compete in the IFO's Fireworks in the Cage II.
Training and competing out of Arizona Combat Sports in Tempe, the two former Sun Devils are combining their skills as accomplished wrestlers with the new disciplines of Jiu Jitsu, kickboxing and submission wrestling, to name a few. Bader was a two-time All-American and three-time Pac-10 Conference champion at 197 pounds while Dollaway was an All-American in his senior season at 184 pounds. A pair of Bader and Dollaway's former teammates, Kellan Fluckiger (All-American and two-time Pac-10 Champion) and Cain Velasquez (two-time All-American and two-time Pac-10 Champion), also have joined the ranks of the MMA in the heavyweight division.
While both Bader and Dollaway might be new to the sport (both enter the weekend with undefeated 3-0 records), former Sun Devils are no strangers to the cage, ring and/or octagon. Though it is unclear the number of former Sun Devils that have competed in MMA or train others for competitions, there are several notable names:
Dan `The Beast' Severn, one of the more recognized names in the UFC and an inductee into its Hall of Fame, was a three-time conference (one WAC and two Pac-10) champion and a two-time All-American for the Sun Devils in the late 1970's and early 1980's. Severn is the only fighter to win the UFC Triple Crown and started competing in MMA events in 1994.
`Dangerous' Dan Henderson wrestled for the Sun Devils during the 1992-93 season after competing for Team USA at the 1992 Olympic Games where he placed 10th in the Greco-Roman 82kg division. Henderson, who went on to place 12th at the 1996 Olympic Games in Greco-Roman at 82kg, is currently the champion of PRIDE and will be fighting Quinton Jackson of the UFC in a unification championship bout.
Other competitors include current combatants Don Frye and Chance Farrar, both of which were former members of the ASU wrestling program and are currently competing in various MMA circuits. No longer competing in MMA is former assistant coach and 1996 Olympic Silver Medalist in freestyle wrestling Townsend Saunders.
Jeff Funicello is a former Sun Devil wrestler that currently trains competitors for both MMA and grappling events. Recently recognized by FILA, the governing body of international wrestling, grappling is a form of combat wrestling that utilizes submission moves without the strikes and kicks seen in MMA competitions. Funicello competed in the first USA Grappling World Team Trials over the summer.