UFC fighter Deron Winn in Fargo in 2021 (photo courtesy of Tony Rotundo; WrestlersAreWarriors.com)
The Wrestling Fan's Guide to MMA is back. This week we focus on Friday's offer from the Professional Fighters League as well as a UFC show that will air live on ESPN. The two shows feature multiple former collegiate wrestlers as well as some international competitors in both freestyle and Greco Roman.
Friday: PFL 4
Josh Silveira vs Marthin Hamlet
During his collegiate days, Silveira won a Pac 12 title for Arizona State at 197 pounds in 2016 to qualify for the NCAA tournament. Considering his father fought in the UFC in the 90s and is a respected coach, it is no surprise that Silveira made his MMA debut in 2019. He has already built an undefeated 8-0 record and won his last fight on the PFL Challengers Series.
Hamlet was regular on the Greco-Roman circuit for Norway from 2011 to 2016. He won multiple Nordic Championships at 98 kg, but his best finish was a bronze medal at the 2014 European Championships. Hamlet finished fifth at the Olympic Qualification Tournament for the 2016 Olympics and then decided to focus on MMA. He made his professional debut the following year and has gone 9-3 in the sport. He signed with the PFL last year and has gone 3-2 with the promotion.
The Silveira vs. Hamlet fight will be the second bout in the preliminary card of PFL 4. The event is scheduled to begin at 7:00pm ET on ESPN+.
Saturday: UFC Austin
Josh Emmett vs. Calvin Kattar
In the main event of the UFC's trip to Austin, Calvin Kattar will take on Josh Emmett in a featherweight contest. Both fighters are ranked in the top 10, and a win here could put them in position to challenge for a title shot down the road.
During his high school days, Kattar was a wrestler for Methuen High School. As a senior in 2006, he finished fifth in the state of Massachusetts. After graduation, he chose to start training for MMA instead of continuing to wrestle in college.
Emmett spent his prep days in Arizona before continuing on the collegiate level. He spent two years at Sacramento City College in the California Community College division, before moving up to the NAIA level to wrestle for Menlo.
Despite their wrestling backgrounds, these two will likely slug it out on the feet. Many expect this one to be a fan favorite. You can read more about the fight in this humble writer's stats-based newsletter.
Julian Marquez vs. Gregory Rodrigues
Marquez came up wrestling in Missouri before continuing his wrestling career at Missouri Valley. However, he reportedly left the team and school after getting into a fight with a teammate. Marquez joined the UFC in 2017 and has gone 3-1 in the promotion.
Rodrigues actually started out in capoeira and jiu-jitsu before giving wrestling a shot. In 2014, he entered the Cadet Pan American Championships in both styles. Rodrigues finished fifth in Greco but made the finals on the freestyle side. In the finals, he lost against Kaleb Friedley who went on to be an NCAA qualifier for Northwestern. Rodrigues turned to professional MMA in 2014 and signed with the UFC last year. He won his first two fights in the promotion but is coming off a loss against Armen Petrosyan in February.
Jasmine Jasudavicius vs. Natalia Silva
Jasudavicius was a regular on the Canadian ladder and placed at Nationals multiple times. She turned to professional MMA in 2019 and made it to the UFC in under three years. After earning a contract via Dana White's Contender Series, she has gone 2-0 in the Octagon and is coming off an impressive win over prospect Kay Hansen. Her opponent on Saturday holds a 12-5-1 record as a professional, but will be making her UFC debut.
Court McGee vs. Jeremiah Wells
McGee was a two-time state placer in Utah. His best finish came in 2003 when he finished third in the state 5A division. McGee won the 11th season of "The Ultimate Fighter" in 2010 and has fought exclusively for the promotion since. From 2017 to 2020, he lost five of six fights. However, he turned things around last year and has picked up back-to-back wins. Wells has gone 10-2-1 overall as a professional and has won a pair of UFC fights since joining the promotion last year.
Cody Stamann vs. Eddie Wineland
While in college, Stamann was part of the Grand Valley NCWA team that also helped produce fellow MMA fighters Kevin Lee and Tony Ferguson. The Michigan native made the transition to MMA in 2011 and signed with the UFC in 2017. He won five of his first seven fights with the promotion. However, Stamann is currently riding a three-fight losing streak. He will likely need to pick up a victory here to keep his job with the promotion. Wineland held the WEC bantamweight title back in 2006 and is still competing today. Recently the 37-year-old fighter has struggled and gone 1-4 in his last five fights.
Phil Hawes vs. Deron Winn
This fight is probably the main event as far as wrestling fans are concerned. Hawes won an NJCAA title at Iowa Central in 2010 before transferring to Iowa State. He spent a year with the Cyclones before finishing his career with traditional Division III power Wartburg. After multiple stints on Dana White's Contenders Series, Hawes finally made his UFC debut in 2020. He won his first three fights with the promotion but dropped his last fight against Chris Curtis last November.
Winn was also an NJCAA champion during his collegiate days. He won that title for Meramec before continuing his career at Lindenwood. Winn also found success there finishing third at the NAIA tournament to become an All-American. He continued wrestling on the freestyle circuit where he won multiple medals and finished second at the 2018 World Team Trials Challenge Tournament. Winn dropped his first two fights in the UFC, but bounced back in 2020 with a victory over Antonio Arroyo.
Emmett, Kattar, Marquez and Rodrigues will all be part of the main card, which airs live on ESPN at 7:00pm ET. The rest will be on the under that is scheduled to begin at 4:00pm ET on the same network.