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Former NCAA wrestling star Ben Askren joins American Top Team

Ben Askren, considered by many pundits to be one of the greatest amateur wrestlers of all-time, has signaled his intent to pursue a career in professional mixed martial arts and has joined Florida’s American Top Team.

“We are very excited that Ben has joined our team and we look forward to working with this outstanding athlete,” an ATT official stated in a message on the Underground forum. “Ben already has a great (wrestling) base from which to work from and has taken to BJJ very quickly. He will head down to the main academy in Coconut Creek, Florida (in) mid-December to train with us, and also be training out of ATT Missouri with Wade Rome… He has a very bright MMA career ahead of him.”

Askren, who is 5’10”, competed at 174 pounds in college and is expected to compete as a welterweight in MMA. Several major agencies have already begun to recruit him as a client with hopes of landing him a lucrative contract with a major national promotion.

The Iowa native is believed to have already been working out of the ATT franchise in Missouri and is reportedly already a purple belt in jiu-jitsu.

The 24-year old Askren was a two-time NCAA champion while competing for the University of Missouri, where he posted an amazing record of 153-8 during his four-year amateur career. He is also fourth on the all-time NCAA list for pins with 91, trailing only Gene Mills (107), Wade Schalles (106), and Larry Bielenberg (94).

He most recently represented the United States during the 2008 Beijing Olympics this past August but failed to medal in the 74 kilogram (163 pounds) freestyle division.

Askren joins Johny Hendricks, Jake Rosholt, Muhammad Lawal, and Cain Velasquez as recent NCAA wrestling standouts to cross over into MMA.

  • Sergio Hernandez says:

    I think this is one of the best and undervalued aspects of the growth of MMA.

    Collegiate wrestlers finally having an avenue to which to continue their passion.

    Yes, wrestlers will have earned a degree in any number of fields while attending college but how many of them will ignore over 8 years of training, competition, and passion to work for an accounting firm?

  • dpk says:

    Sergio, I agree with you. With the next Olympics 4 years away, I really expect over the next couple of years to see alot of college All-Americans come straight into MMA when they graduate. Also you are going to start hearing alot about College wrestlers working on their standup and jiu jitsu in the off season.

  • dpk says:

    Just one more point to make – As MMA gets more popular, and keeps growing I expect amateur wrestling in the US to grow as well. Lesson’s in most martial arts, like Jiu jitsu, and kickboxing are not cheap, and in some cases they are not available. But for a kid growing up, wrestling is something that they can do at their High School for the cost of a pair of wrestling shoes. With wrestlers who have succeeded in MMA like Randy, Hendo, Lesnar, Chuck, Tito, Hughes, Kos, Faber, Pulver, Lindland, Jake Shields and the next generation like Mo Lawal, Jake Rosholt, Phil Davis, Hendricks, Cain Velazquez, Shane Carwin, Jake O’Brein, Dave Herman, Shane Roller, and now Ben Askren. Young wrestlers will have alot of guys to look up to as they think about MMA as a career


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