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Winn latest wrestler to join UFC

Deron Winn shoots a fireman's carry on Hayden Zillmer at the World Team Trials (Photo/Jeff Beshey, The Guillotine)

Deron Winn, two-time national junior college wrestling champ who has been fighting in mixed martial arts since May 2017, has signed a contract to compete for UFC.

Winn, who revealed his retirement from amateur wrestling by placing his shoes on the mat after competing at the first-ever American Wrestling League event in Cedar Rapids late last month, posted this message on his Facebook account Thursday afternoon, along with a photo of him about to sign papers:

"Hello UFC middleweights. My name is Deron Winn. Happy to announce I'm finally in the big leagues!"

In Ultimate Fighting Championships and other professional MMA organizations, middleweight has a top weight limit of 185 pounds. Winn won his two NJCAA (National Junior College Athletic Association) titles for St. Louis Community College, Meramec at 184 pounds. However, at the AWL event in November, the 29-year-old Winn wrestled at 92 kilograms/202 pounds ... and has competed as a light-heavyweight at 205 pounds in his pro MMA career.

No word yet as to when Winn will make his debut in the UFC Octagon.

Since launching his pro MMA career 18 months ago, Winn has compiled a perfect 5-0 record ... winning his first four bouts with a TKO in the first round. However, in his most recent match in November, Winn earned a unanimous decision over veteran Tom Lawlor in a co-main event at Golden Boy Promotions' inaugural MMA event.

Winn brings impressive wrestling credentials to UFC. The Liberty, Mo. native was a three-time Missouri high school state champ who later went on to national success at St. Louis/Meramec. Winn was in contention for a spot on the 2016 U.S. Olympic men's freestyle wrestling squad.

"A guy like me, with my wrestling credentials, at first I was just getting opponents off 'Oh maybe he just only knows how to wrestle and he can't fight yet,'" Winn told MMAfighting.com. "But I'm 4-0 with four first-round finishes. So, now it's even harder for me to get fights. The last guy I fought, I knocked out on the feet. Now they're scared of multiple things."

Winn, a member of the American Kickboxing Academy, has been guided to success in his pro MMA career by two giants in wrestling and UFC: trainer Kevin Jackson, former UFC champ and Olympic gold medalist, and, as mentor, Daniel Cormier, dual UFC champ and 2008 Olympic wrestler.

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