Gwiazdowski rolls by Gadson in featured match at Wrestling Underground

Kyven Gadson and Nick Gwiazdowski face off after weighing in for Wrestling Underground (Photo/Wrestling Underground)

It was another golden opportunity for fans to view another high-level wrestling competition.

Sunday night's Wrestling Underground event, held at an undisclosed location in the Pacific Northwest, featured a six-match Senior-level card.

Wrestling Underground collaborated with former UFC competitor and U.S. Greco-Roman National Team member Chael Sonnen to host the event. It was streamed on UFC Fight Pass.

Matches were held inside a cage, simulating the setup for a mixed martial arts event.

It was the third wrestling show that has been shown online since the COVID-19 global pandemic shut down numerous sports in March.

Here is my breakdown from the evening's matches:

Tyler Berger vs. Joey McKenna (159 pounds)

This was an interesting matchup between two NCAA runner-up finishers. Berger wrestled two weight classes higher than McKenna in college.

Berger shot in early and scored on a double-leg takedown. He followed with a second double later in the opening period while enjoying a size advantage over McKenna.

Down 6-0, McKenna fought back for a takedown with a leg attack midway through the second period. Berger came back with a counter and takedown late in the bout to prevail 8-2. The size difference appeared to weigh heavily in Berger's favor against a high-level freestyle wrestler in McKenna.

RaVaughn Perkins vs. Ben Provisor (180 pounds)

The lone Greco-Roman match on the card featured a two-time Olympian in Provisor against a past World Team member in Perkins. And it was an entertaining bout to watch.

Perkins came out strong, launching Provisor with a spectacular five-point throw in the match's first minute. Provisor came right back with a body-lock that resulted in four points.

Perkins followed with a beautiful arm throw before Provisor came back with a flurry of points. Provisor executed a gut-wrench to take a 10-9 lead late in the first period.

The pace slowed down considerably in the second period as the athletes looked for an edge. There was no scoring after the first period and Provisor prevailed 10-9.

Shakur Rasheed vs. Sammy Brooks (190 pounds)

Rasheed came out strong with a single-leg shot and finished for a quick early takedown. Rasheed followed with another finish and takedown to lead 4-0 just a minute into the bout between past college All-Americans. Brooks came back with a strong counter, spinning behind for a takedown to draw within 4-2.

Brooks came back with a leg attack and takedown to tie it 4-4 early in the second period. Brooks followed with another single and TD to take a 6-4 lead with 1:19 left. Brooks then used the fence to his advantage, dropping to a double-leg attack to take an 8-4 lead in the final minute. Rasheed scored a late takedown, but was unable to gain a turn as time ran out. Brooks came out on top 8-6 in a fast-paced, action-packed match.

Deron Winn vs. Kollin Moore (213 pounds)

Winn had retired from wrestling, but the UFC fighter came back for a bout with Moore. Winn had an excellent career in wrestling and has gone on to excel in mixed martial arts.

A standout at Ohio State, Moore is a promising freestyle wrestler who is now competing on the Senior level.

Moore scored on a leg attack and shot-clock point to go up 3-0 early. Moore shot in for two more takedowns en route to a decisive 7-0 win.

Tommy Gantt vs. David McFadden (185 pounds)

The wrestlers were involved in some hard-fought scrambles early before Gantt struck first with a takedown two minutes into the match. McFadden fought back with a textbook shot and finish to tie it. McFadden added a two-point leg lace just before time ran out to lead 4-2 at the break.

McFadden carried his momentum over into the second period. He powered in on another leg attack to lead 8-2. Gantt scored a late takedown, but McFadden earned an 8-4 victory.

Main event: Nick Gwiazdowski vs. Kyven Gadson (heavyweight)

Gadson, a past NCAA champion, bumped up a weight class to battle Gwiazdowski, a two-time world bronze medalist, in the featured bout that didn't make it through the first period.

Gadson fired in on an early leg attack, but the larger Gwiz countered for a quick early takedown. The athletic Gwiz shot in on a textbook leg attack and followed with a turn to lead 6-0. He added another shot and TD to take a commanding 8-0 advantage. Gwiz came back to record a fourth takedown to win 10-0 on technical superiority.

Gwiz looked powerful and fast in a dominating performance while enjoying a noticeable size advantage over Gadson.

Final thoughts

We haven't seen much live wrestling over the past six months, so it was great to have actual matches to watch between quality competitors. It was cool having this in a mixed-martial arts cage, but it looked like the wrestlers kept running out of room and needed a bigger area to compete in. There were times when a wrestler scored a takedown, but couldn't follow with a gut-wrench while running into the fence.

It also was interesting that there weren't any coaches in the corners of the athletes. I wouldn't have minded having a Shane Sparks or Jason Bryant providing play-by-play while Chael Sonnen did the color. I also would have liked to have seen some women's matches on the card. They announced the winners after the bouts, but I would have liked to have seen the wrestlers introduced before the matches.

It was a unique and interesting format, and it provided us a chance to watch some Senior-level wrestling. Kudos to the UFC and Chael Sonnen for giving us another opportunity to see live matches. It was good to watch wrestling again. I would be interested to see a wrestling event in a cage when fans are allowed into the venue to watch.

Craig Sesker has written about wrestling for more than three decades. He's covered three Olympic Games, written 10 books and is a two-time national wrestling writer of the year.


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michaelmidiri (2) about 3 months ago
I think wrestling could benefit greatly from using MMA stars to attract more fans. There are so many MMA guys, even ones without significant wrestling backgrounds, that have spent years training takedowns at a very high level and with top coaches and training partners. Obviously there are guys like Georges St. Pierre, Khabib Nurmagomedov, and many others who can wrestle well. Why not put them up against wrestlers, maybe modify the rules slightly to level the playing field, and put on a show?
ban basketball (1) about 3 months ago
Not a bad idea, actually.

To then make it REALLY fun (just for the sake of watching the thumpings), set up punching (or, as they say in MMA, "striking") bouts only between wrestlers and MMA fighters! I WOULD pay for that!
saeed20 (1) about 3 months ago
saeed20 (1) about 3 months ago
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