Koscheck, a UFC veteran, has a big following after being on the first-ever The Ultimate Fighter reality television show. Rosholt has a nice following as a member of Team Takedown and because of his appearance on the popular profile television series Tapout. In short, we have former UFC champions, top contenders, UFC veterans, reality television fighters, and a licensed doctor debuting on the UFC 106 card. You did not read a typo ... A licensed doctor will be making his UFC debut. I would like to introduce Dr. Jacob Volkmann D.C.
Jacob VolkmannOn Saturday, when the undercard begins, many will watch Jacob Volkmann's debut against Brazilian black belt Paulo Thiago. They may scratch their heads and wonder who these guys are. Thiago, who beat the aforementioned Koscheck by TKO and lost to former Purdue wrestler Jon Fitch by unanimous decision in his two UFC matches, will have a big Brazilian fan base. Many in the wrestling community will know that Volkmann was a three-time All American wrestler at the University of Minnesota, but to the general public he's a virtual unknown. Without a profile or photo on the official UFC Web site, you would be hard-pressed to find any information about Volkmann's MMA career. He hopes to turn all that around with a successful victory in his debut.
Before his amateur wrestling accomplishments or his world grappling titles, Jacob Volkmann's journey started in a small town called Henning, located in west central Minnesota. Growing up on a farm, he started working at four years old.
At four years old? What does a four-year-old do on a farm?
"I don't know ... Whatever my dad told me to do," replied Volkmann. "My whole family went to a chiropractor, so that's how I got interested in it. My neck and back were always messed up from picking rocks, baling hay, moving pigs. I started seeing a chiropractor at six years old."
At six years old, the seed was planted for the future doctor.
Jacob VolkmannAfter winning three Minnesota high school state titles in Minnesota's small-school division, Volkmann was an unheralded recruit who decided to attend the University of Minnesota. While many athletes struggle to balance academics and athletics, Volkmann, a tireless worker, thrived, graduating with a double major in geology and geophysics. Not only did he thrive in the classroom, but also on the wrestling mat. He was a Big Ten champion and three-time All-American for the Gophers.
After graduating from the University of Minnesota, Volkmann attended Northwestern Health Science University in Bloomington, Minnesota, earning his Doctor of Chiropractic degree. He studied, interned, and earned his degree while competing in senior level Greco-Roman wrestling events. A little over a year later, he met then-UFC lightweight champion Sean Sherk and Coach Greg Nelson in the Gopher wrestling room.
At the time, Sean Sherk was the newly-crowned UFC lightweight champion preparing for his first title defense against Hermes Franca. Volkmann knew little to nothing about mixed martial arts.
"They came into the wrestling room and showed some submissions," recalled Volkmann. "(Sherk) asked me to help him train for the title fight ... and it went from there."
Volkmann, meanwhile, is the latest UFC signee from the Minnesota Martial Arts Academy, which is home to fighters such as Sherk, UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar, welterweight contender Brock Larson, recent UFC arrival Nik Lentz, among others.
In 2008, Jacob Volkmann was a World champion in grappling (Photo/AmateurWrestlingPhotos.com)Volkmann has been a professional fighter for less than three years and has kept a hectic fight schedule. He is currently 9-0 with seven first-round submission victories.
In 2008, he had six professional fights and found time to win the U.S. Grappling World Team Trials and then went on to capture the FILA World Grappling title, defeating black belt Brazilian Marcello Salazar Mousinho.
Last month, while attempting to defend his World title, Volkmann lost at the U.S. Grappling World Team Trials to Olympic wrestler and two-time NCAA champion Ben Askren.
Volkmann would like to fight every three to four months in the UFC. Ironically, he signed a four-fight UFC contract. The contract is voidable if Volkmann loses any of the four fights.
Nik Lentz, who recently defeated Rafaello Oliveira this past September in his UFC debut, is not surprised by Volkmann's steady rise in MMA.
"He's tough on the mat," said Lentz. "I mean, look at his World title. He's just really tough and aggressive in all aspects."
Lentz says that it's important that Volkmann stay focused on the task at hand.
"I would tell any first-time UFC fighter that it's such a blur," said Lentz. "You have weigh-ins, press ... all that stuff. You have to just cut all of it out and focus on the fight. Volkmann is going to be alright."
Volkmann's first test in the UFC is no small challenge. His opponent not only has an impressive 11-1 record, but already has two UFC fights under his belt. He is also a black belt in Brazilian jujitsu ... Not that Volkmann is losing too much sleep over that fact.
"His strength is jujitsu," said Volkmann. "That's pretty obvious. I'm not too worried about that because that's my strength."
Volkmann's biggest advantage with Thiago, besides his experience competing in world grappling event, is that he is an accomplished amateur wrestler. He can dictate if he would like to keep the fight standing or take it to the mat. While analyzing the fight, Thiago would be hard-pressed to take Volkmann down.
Jacob Volkmann brings a 9-0 record into the UFC"Maybe get him in a front head lock so I can work the body shots, wear him out that way so I'm not worried about an uppercut that comes out of nowhere or not worried about a knee bar or a heel hook. He likes to do those ... the leg submissions."
So what advice would Volkmann give to someone looking to parlay a wrestling career into an MMA career?
"Start training boxing, jujitsu, and wrestling," said Volkmann. "Get a good gym, a coach that knows what he's talking about. Find one that is actually credentialed ... like Greg Nelson is credentialed."
For most wrestlers turned MMA fighters, learning the technical part of striking can be difficult. Leg kicks, boxing, muay thai, among other things related to striking seem to be the last things that former wrestlers develop. Volkmann agrees and is no different in his personal assessment.
"The hardest part is the footwork with boxing," said Volkmann. It's a little different from boxing and doing MMA, so you kind of have to learn the MMA part of boxing. It's not just street boxing."
Volkmann remains confident while training and sparring with various former champs in his camp. Different guys push him on a daily basis.
One of those guys is Paul Bradley, former two-time All-American for Iowa. Bradley currently sports a professional MMA record of 12-1.
"The wrestling and boxing ... Paul Bradley is pretty hard. He's got good takedown defense and is pretty quick."
Jacob Volkmann with his family"Everyone has their parts," continued Volkmann. "I would say Sean Sherk is the toughest on the mat ... well, Nik Lentz and Sean Sherk. They are so different, but they both give me a tough time on the mat with the jujitsu part. On the wrestling and boxing, I'm going to say Paul is the toughest."
Volkmann is still actively involved in the sport of wrestling ... just not as a competitor. He serves as the head coach of the Ice Bears, a youth wrestling club in White Bear Lake, Minnesota, where he resides and runs his new chiropractic clinic, Volkmann Chiropractic. He also gives his time and expertise to high school wrestlers. But Volkmann has little desire to one day coach at his alma mater, the University of Minnesota.
"I'm going to stick with the little guys and high school wrestlers," said Volkmann.
A professional MMA fighter, World champion grappler, three-time All American college wrestler, three-time high school champion, wrestling coach, father, husband, and a doctor. You can choose whatever title you want when describing Jacob Volkmann, and it would carry validity. Nonetheless, when I think of Jacob Volkmann only one phrase resonates during the time I have researched, interviewed, and asked questions about him as an athlete and person: An inspirational role model.