Kyle Snyder in a workout prior to the Olympic Games (Photo/Tony Rotundo, WrestlersAreWarriors.com)
Kyle Snyder, NCAA heavyweight champion for Ohio State who just last month, at age 20, became the youngest U.S. Olympic gold medalist in men's freestyle, has revealed his next career goal: to climb into the Ultimate Fighting Championships' Octagon and fight.
On Saturday the Buckeye senior posted this message on Twitter: "I want to fight @ufc."
Snyder was in attendance at Saturday's UFC 203 event at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland.
In an interview with Fox Sports, Snyder said, "I want to fight. Basically what that tweet means. I love wrestling, I really do. I would want to continue wrestling but I want to do both at the same time. I want to pursue my wrestling career, wrestle in World Championships and the Olympic games, but if the scheduling could work out and I can become an elite fighter, then I want to fight in the UFC as well.
"They put on a great show, it's really exciting," Snyder continued. "I think it's something that I could excel in. I haven't done much boxing or jiu-jitsu or striking or stuff like that but I think that I could pick it up pretty quickly. The crowd and the way they made the whole thing a big show was just exciting for me. It's something that I want to do."
A couple MMA journalists weighed in with comments on Snyder's career possibilities.
"If Snyder is legitimately interested in MMA, he could instantly become of the top prospects in the sport," said Josh Sanchez of CampusSports.net . "Considering the Buckeye star currently wrestles at 213 pounds, he could add new life and promise to the light heavyweight division. And we all know the division needs it."
Nathan McCarter of the BleacherReport.com also weighed in with his assessment of Snyder becoming a pro MMA fighter.
"Some fans may ask if he can make an immediate impact with minimal training. Yes, he could.
"Need a reference? Brock Lesnar. And Snyder is a much better wrestler," McCarter asserted, comparing the defending heavyweight champ from Ohio State to the University of Minnesota big man who won the same crown at the 2000 NCAAs.
"That is not to say he (Snyder) will have the same impact, but to let it be known his abilities make him an intriguing fighter to watch. He will have a lot of work ahead of him should he make the transition to MMA; picking up the striking and jiu-jitsu is no easy task. But being the elite of the elite in wrestling makes him better than most right out of the chute.
"Will the UFC sign him? They should. They made it a point to show him on the broadcast, and he would add an instant spark when he steps inside the cage," concluded McCarter.
A number of top college wrestlers have launched pro MMA careers over the years, including Randy Couture, Tyron Woodley, Daniel Cormier, Ben Askren, Bubba Jenkins, and Chris Honeycutt, and, more recently, Joey Davis and Logan Storley. If Kyle Snyder were to compete in UFC, he would join fellow Olympic champs Kevin Jackson (now head coach at Iowa State) and Henry Cejudo who turned gold into MMA success.
On the last day of competition at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro -- Sunday, Aug. 21 -- Snyder won the gold medal in men's freestyle at 97 kilograms/213 pounds.
Winning the gold in Rio capped off an incredible 12 months for Snyder. In that time frame, the Maryland native won a World title, an Olympic gold medal, and his first NCAA title, defeating the defending heavyweight champ, Nick Gwaizdowski of North Carolina State, and snapping his 88-match win streak. The last U.S. wrestler to rack up World, Olympic and national collegiate titles in the same amount of time was John Smith, six-time World and Olympic champion, who is now head coach at Oklahoma State.
Snyder became the 50th U.S. men's wrestler to have earned an Olympic gold medal. He is first Buckeye wrestler to compete at an Olympics since 1992, and the first Olympic wrestling champion for Ohio State since Harry Steel in 1924.
Update 9/13/16: Ohio State head wrestling coach Tom Ryan weighed in on Snyder's status as a Buckeye.
"Kyle is a Buckeye and will hopefully lead the program to another title. Immediately is a relative term," Ryan told the website Eleven Warriors, which describes itself as "Where Ohio State fans gather."
"Wrestling is his passion and he loves to compete. He's a modern day warrior. A William Wallace. Freedom is won by winning the crowd. We have heavy bags in our room as they are great for upper body shoulder strength and cardio. His objective is to master the sport of wrestling and earn a degree from one of the premiere institutions in the world. Sure, he might throw some punches as part of his training, but the plan is to hone in on low singles, ankle picks and other skills that will bring more NCAA, World and Olympic gold."
Coach Ryan added that Snyder is also a champion in the classroom.
"This is a 3.85 student with great counsel around him. School is important to him."