2009 heavyweight NCAA champion Mark Ellis has reportedly signed with Zinkin Entertainment and joined American Kickboxing Academy with the intention of starting an MMA career.
Last weeks news broke that Ellis had been training with UFC heavyweight contender Cain Velasquez for his upcoming bout with Brock Lesnar. Now, MMAweekly is reporting Ellis will begin a fighting career himself.
In 2009, Ellis became Missouri’s second-ever national champion, Ben Askren being the first. He entered the NCAA Division I national tournament as the second seed and won five straight matches to earn the title. In the championship match, he defeated Duke’s Konrad Dudziak with a 3-2 overtime victory.
Ellis spent the fall working with the Tiger’s football team, and did not have nearly as impressive senior wrestling season. He finished the season with a 22-13 record and a sixth place finish at the NCAA tournament. Ellis announced his intentions to pursue a fighting career immediately following the event in an interview with FloWrestling.org.
After College, Ellis once again tried his hand at football. He attended the Cleveland Browns mini-camp before ultimately settling on MMA. Browns head coach, Eric Mangini routinely invites heavyweight wrestlers to summer camps after the success of the Patriots’ Stephen Neal.
Ellis joins AKA’s heavyweight stable, which already includes Velasquez and Olympian Daniel Cormier.
Mark Ellis (Missouri) vs. Pat Gilmore (Maryland)