2012 NCAA All-American Austin Trotman (photo courtesy of Tony Rotundo; WrestlersAreWarriors.com)
While this weekend does not have as many former wrestlers in action, there are still plenty of fights as always. The slate this weekend includes several former wrestlers who have already made their names in the sport as well as some hoping to break through and make it to the next level.
Friday: LFA 139
Gavin Teasdale vs. Freddie Rodriguez
Teasdale was a four-time Pennsylvania state champion in high school and finished his run with a 162-2 record. He spent time at both Penn State and Iowa before eventually moving on from wrestling. Teasdale made his amateur MMA debut in February and scored a decision victory over Tyler Fry. He was originally scheduled to make his professional debut that same month but the bout fell apart. He will now face Rodriguez in his first professional fight.
Rodriguez won an NJCAA title at Iowa Lake Community College, spent some time at Oklahoma and eventually became a two-time NCAA qualifier for Southern Illinois Edwardsville. He fought seven times as an amateur, including a bout while he was an active college wrestler, before making his professional debut earlier this year. Rodriguez defeated Moshun Scott in his debut in February and followed that up with a stoppage over Victor Guarriello last month.
The bout will headline the preliminary portion of LFA 139, which is set to begin at 8:00pm on the promotion's Facebook page.
Saturday: Combat Night Pro: Tallahassee
Austin Trotman vs. J.P. Saint Louis
Trotman was a four-time NCAA qualifier and three-time SoCon champ for Appalachian State. He won 129 matches in his college career and finished third at the 2012 NCAA tournament. Trotman made his MMA debut in 2020 and has built a 3-1 record. This will be his first fight since he dropped a fight against Joseph Pyfer via second-round knockout last December. Saint Louis has been fighting professionally since 2015 and has a 7-4 record.
The event will be available via Internet pay-per-view at 5:00pm ET.
Saturday: PFL 9 2022
Bubba Jenkins vs. Ryoji Kudo
For the second year in a row, Jenkins finds himself in the semifinals of PFL's featherweight tournament. This year he picked up victories over Kyle Bochniak and Reinaldo Ekson to advance out of the regular season. Since turning professional in 2011, he has built an 18-5 record.
Jenkins began his collegiate wrestling career at Penn State. For the Nittany Lions, he qualified for three NCAA tournaments and finished second in 2008 to become an All-American. For his final year, he transferred to Arizona State and won an NCAA title in 2011. In the finals, he scored a dramatic fall over Penn State's David Taylor.
Kudo came up in Japan's Shooto organization and signed with PFL for this season. He split his two regular season bouts and currently holds an 11-3-1 record.
The bout will kick off the main card of PFL 9 2002, which will air live from London on ESPN at 3:00pm ET.
Saturday: UFC 278
Kamaru Usman vs. Leon Edwards
Usman started wrestling as a sophomore in high school. By the time he was a senior, he was placing in the Texas state tournament. Usman then continued his wrestling career on the collegiate level. He spent his freshman season at NAIA William Penn before settling in at Nebraska Kearney. At the Division II school, he was a three-time All-American and won the 174-pound title in 2010.
In the main event of UFC 278, Usman will put his welterweight title on the line against Edwards. The two fought previously in 2015 with Usman taking a decision victory. Since that loss, Edwards has won nine-straight fights.
Merab Dvalishvili vs. Jose Aldo
Dvalishvili moved to the U.S. to train for MMA and did not compete in wrestling at the collegiate level, but he is perhaps the most brazen wrestler in the sport today. He averages a whopping 7.30 takedowns per 15 minutes, which is by far the highest takedown rate among top fighters. Wrestling fans will likely appreciate his gameplan even if it might not work out for him against Aldo. The former featherweight champion has stopped 90% of the takedowns he has faced in the UFC, but that will certainly be put to the test here.
Alexander Romanov vs. Marcin Tybura
Romanov wrestled extensively for his native Moldova on the international level. He won a bronze medal at the 2016 World University Championships and represented the country at both the 2014 and 2019 World Championships. Despite making his UFC debut in 2020, Romanov attempted to qualify for the last Olympics via the Olympic Qualification Tournament but came up short. In the Octagon he has won all five of his fights including his last bout against Chase Sherman where he did not absorb a single strike before finishing via submission.
Tybura will represent a step up in competition for Romanov. He has been competing in the UFC since 2016 and has a 22-7 record overall. In his last fight, Tybura dropped a decision against former Bellator champion Alexander Volkov. Prior to that loss, Tybura has won five-straight fights.
All three of these fights will be part of the main card of UFC 278, which airs live on ESPN+ pay-per-view at 10:00pm ET.