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  • Photo: Tony Rotundo

    Photo: Tony Rotundo

    The Wrestling Fan's Guide to the MMA Weekend (8/11/23)

    This MMA weekend is packed with former collegiate wrestlers. As always, the Bellator show is loaded, but there are a few smaller shows that also have some impressive wrestling talent. The following is a breakdown of those upcoming fights. If we missed any, please let us know in the comment section. 

     

    Friday: Bellator 298

    Logan Storley vs. Brennan Ward

    During his collegiate days, Storley was a four-time All-American for Minnesota. His best finish at the NCAA tournament came during his junior season where he finished third at 174 pounds and scored victories over Matt Brown (Penn State) and Robert Koeksh (Nebraska). Storley returned at the same weight for his senior year in 2015 and finished fourth.

    Eight months after his last NCAA tournament, he made his MMA debut. Storley has gone 14-2 to date with both of his losses coming against Bellator welterweight champion Yaroslav Amosov by decision. Last year, he won the interim title over Michael Page but failed to hold the title in the unification match against Amosov.

    Ward was a Division III All-American during his time at Johnson & Wales. Interestingly enough, he was prevented from reaching the podium a second time by multiple-time Greco world team member Joe Rau. Ward returned from an extensive layoff last year and has won three-straight fights. The recent streak has pushed his professional record to 17-6.

     

    Michael Blockhus vs. Eli Mefford

    Blockhus started his college career at Northern Iowa before ending up at Minnesota. He qualified for the NCAA tournament in all four seasons as a starter. This past season, Blockhus finished 8th at 149 pounds to become an All-American. Despite having one more season of eligibility, Blockhus announced quickly that he was making the transition to MMA. This will be his debut.

    From 2017 to 2021, Mefford went 8-5 in amateur MMA, but he has found the competition much more challenging on the professional level. Since making his debut in August 2021, he has lost all four of his fights.

     

    Jordan Oliver vs. Andrew Triolo

    Oliver, the 33-year-old wrestler, is getting a bit of a late start to his MMA career. He was a two-time NCAA champion who exhausted his eligibility in 2013. He then became a regular on the freestyle circuit. He finished in the top two at four different U.S. Opens and won the 65 kg title at the 2019 edition of the tournament. In 2021, he won the Olympic Trials at the same weight, but failed to qualify the weight for the Games. He last wrestled against Zain Retherford at the 2022 Final X, where he dropped the three-match series. Last March, he announced he signed with Bellator and this will be his MMA debut.

    Triolo made his professional MMA debut last year and failed to make it out of the first round against Adamu Isah on the LFA 128 undercard. Per Tapology, that was his only fight to date. 

     

    Sullivan Cauley vs. Hamza Salim

    Cauley was a three-time state placer in his native Nevada, and he continued his wrestling career at Arizona State. He bounced between heavyweight and 197 during his time in Tempe between 2014 and 2017. The Ryan Bader protege is 5-1 in MMA and looking to bounce back after losing for the first time this past March. 

    Salim holds a 7-6 record as a professional. He previously fought twice for Bellator in 2020 and dropped a pair of matches against Grant Neal and Christian Edwards. 

    The Storley vs. Ward fight will serve as the main event of Bellator 298, which airs live on Showtime at 9:00pm ET. The rest of the wrestlers will be part of the preliminary card set to begin at 6:00pm ET on the promotion’s YouTube page. 

     

    Saturday: Brave CF 73

    Zach Makovsky vs. Flavio de Queiroz

    Following an extensive high school wrestling career at Bethlehem Catholic, Makovsky walked onto the wrestling team at Drexel. There he was a four-year starter and finished his career in 2006; the same year he made his professional MMA debut. In 2010, Makovsky won an eight-man tournament to become the inaugural Bellator bantamweight champion. He signed with the UFC in 2013, but he went only 1-4 before being released in 2016. Since then, he has gone 2-2, and his record stands at 21-11. 

    De Queiroz picked up a victory over Igor Taylon last year. That victory stopped a two-fight skid and pushed his overall MMA record to 13-4. 

    The event will go down on Saturday in Bogota, Colombia. The bout will be part of the main card, which airs live on YouTube at 8:00pm ET. 

     

    Saturday: United Fight League 3

    Ryan Loder vs. Lajuan Davis

    Loder was a four-time NCAA qualifier for Northern Iowa. In 2013, he broke through with a seventh-place finish at 184 pounds to become an All-American. Loder continued to wrestle on the freestyle circuit and placed at the 2015 U.S. Open. He made his professional MMA debut in 2021 and has so far gone 5-1 in the sport.

    Davis holds an undefeated 5-0 record. In March he scored a decision victory over Zak Borrego who previously lost against Bo Nickal on Dana White’s Contender Series.

     

    Chris Mecate vs. Canaan Kawaihae

    Mecate wrestled for the now-defunct Old Dominion program. He was a four-time NCAA qualifier and a two-time All-American. He finished school in 2016 with a 141-51 collegiate record. Mecate turned professional in MMA in 2020. He lost his second fight, but he has bounced back with a winning streak. Mecate’s record currently stands at 6-1.

    Kawaihae has gone 8-2 and previously fought for both Bellator and Dana White’s Contender Series. Unfortunately, both of his losses came on the Contender Series, and he has yet to receive a shot in the UFC. 

    UFL 3 will stream live on Rumble at 9:00pm ET. 

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