Winn wins pro MMA debut

The same night as twenty of the top college wrestlers were doing battle in the finals of the 2017 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships, former college wrestling champ Deron Winn was making his professional mixed martial arts debut in the San Francisco Bay area.

Winn, a two-time junior college wrestling champ and freestyle competitor, barely broke a sweat as he knocked out Mike "Chunk" Morales of Susanville, Calif. in less than a half-minute at Conquer Fighting Championships' Conquer 3 MMA event at Craneway Pavilion in Richmond, Calif. Saturday night.

Deron Winn
In his pro MMA debut, Winn stormed across the cage toward Morales, executed a double-leg takedown against the fence, then body-slammed the veteran MMA fighter. Conquer 3's co-main-event bout at 205 pounds - slated for three five-minute rounds -- was over in less than 30 seconds.

"While most rookies are slowly ushered along, the matchmakers at CFC inked a deal that, seemingly, tossed the debutante to the wolves," is how Conquer Fighting set up Winn's pro MMA debut in an article at its website just days before the fight. "Standing across from Winn will be Morales, a journeyman with thirteen fights under his belt. 'Chunk' will roll into Richmond's Craneway Pavilion with a win at Global Knockout 8 at the end of 2016 in his rearview mirror, so, regardless of his record, a surge of success and a wealth of experience could lead the product of Iron Pit Fight Team to the top of the podium."

Instead, Winn, the rookie product of Dethrone Fresno, made short work of Morales, who has been fighting professionally since Aug. 2013.

"I'm here to be the best in the world," is what Winn told InterMat.

In September 2016, InterMat reported that Winn announced he had signed with Zinkin Entertainment, an organization that represents a number of former mat stars entering mixed martial arts competition.

In announcing he had signed with Zinkin, Winn explained how he decided to enter the world of MMA competition.

"Just a few weeks back I went to train in San Jose at AKA (American Kickboxing Academy) with the UFC light heavyweight champ Daniel Cormier," Winn said. "Before going there I would say I had little to no interest in being a professional fighter. After I training MMA for about a week my interest skyrocketed." (Prior to launching his successful pro MMA career, Cormier was a junior college champ who became an NCAA All-American at Oklahoma State and a two-time U.S. Olympic freestyle wrestling team member.)

Winn's own amateur wrestling resume is impressive. He was a three-time Missouri state wrestling champ for Liberty High School outside Kansas City. Winn then enrolled at St. Louis Community College, Meramec where he was a two-time NJCAA (National Junior College Athletic Association) champ. At the 2008 NJCAA Nationals, Winn was named the Outstanding Wrestler at the championships. In addition, Winn has also wrestled freestyle for USA Wrestling at 98 kilograms/189 pounds.


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