FiveOuncesOfPain.com will be running a series of articles this summer that previews the U.S. wrestling team’s involvement with the Olympic Games on that will commence on August 8 in Beijing, China. Part I can be read by clicking here.
Part of the appeal of this summer’s Olympic wrestling team will be the fact that the squad, which is traditionally laden with veterans, will have some fresh new faces in search of Olympic glory for the first time.
Two of those faces are 21-year old Arizonan Henry Cejudo and 18-year old Minnesotan Jake Deitschler, who will be two of the young faces to watch for the U.S. in Beijing. The pair were part of the Olympic wrestling team that visited New York last week on their “Fuel The Dream” tour, and both were more than aware of what challenges and opportunities lie ahead in Beijing and beyond.
But are they MMA fans? You bet.
Deitschler, who is scheduled to attend the University of Minnesota in the fall (classes start just three days after the closing ceremonies) has had the chance to grapple all over the state with a host of the world’s best wrestlers, and recently spent time in Minneapolis speaking to UFC and WWE veteran Brock Lesnar on his transition from wrestling to the professional side.
“The great thing about being around the University of Minnesota is that you get to talk and workout with the best,” Deitschler began. “And although I haven’t wrestled with him, Brock has been great at giving advice and helping me prepare for what lies ahead. He helped set the standard.”
That standard includes NCAA glory followed by a path to the WWE and recently to the UFC. is it a path Deitchler would follow?
“I started watching my first UFC videos when I was seven, so I know all about the stars of MMA and how many of them have wrestling backgrounds,” he said. “Right now all my focus is on the Olympics and then being a great wrestler. Whatever happens after that for me is a very long way off.”
Cejudo, a trailblazer himself, skipped college and went right into the Olympic Development Program in Colorado Springs at 18, and is now a world wrestling veteran at 21. The Mexican-American has the experience and attitude to bring home gold in Beijing, and after that would consider an MMA career, although his focus too is on Beijing.
“I have watched the UFC all my life, and I think wrestling, especially for someone my size, gives me a great advantage against other MMA disciplines,” said Cejudo. “Can I learn the striking and the jiu-jitsu? Yes. And like with wrestling I would learn those skills form some of the masters. I think my biggest concern would be weight class. I’m using my quickness to be successful, and althought there are many lower weight classes in boxing, they don’t exist as much in MMA. Maybe a 135 is something that the UFC would start in the future, but for now I’m just glad to get a chance to be part of the Olympic wrestling team and go from there. My goal right now is to be the best wrestler, period.”