Interesting to see Cael's perspective in light of his relationship with Randy.
There was a wrestler at ISU, Justin Wren, that had done some MMA. Anyone know what he's up to now?
Iowa State wrestling coach Cael Sanderson was interested in the UFC heavyweight fight Saturday night but was still cleaning up after the Cyclone Open.
His business partner, Randy Couture, lost to Brock Lesnar by technical knockout in the title fight, which was one of the most highly-anticipated fights in American mixed martial arts. Both fighters were highly-decorated amateur wrestlers, but a personal relationship had Sanderson pulling for the 45-year-old Couture.
?He?s a competitor, and a fighter, and a tough guy, obviously,? Sanderson said of Couture, who lost by technical knockout in the second round. ?I just think Lesnar was just kind of a lot to handle. He is a big dude, big and powerful ? so that was a tough fight for Randy, but I think he just loves competing. And from what I heard, he had a good time, other than getting punched in the head.?
During the off-season, Sanderson and chemist B.J. Thomas started a new company, Undefeated Sports Nutrition. Over the summer, they brought Couture into their company, who makes custom drinks for endurance athletes.
Sanderson attended one of Couture?s mixed martial arts practices to shoot a promotional video.
?I got to roll around with Forrest Griffin and a couple other guys ? ,? Sanderson said. ?So that was fun for me. It was just like a wrestling practice; it happened to be the grappling day, so they weren?t punching me or anything.?
Sanderson said he ?wasn?t a big fan? of UFC fights at first.
?I wasn?t sure how I viewed it,? he said. ?It?s brutal, obviously, but I just kind of view it [as] competition. It?s taking wrestling up a notch, and it?s just competition, really, at its best, in its purest form. It?s you against someone else, and the guy who?s standing wins.?
Mixed martial arts fights are now held in bars and other venues all over the country, including Hilton Coliseum, where the ?Coliseum Carnage? event was held in April. The sport is flooded with former amateur wrestlers, including recent NCAA Champions Jake Rosholt, Johny Hendricks, Phil Davis and Ben Askren.
?MMA is a good option for wrestlers,? Sanderson said. ?It?s kind of a way to use their skills and make some money, so I think it?s exciting for wrestlers. It?s a good opportunity for them. I?m not going to encourage our guys to do it or not to do it, but we?re definitely seeing a lot of college wrestlers going right into it.?
Entering with an elite level of conditioning and wrestling skill aids the cross-over athletes. Rosholt was recently tabbed by Sports Illustrated as one of the ?Top 10 Up-and-Coming MMA Fighters.?
?The short history of the sport has shown that wrestlers can do pretty well,? Sanderson said. ?It?s changed; the sport has evolved. You can?t just jump in there and think that you?re going to wrestle somebody until they tap out. You?ve got to learn how to strike, and you have to learn how to defend yourself.
?There is a lot to it ? it really is mixed martial arts now. The first couple go-arounds were the karate guy vs. the boxer, and the boxer vs. the wrestler. And that may have been more exciting for the spectator, but that?s now how it is anymore.?