This week the RUDIS Wrestling Podcast opens up with a Big Announcement
The deal to send Demetrious Johnson from the UFC to ONE Championship in exchange for Ben Askren has been completed. This trade is the first of its kind where two contracted fighters were traded between two promotion companies. The trade offers an exciting transition for both Askren and the sport of Mixed Martial Arts itself. In this episode, Ben Askren talks about how he first entered the sport after achieving his goal of wrestling at the Olympics. Ben now holds onto a belt in two of the three major organizations and is now looking to collect the third in the UFC. After going undefeated for 9 years with an 18-0-0 record, Askren has no reservations about moving into the UFC where he plans to compete with the best in the world.
The Depth of Fighters
Moving on from Ben Askren’s personal experience in the sport, Ben and Matt discuss the depth of fighters in the UFC compared to other organizations. They take an in-depth look at why we see high level wrestlers finding such success in the sport. Askren points out that the large majority of fighters, including himself, who have made the transition from wrestling are doing so at a much later stage in their career. All of this success is taking place after these wrestlers have already achieved a high level of experience and have found success elsewhere. Often this does not until after they have completed college or even later in their careers.
This experience very clearly translates to the octagon with most of the current UFC Champions being former Div. 1 wrestlers and Olympic wrestlers. Ben wraps up the MMA discussions explaining that contract discussions are still ongoing but he reveals who he hopes to meet inside the octagon in the near future and hopes to push for splitting the current 170lb belt to two 165lb and 175lb belts in the UFC where he would be able to comfortably compete at both.
Women in Wrestling
Transitioning back to wrestling, Ben and Matt finish up discussions on the World Championships in Budapest. Beginning with Adeline Gray, who is now the 5th American to earn 4 world titles. At 27 years old, she is definitely a dominant force in women’s wrestling. Besides Gray, Ben and Matt next discussed Helen Maroulis. Maroulis took gold at the 2015 world championships in Las Vegas. Unfortunately, Maroulis dealt with multiple concussion effects leading up to the world championships. Making it difficult for her to prepare herself mentally and physically. Maroulis had to avoid full contact and live drilling due to possible risks in correlation to her concussion. These restrictions were certainly a factor in Budapest. In a match that looked far more reserved than her normal style of wrestling, Maroulis lost the first round to Alyona Kolesnik of Azerbaijan.
Next, Ben and Matt turn their attention to Sarah Hildebrandt, who lost in the finals to Haruna Okuno of Japan after a very solid trek to the finals. Ultimately, they turn to the future of women’s wrestling in the United States where they have seen massive growth in youth and collegiate programs and hope to see it sanctioned by the NCAA in the near future.
Greco Roman Wrestling
Finally, Ben and Matt land on the subject of the US men’s Greco Roman wrestling. They begin with Adam Coon, who seemed to be the one bright spot as the first US Greco medalist since 2015. He was also the first US Greco finalist since 2009. Coon has shown a rapid and recent improvement in his wrestling abilities. Those abilities were clearly apparent in Budapest with an “utterly dominant” performance. Ultimately, Adam Coon walked to the finals with 4 pins in his first 4 matches. He took second place to Sergey Semenov of Russia, which leaves Coon with a massive future in the sport.
Next, Ben and Matt discuss the preparation the Greco team had for Budapest. There is heavy debate as the team was not only in Budapest 25 days before the event but they were also training with their competition while they were there and many believe this was harmful to the wrestlers and their mentality going into matches. Matt and Ben end the discussion with why America hasn’t seen success in Greco in recent years, debating its prominence in the US, how American folkstyle wrestling translates to Greco, and how coaching style has had a possible impact on US success.
0:00 Ben’s Trade to the UFC
13:20 Depth of Field in the UFC
24:04 Women’s Freestyle Results in Budapest
30:27 Future of US Women’s Wrestling
33:25 Men’s Greco Roman Results
Where to find the RUDIS Wrestling Podcast
The RUDIS Wrestling Podcast is hosted Ben Askren and Matt Dernlan. Ben Askren, World Champion and Olympic wrestler, joins RUDIS from the T-Row & Funky Show in an official partnership as a content provider for all things RUDIS. Matt Dernlan joins from a D1 college coaching background with family roots grounded in Ohio wrestling with a collective 10 state titles on the shelf.