Lance Palmer at the 2007 NCAA Championships (photo/Tony Rotundo; WrestlersAreWarriors.com)
The InterMat Wrestling Fan's Guide to the MMA Weekend is back once again. As always, there is plenty of MMA action across the globe this weekend, and that means there are also several former wrestlers campaigning in their new sport of choice.
On Friday, former Minnesota State Moorhead wrestler Tim Johnson takes on Valentin Moldavsky in the main event of Bellator 261 with the promotion's interim heavyweight title on the line. While Wikipedia, and a variety of other sources, label Johnson a two-time Division II All-American, that does not appear to be the case. The heavyweight did wrestle in the NCAA tournament twice while competing for the Dragons, but per the brackets, he went 0-2 in 2009 and 1-2 as a senior in 2010.
In addition to the main event, the Bellator card features a variety of former wrestlers. Recent Fresno State competitor Isaiah Hokit will make his MMA debut against Corey Samuels. Hokit went 28-25 for the Bulldogs during their revival in the 2018 and 2019 seasons.
Taylor Johnson wrestled for both Oregon State and Southern Oregon. He was a three-time NAIA All-American and a 2014 champion. Johnson has faced off against fellow wrestlers in his last two fights as he stunned multiple-time NCAA champion, Ed Ruth, via submission and dropped a decision against former Missouri wrestler Johnny Eblen. He faces Lance Wright on Saturday.
Jaylon Bates and Cody Matthews have only four combined fights, but their fight on the undercard will also feature plenty of wrestling experience from the high school level. Bates was a Nevada state champion. In 2015, he made the Freakshow finals and picked up a victory over current Oklahoma wrestler Troy Mantanona along the way . Matthews was a four-time Maryland state placer. He made the finals in 2015 before coming up short against current Maryland starter Danny Bertoni. Matthews also finished seventh at NHSCA Freshman Nationals in 2012.
Sidney Outlaw, who wrestled for Souderton Area Senior High School in Pennsylvania, is also set to face off against UFC veteran Myles Jury on the main card.
Bellator 261 takes place Friday night with the preliminary card airing live on YouTube at 6:30pm ET and the main card starting at 9:00pm ET on Showtime.
PFL 2021 #6
Lance Palmer returns to action for the first time since suffering an upset against collegiate rival Bubba Jenkins. The former Ohio State wrestler who was a four-time All-American and finalist will take on Movlid Khaybulaev. Once again, Palmer will be dealing with a fellow wrestler as Khaybulaev came up wrestling freestyle and is a protege of former UFC champion Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Jamelle Jones was a two-time NJCAA champion at both Meramec and North Idaho. He then transferred to Campbellsville, where he became an NAIA All-American . Jones faces off against Klidson Abreu in a heavyweight fight.
Mo DeReese was a Florida state champion in high school before choosing to play football at Central Florida. He is currently the head wrestling coach at Astronaut High. DeReese will reach for the stars against Bruno Cappelozza in another heavyweight bout.
The preliminary card of the PFL event airs live on ESPN+ at 6:30pm ET. The show then moves to ESPN2 for the main card at 10:00pm ET.
UFC Fight Night
This weekend's UFC event is somewhat light on former wrestlers. However, there are still a few scheduled for the card. Yancy Medeiros placed third in the Hawaii state tournament in high school and is set to face Damir Hadzovic at lightweight. Also on the card, Justin Jaynes faces off against Charles Rosa. Jaynes was a state finalist in Michigan before coming up short against fellow UFC fighter Drakkar Klose. He continued his wrestling career at Division III Olivet College before starting his fighting career.
The entire UFC card will be broadcast on ESPN+ starting at 1:00pm ET.
Kaszuma Kuramoto was a regular on the Japanese Greco scene for years before making his MMA debut in 2017. He won silver medals at the 2008 World University Championships and the 2012 Asian Championships and also represented Japan at the 2013 and 2014 World Championships. Kuramoto also regularly competed at the Dave Schultz and Sunkist Kids tournaments, so he has had his fair share of matches against the likes of Spenser Mango and Joe Betterman.
Kuramoto is now 8-1 after winning his Rizin debut last December. He is set to face off against Alan Yoshihiro Yamaniha this weekend. Rizin 29 will air live as an internet pay-per-view on Sunday morning at 12:30am ET.