Ed Ruth, one of the most decorated college wrestlers in U.S. history, will pursue a career in professional MMA.
The three-time national wrestling champion said he intends to make his MMA debut in early 2017 after the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
“Once the Olympics are over, I want to go straight into fighting,” Ruth told Bleacher Report in an exclusive interview. “I can’t wait to just get in there and be in that atmosphere and walk out with the belt.”
The moment he sets foot in an MMA cage, Ruth would immediately become one of the two or three best wrestlers ever to compete there.
While attending Penn State University, Ruth, 24, compiled a 140-3 record, winning three NCAA titles and earning All-American honors in all four of his active seasons. Already a member of the U.S. national team, Ruth is preparing to represent America as a freestyle wrestler in the 2016 Olympic Games. As Team USA’s top-ranked wrestler at 86 kilograms (189 pounds), he is the favorite to secure that spot.
On first exposure to MMA, Ruth admits he was not a big fan. But the more he came to know it, the more he gravitated toward it. Ruth also acknowledged the career path MMA provides for top wrestlers, a path that wasn’t available a generation ago.
“I started watching it, and it’s a really cool sport,” Ruth said. “I’ve always wanted to do boxing and karate. You can win in any type of way. I just caught the bug. … It’s been something that wrestlers have needed. What do you do after the Olympics? You could coach. But there was really no professional outlook. But now we have MMA. Now we have choices.”
Though Ruth has no extensive training in any combat sport outside of wrestling, wrestling is considered a cornerstone skill of MMA and should give him a big leg up right out of the gate. So, too, will the training team he’d like to join: the vaunted Greg Jackson-Mike Winkeljohn camp in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Continue reading