Tyrell Fortune competing in freestyle (photos courtesy of Tony Rotundo; WrestlersAreWarriors.com)
The college wrestling season has returned, and there are seemingly matches every day now. However, that does not stop the MMA conveyor belt. This weekend several former wrestlers will be in action. The Bellator 288 show on Friday in particular features multiple former All-Americans. Check out a preview of the former wrestlers in the MMA world below.
Friday: Bellator 288
Corey Anderson vs. Vadmin Nemkov
Anderson's collegiate wrestling career began at Lincoln College where he was an NJCAA All-American. He then made a stop at Newberry College, before eventually finding a home at Wisconsin-Whitewater. As a senior at the Division III school, he went 46-5 and finished second.
This will be the second time Anderson has faced off against Nemkov with the Bellator light heavyweight title on the line. The two fought to a "no contest" after an accidental headbutt earlier this year. Anderson went 10-5 in the UFC from 2014 to 2020. He then signed with Bellator where he has won all three of his fights and finds himself with a shot at the title.
Tyrell Fortune vs. Daniel James
Fortune was a two-time NJCAA champion at Clackamas and eventually transferred to Grand Canyon. At the new school, he won an NCAA Division II title. Fortune also excelled in both freestyle and Greco, as he came one match away from picking up a pair of bronze medals at the 2013 World University Games.
He is currently 12-2 in MMA after making his professional debut in 2016. In his last fight, Fortune stopped Rakim Cleveland in the first round. James holds a 13-6-1 record and is currently riding a three-fight winning streak. This will be his first Bellator fight since his professional debut in 2014.
Jordan Newman vs. Jayden Taulker
Newman is a former D3Wrestle.com wrestler of the year. He was a two-time NCAA Division III champion and a three-time All-American for Wisconsin-Whitewater. Newman signed with Bellator and made his professional MMA debut in 2019. He has since built a 4-0 record and is coming off a decision win over Cody Herbert.
His opponent, Taulker has fought four times this year. He split a pair of MMA fights and lost a pair of boxing matches. His last fight came in the boxing ring where he lost this past June via third-round knockout against Taylor Bohrer.
Isaiah Hokit vs. Mattias Nader
Hokit started his collegiate wrestling career at Drexel before transferring to Fresno State. In his final year in the lineup, he went 2-2 at the Big 12 tournament and finished short of qualifying for the NCAA tournament. Per WrestleStat, his final college record was 39-33. Hokit had a tough start to his MMA career as he was quickly stopped by Corey Samuels. However, he bounced back this past February with his first professional win over Theodore Macuka.
On Friday, he faces off against Matias Nader, who holds a 3-0 professional record. He made his debut in 2020 but did not return to action until April of this year.
Archie Colgan vs. Jesse Hannam
Colgan won over 100 matches as a four-year starter for Wyoming. He made the NCAA tournament in both 2017 and 2018. As a junior in 2017, he made the round of 12, but ultimately finished just one match short of All-American status. Colgan turned to MMA in 2021. He currently has a 5-0 record. In his last fight, he returned to Bellator and scored a third-round stoppage over Bryan Nuro.
Hannam will be making his Bellator debut after going 2-1 on smaller shows. He last fought in 2021 where he scored a first-round ground and pound stoppage over Casey Goulet.
Sullivan Cauley vs. Jay Radick
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. Cauley currently trains under Bellator heavyweight champion and fellow former Arizona State wrestler Ryan Bader. He is now 4-0 as a professional with all of his fights coming in Bellator.
Radick will be making his Bellator debut. He turned professional in 2018 and has built a 3-0 record. Radick has not fought since winning via submission over Sua Tuani in 2019.
Anderson and Fortune are scheduled to fight on the Bellator 288 main card, which will air live on Showtime at 9:00pm ET. The rest of the wrestlers will be part of the preliminary card set to kick off on the Bellator YouTube page at 6:00pm ET.
Saturday: UFC Vegas 65
Vince Morales vs. Miles Johns
Morales began wrestling in high school at Ontario High School in Oregon. He reportedly failed to win a match as a freshman, but won a state title as a senior. He has been fighting in the UFC since joining the promotion in 2018 and has an overall 11-6 MMA record.
Johns was a Kansas 5A state champion on the high school level. He continued his wrestling career at the NCAA Division II level at Newman University, but reportedly dropped out due to injury. Johns currently holds a 12-2 record as a professional and has been with the UFC since winning a spot via the Contenders Series in 2019.
The fight between Morales and Johns will be part of the undercard, which is set to begin at 1L00pm ET on ESPN+.