Mixed martial arts is one of the fastest growing sports in the United States, and some former Penn State wrestlers are also joining the movement.
Mixed martial arts, more commonly known as MMA, is a unique place where all types of fighters with different styles can walk together in the octagon: wrestlers, boxers, kickboxers and karatekas can find themselves staring at an opponent. in the ring.
UFC and Bellator MMA are rapidly gaining popularity, and UFC sold for a record $ 4 billion in 2016.
Wrestling is one of the main fighting styles in the UFC and the Bellator, which makes it an option for wrestlers after graduating from college if they choose this path.
As Penn State wrestling made its name on the college scene, a few former Nittany Lions embarked on MMA careers after leaving Happy Valley.
Ed Ruth is possibly Penn State’s best-known wrestler who made his way into MMA.
His performance for the Nittany Lions was legendary. He recorded a career 136-3 record, finishing with three consecutive national championships and two seasons unbeaten.
Ruth’s MMA career began in 2016 at Bellator 163, two years after graduating from Penn State. He beat Dustin Collins-Miles by TKO in the first round of his debut.
He has appeared in 11 fights, dating from 2016 to September 2020. Ruth is a career 8-3 record with six knockouts and has fought in three different weight divisions.
However, it appears Ruth’s MMA career has ended or at least been put on hold, as he joined the Illinois wrestling program as a coach.
Phil Davis had a pretty solid wrestling career at Penn State himself, although it wasn’t on the same level as Ruth’s.
Davis finished with a career college record of 116-20 and also won a national title at 197 pounds in his senior year.
After winning his first national title in 2008, Davis began his MMA career almost immediately and won his first fight in October of the same year.
Among the Nittany Lions who have traveled to the MMA scene, Davis has the longest and richest career to date.
He currently holds a career record of 22-6-1 over 13 years, including stints at the UFC and Bellator.
However, his biggest achievement came in 2016 when he became Bellator’s light heavyweight champion, defeating Liam McGeary by unanimous decision.
Davis is still active in the world of MMA, his most recent fight being in April.
Jimmy Lawson wore the blue and white jersey for three seasons, starting in his sophomore year. He finished with a college record of 58-20, and his best NCAA result was sixth.
After Ruth and Davis, Lawson also took the MMA path after graduating from Penn State.
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Lawson has only appeared in three fights, all in 2019. His career record is 2-1-0 and he has fought for the organizations Ring of Combat and Titan FC.
He hasn’t fought since November 2019. He was scheduled to fight in February 2020, but the fight was called off.
Cody Law fought for the blue and white for two seasons before being transferred to Pittsburgh-Johnstown for the remainder of his eligibility.
During Law’s brief stint at Happy Valley, he posted a combined 21-9 record in the 157 and 165 pound classes.
However, Law appears to have found his way as a fighter for Bellator MMA after his first fight in October 2020. He’s off to a good start, compiling four unbeaten wins.
He won his first fight by submission, his second fight by TKO and his most recent fight which he won by own knockout.
After a good start to his career, Law has the potential to be the best fighter to come through Penn State Wrestling.