Kyle Dake: MMA career possible after Olympics

Kyle Dake warming up at the 2019 World Championships in Nur-Sultan (Photo/Tony Rotundo,

Four-time NCAA wrestling champ and two-time world titlewinner Kyle Dake is preparing to wrestle freestyle at the 2020 Summer Olympics ... but he's apparently entertaining the idea of competing in mixed martial arts beyond the Tokyo Games.

The former Cornell University wrestler posted a brief video on Instagram, hitting pads with a trainer, with this caption: "Slowly getting the hang of using my hands. Still sloppy but I'm realizing that striking and wrestling are more similar than I thought. After #tokyo2020 we will see what happens."

Dake's MMA striking demonstration has generated some buzz within the worlds of amateur wrestling and MMA.

InterMat's T.R. Foley was asked about Dake's video clip in his weekly Foley's Friday Mailbag feature on December 20. Here's how the former University of Virginia wrestler-turned-InterMat senior writer responded:

"I think he's stating that there is a likelihood after 2020, and I'd almost bet he takes that opportunity.

"I also think he's going to be very, very, very successful as long as he spends time learning to strike and grapple. The wrestling style he has is similar to [Daniel] Cormier [an NCAA finalist, Olympic wrestler, and MMA champ himself] in that his upper body strength and positioning would be a nightmare for most people in the clinch. Non-wrestlers have adapted to leg takedowns in a number of ways, but none have really learned to stop upper body clinches and mat returns from the fence.

"Oh, and he's an outrageously great competitor who is mentally tough and in it to battle ..."

MMA writers weigh in on Dake's cage prospects

Jordan Ellis, writing for, seemed a bit dismissive of Dake's striking videoclip at first:

"He didn't look all that great, he certainly won't be the next Muhammad Ali, but nonetheless a seed was planted about his potential as an MMA fighter ..." but then recounted the 28-year-old Dake's success in collegiate folkstyle as well as in international freestyle. Ellis then added, "Of course, he'd have plenty of work to do on that stand up but with his grappling credentials alone he'd beat a ton of 170lb fighters. A few years of work and there is no reason why he can't be competing with the best in the UFC. First things first though. He's got a gold medal to go win in Tokyo."

In his analysis of how mat phenom Kyle Dake might do in MMA, Ed Gallo of wrote, "As incredible as Dake's credentials are, it's even more fascinating to watch him wrestle. His greatest offensive tool in college was his incredible riding and top game. Early on, Dake leaned on his control positions to take close matches from the best in the country.

"But what really made Dake a must-watch for college fans was his otherworldly scrambling and defense. His head-and-hands 'first-line' of defense was elite, even at the time. And for opponents that managed to get to his legs, their battle had just begun. Dake has shown an unparalleled ability to defend singles in splits, somehow landing in stable positions -- even after the most textbook finishes by his opponents.

"That poise and flexibility is still there for Kyle Dake, but his transition to freestyle brought about a relatively new look -- explosive 'big move' offense ..."

Writing for, Andrew Richardson offered this analysis of Kyle Dake's MMA potential:

"I'm not trying to sell the clip above as impressive. It's a basic striker (in phenomenal shape) working the basics, and there's plenty to improve upon. Yet, the second Kyle Dake steps into a cage, he instantly has an argument as the most credentialed wrestler competing in mixed martial arts -- so any striking practice at all makes an already terrifying prospect even more scary ...

"Welterweights beware!"

In case you needed a reminder of Dake's greatness as a wrestler ...

Kyle Dake first made his presence felt on the wrestling mat at Lansing High School in upstate New York, winning two state wrestling titles. He then continued his wrestling career close to home at Cornell University, where he won a series of four NCAA and three EIWA (Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association) conference titles, starting at 141 pounds in 2010 ... then claiming a second national championship in 2011, this time at 149 ... followed by conference and national titles at 157 in 2012 ... and concluding his Big Red wrestling career with the 165-pound crown at the 2013 EIWAs and NCAAs. With that, Dake became only the fourth collegiate wrestler to win four NCAA Division I titles ... and the first (and, so far, only) D1 mat champ to claim four titles in four different weight classes.

Dake closed out his collegiate wrestling career with a number of honors, including being named WIN Magazine Dan Hodge Trophy winner ... InterMat Wrestler of the Year ... and Sports Illustrated Male College Athlete of the Year, all in 2013.

In addition, Dake is a two-time World freestyle champion, earning gold medals at 79 kilograms/173.8 pounds at the 2018 World Championships in Budapest, Hungary in 2018 ... and at the 2019 Worlds in Nur-Sultan, Kazakstan this past fall. He also earned gold at the 2018 World Cup in Iowa City.


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Oricalde21 (1) about 11 months ago
Dake didn’t win 4 EIWA titles, Bucknell intervened.
IdeaMark (2) about 11 months ago
Thanks! The mistake has been corrected.
Mark Palmer
Senior Writer, InterMat
reeree (1) about 11 months ago
So great to see him in the match
Iceacea (1) about 11 months ago
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