2x NCAA All-American Nick Piccininni (photo courtesy of Tony Rotundo; WrestlersAreWarriors.com)
The MMA world never stops turning, but here at InterMat, a wrestling website, we try to focus onâ€¦ wrestling. However, this week we found the time to put together another MMA Weekend guide for the wrestling fan since there are some former high-profile wrestlers plying their trade in the fighting arena.
Saturday: UFC Vegas 66
Drew Dober vs. Bobby Green
The opening fight of the main card features a pair of high-action strikers who actually got their start in wrestling. Dober was a two-year starter at Millard North and qualified for the 2007 Class A tournament in Nebraska. Green was also an accomplished high school wrestler in California as he was a two-time state placer for A.B. Miller in Fontana.
Dober brings a 25-11 record into the Octagon and is coming off a pair of devastating knockouts over fellow wrestler Terrance McKinney and Rafael Alves. Green has been fighting professionally since 2008. For his last fight, he took a short-notice bout against Islam Makhachev and lost in the first round. With the loss, Green's record dropped to 29-13-1, while Makhachev went on to win the lightweight title.
Cody Brundage vs. MichaÅ‚ Oleksiejczuk
During his college days at Newberry, Brundage was a two-time NCAA Division II qualifier and finished with 96 wins, which is the seventh most in program history. The former team captain made his professional MMA debut in 2019 and has since built an 8-2 record. On Saturday he faces off against Oleksiejczuk, who is 17-5 and coming off a win over veteran Sam Alvey this past August.
Matthew Semelsberger vs. Jake Matthews
Semelsberger played college football at Marist, but prior to that, he was a three-sport athlete on the high school level. He played football and lacrosse while also competing on the wrestling mats for Urbana in Maryland. Following his college career, Semelsberger made his professional MMA debut in 2017. He is currently 4-2 in the UFC after joining the promotion in 2020. He has a tough test on Saturday against Matthews. The Australian has learned on the job in the UFC since 2014 and appears to be rounding into form. He holds an 18-5 record.
Dober and Green will be on the main card of UFC Vegas 66, which airs live on ESPN+ at 7:00pm ET. The rest of the wrestlers will be on the preliminary card, also on ESPN+, which begins at 4:00pm ET.
Sunday: Fury FC 72
Jacobe Smith vs. Tommie Britton
After starting his collegiate career at Northeastern Oklahoma, Smith transferred to Oklahoma State for his last two years. During his time with the Cowboys, he was a two-year starter and qualified for a pair of NCAA tournaments. As a junior in 2018, Smith finished eighth to become an All-American. In 2021, he made his professional MMA debut and has since built a 3-0 record. In his last fight, he scored a 42-second victory over Zac Kelley under the Xtreme Fight Night banner.
His opponent on Saturday might be somewhat known among wrestling fans. He fought twice against former Central Michigan All-American Jarod Trice and lost both fights. Last June, Britton dropped a decision against Zack Borrego, who later faced off against Bo Nickal on Dana White's Contenders Series. Britton holds a 5-9 record as a professional.
Nick Piccininni vs. Freddie Rodriguez
Piccininni also starred for Oklahoma State on the college mats. He was a two-time All-American for the Cowboys and a four-time Big 12 champion. Piccininni made his professional MMA debut in 2021 and currently holds a 3-0 record. In his last fight, he scored a unanimous decision victory over Shawn Gustafson.
Rodriguez is also a wrestling veteran. He won an NJCAA championship before ending up at Southern Illinois Edwardsville. There he was a two-time NCAA qualifier who compiled a record of 46-14 and was a Round of 12 finisher. Rodriguez is currently 4-0 as a professional after making his debut earlier this year. In his third fight, he scored a decision victory over fellow former wrestler Gavin Teasdale. For wrestling fans, this is likely the fight of the weekend.
Both of these fights are currently scheduled to be part of the YouTube preliminary card of Fury FC 72, which will air live at 2:30pm ET. However, these cards are often shuffled, and the bout might end up on the main card, which is scheduled to begin at 5:30pm ET on UFC Fight Pass.