RevWrestling.com recently caught up with the two Cowboy greats and spoke to them about why each made the decision to enter MMA, John Smith's reaction, their current training situation, their MMA goals, and much more.
Rosholt: I basically spent the last year just in a whirlwind of different things, doing wrestling camps, coaching a wrestling club in Dallas, which is how I met the owners and the people behind Team Takedown. I was at Oklahoma State the first couple moths of the fall semester, working out and helping coach. That's when I decided that wasn't what I wanted to do. I took a job coaching a wrestling club in Dallas � and that's how I came to meet the guys in Team Takedown.
Johny, you won NCAA titles at Oklahoma State, but lost in the NCAA finals this year to Mark Perry of Iowa. How much did that loss bother you � and does it give you extra motivation as you begin your MMA career?
Hendricks: Yeah, definitely. It bothers me just because of the way things happened. I'm not going to say exactly what bothered me. Certain things do bother me, but life goes on. All that you can do is learn from the past and get better at whatever you're going to do. That's the way I'm looking at it.
When was the decision made to get into MMA? How did it come about?
Rosholt: It has always been in the back of my mind. I always kind of thought it would be fun to do. I was always interested in it, but I never had totally decided that was what I wanted to do. I met Ted Ehrhardt. I was coaching the wrestling club, and his kids wrestled in it, so I met him through that. He talked to me about MMA and getting into it. When he first talked to me about it, I was like, 'Nah, I've thought about doing it, but I don't know.' The more I thought about it, the more I got interested in it. The more I thought about it, the better it sounded. I went and tried it � and loved it. So that's where I am right now.
Hendricks: A while back, I wanted to do it. I've been watching it and looking at it. I thought I would be very good at it. So, probably about five or six years ago.
Did you grow up watching MMA?
Rosholt: I have hardly watched any of it. I mean, I know what it is. I've watched some of the bigger fights. All of my friends watch every Ultimate Fighter show and all the fights, but I was never somebody who was like, 'I have to watch every fight that comes on.'
John Smith obviously had a big influence on your career. What was his reaction when he found out that you were getting into MMA? How did you take the news? Did it bother him that you weren't continuing on in freestyle?
Rosholt: I had made the decision quite a while before getting into MMA not to continue wrestling, so that wasn't an issue at all. It wasn't like I was giving up wrestling to go into MMA. It wasn't an issue at all. I think Coach Smith might have been a little bit surprised about my decision to get into MMA, but I believe he knows that it's a good opportunity for me and a good opportunity for wrestling.
Hendricks: Yeah, it got to him because he wanted me to compete internationally. But other than that, now that it's over, he's happy for me. He says, 'I hope you do well. Best of luck. And I hope everything goes the way you want it to go.'
Is wrestling completely out of the picture now, Johny? Or do you think you could make a comeback at some point?
Hendricks: Probably not. My attitude is, I'm going to do the best I can at this and become very good at it. With that in mind, I want to hold the belt. That is where my mind is set. If I hold that belt, I'll probably never wrestle again.
What's your current training situation? Where do you live? And who do you train with?
Johny Hendricks and Jake Rosholt with Ted Ehrhardt of Team TakedownRosholt: I just moved to Las Vegas like two weeks ago. I'm living in Las Vegas � and all I'm doing is working out. I work out at Randy Couture's gym. Depending on the day, there are 10 to 20 different pro fighters in there working out. So there are a lot of different people to learn from. Right now, I'm just trying to get in shape and learn as much as possible. I don't know anything but wrestling, so I'm just trying to get everything figured out.
Hendricks: I live in Stillwater. Training wise, it's very hard to find people. I practice around and do stuff on my own. I'm just trying to practice what I've learned from going out to Randy Couture's gym. I'm practicing everything on my own, really, because it's hard to find partners around this area. Editor's Note: He and his wife will be moving to Las Vegas on May 15.
Couture also wrestled in college at Oklahoma State. Did you know Couture on a personal level prior to getting into MMA?
Rosholt: No. But when I became very interested in MMA, obviously I knew of Randy Couture. He's one of the best fighters ever. And I knew he wrestled at Oklahoma State. So I did a little looking around, got his phone number, got in contact with him, came out to Las Vegas, and sat down and had lunch with him. I just talked to him about the idea of me getting into MMA and what he thought about it. I just kind of got his personal opinion as to whether he thought it was a good idea, if he thought my wrestling would be a good transition to MMA. That was the first time I ever met Randy.
Hendricks: No. I did not. I heard the name and knew he wrestled at OSU. Coach told me about him and how he is a great guy. I haven't really followed him much, but I have realized what type of person he is. And hearing things about him through his gym, he's everything that Coach told me he is.
Is it more physically demanding to go through a wrestling match or an MMA fight?
Rosholt: I have no idea. I've never been in a fight. I've never been in the cage, so I don't know. I don't have any grounds to decide that on.
Hendricks: Um � I would have to say � I don't know. I've been through two MMA practices. It was hard, but I would have to say that wrestling was 10 times harder than that training. And it's broken up in sessions. That's why I didn't think it was as hard as wrestling. It is demanding, but I would say that I would rather fight than go through a wrestling practice.
Is there a timetable as to when your first fight will be?
Rosholt: I'm just trying to learn everything I can right now, get in shape, and get ready to fight. I'm anxious to get my first fight. I'm really anxious to get my first fight. But I want to be smart. And I want to be ready. Basically, I'm just going off people's feedback that they give me from working out. When I get down the road a little ways, and they say, �You look ready. You look like you're ready to fight.' More than that, that I feel ready. And I know that I'm ready to get in there and that I've had enough training and enough time to adjust from wrestling to fighting. Then we'll go out and find a fight. I'm looking at next fall sometime, whether it's as early as August, or a little bit later than that.
Hendricks: I'm just trying to learn, train, and become the best I can.
What are your MMA goals?
Jake RosholtRosholt: My MMA goal right now is just to learn everything I can. I don't want to be just one dimensional. I don't want to be just a wrestler. I want to be good on my feet. I want to be good on the ground. I want to dictate where the fight is at. My ultimate goal is to win a title, to hold the UFC title. I'm not just doing it just to win a few fights or be average. I want to be the best.
Hendricks: Well, like I said, hold the belt. That belt means everything to me now, just like that national championship was. That's the way I'm looking at it. That's what I'm going to strive for.
How much do you weigh now? And in which weight class do you plan to compete?
Rosholt: I weigh about 210 right now, but I'm going to fight at 185.
Hendricks: I weigh about 185, 188, but plan to compete at 170.
What part of your game do you think needs the most work at this point?
Rosholt: My standup, like the boxing and the kickboxing. Those sorts of things. I've never done it before. I started out working on that � and working really hard at it. I want to be good on my feet. Obviously, I want to be able to not get knocked out by getting punched or kicked, but I also want my hands to be good. I want to be able to dictate if I want to fight on my feet or take them down.
Hendricks: Probably submissions and striking. Those two. I believe that if I know how to strike, I can take anybody down. What I need to do is be able to get in close to them. And once I get in close to them, be able to overpower them, keep lifting the way that I do and keep my strength up.
Obviously, MMA has greatly risen in popularity in recent years. Do you think we'll see a trend in the coming years of successful collegiate wrestlers forgoing their international careers to train MMA?
Rosholt: I hope so. I think it's a good opportunity. It gives something else for wrestlers to do. It gives them another option after college.
Johny HendricksHendricks: I don't know. It depends. Obviously, I felt like I was someone who could compete for that World title. I really did see myself as that. But I looked at other things. I've wanted to fight for a long time and also help my family. Now I have to provide for a family. This is a better opportunity to provide for my family. Plus, I can become bigger than I ever thought I could. If I do everything I say that I want to do � How many people know all these fighters? It's a growing sport. I can help myself out that way. That's the way I'm looking at everything right now. I can provide for my family and one day not have to worry about anything. Through wrestling, I didn't see myself being able to do that. Some people can, but I just didn't see myself that way.
Are there any other recent college wrestlers training MMA that you know of?
Rosholt: I know just the three names that come to mind: Rashad Evans, Josh Koscheck, and Gray Maynard. Gray Maynard actually trains here at Randy Couture's gym. And Johny will be moving out here soon.
Hendricks: Other than Jake, I don't know who is in it and who is not.
Johny, Ben Askren has expressed interest in getting into MMA. What are your thoughts about him getting into the MMA arena? Knowing the type of competitor he is, do you expect him to be successful if he gets into MMA?
Hendricks: I don't know. I don't know what type of person he is. If he is the type of person for it, things are going to have to work out, just like for me. I know my mentality. And I know that whatever I do, I put one-hundred and ten percent into it. I believe that I have the meanness to do it. Those are all things that play a factor in getting into MMA. I don't know what type of personality he has, so I can't say anything on him.
Please Note:If you would like to read more about Jake Rosholt and Johny Hendricks and follow their MMA careers, check out their MySpace.com pages at the links below.
Jake Rosholt's MySpace
Johny Hendricks' MySpace