MMA fighting

Gable Steveson retires from wrestling after winning second NCAA title as he moves to WWE

Gable Steveson has officially retired from the sport of wrestling after wrapping up his second straight NCAA championship on Saturday night in Detroit.

His 6-2 victory over Arizona State’s Cohlton Schultz capped a dominating run for the 21-year-old heavyweight from the University of Minnesota. After picking up his victory, Steveson celebrated with his signature high-flying high in the air before removing his shoes and leaving them in the center of the mat, signifying the end of his wrestling career.

“It’s done,” Steveson said on ESPN of his retirement. “I knew what I had come to do. I was going to win an Olympic gold medal, win the national tournament again. It’s just weird. I don’t know how to describe it.

Steveson was a strong favorite to repeat as NCAA champion after completing a stunning run at the 2020 Olympics, where he won gold at 125kg. The final streak in Tokyo saw Steveson come from behind in the dying seconds to score a strikeout to beat Geno Petriashvili of Georgia and become Olympic champion.

Following this historic win, Steveson was bombarded with opportunities to potentially return to wrestling or look to a future in professional wrestling or mixed martial arts. In the end, Steveson decided to return to Minnesota to win another national championship while signing a NIL (name, image and likeness) rights deal with World Wrestling Entertainment.

Steveson made several appearances on WWE programming as he prepared to eventually transition into professional wrestling.

Now that that journey is over, as Steveson retires from competition to focus on his new WWE career, wrestling will always have a special place in his heart and he even offered some advice to the next generation of athletes. who will take his place.

“Just maturing, physically and mentally, having good people around me,” Steveson said of his own career. “Having a good support system. It took me to many places, you could see so many more.

“Just stay focused, stay focused, keep a good group of friends, young kids stay in school, have fun, train hard and love wrestling. You’ll never get here if you don’t love it. not.

Former two-division UFC champion Daniel Cormier called the matches from ESPN’s commentary booth on Saturday and was sad to see Steveson give up the fight, especially given the potential he had to return for another Olympic race in 2024.

That said, Steveson had obviously decided that Saturday would be his last match, with plans now to focus fully on a future in WWE.

“For a youngster like him at the top of his game, it shows what a special talent Gable Steveson is,” Cormier said. “It’s sad for me as a wrestler. It’s sad for me to know he’s not coming back.

“I appreciate all the memories we have. Who will ever forget this? Who will forget his multiple eliminations with 15 seconds left to win the Olympic title?

It’s unclear when Steveson will make his WWE debut, but many believe he’ll at least appear at WrestleMania 38, which is scheduled for April 2-3 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.