Over the weekend, USA Wrestling hosted the U.S. Open in Cleveland. The event serves as the national championships at the senior level in the three Olympic wrestling styles, freestyle, Greco-Roman and women’s freestyle. Winners at the Open also receive a bye all the way to the finals at the 2011 World Team Trials that take place June 9-11 in Oklahoma City.
There are countless connections between MMA and the wrestling world. The “powers that be” at ProMMANow.com demanded that I break down some of the action for the average MMA fan. Here is my best attempt. For more information check out TheMat.com.
Volkmann Fails to Place
UFC lightweight contender Jacob Volkmann quietly returned to his roots and wrestled in the 74 kg/163 lbs Greco-Roman tournament. The former Minnesota All-American went 3-2, but failed to place. In the consolation bracket, he defeated 2011 NCAA All-American Bryce Saddoris from the Naval Academy. Then, Chad Hemerson eliminated him from the bracket with a 4-0, 2-0 victory.
Bunch Remains Thirsty For Gold
Team Thirsty member Shawn Bunch came in as the number-one seed. After former Ohio State All-American Reece Humphrey defeated Mike Zadick, it appeared as if Bunch’s path to an Open title was clear. However, in the final match, Humphrey fought back after dropping the first period 4-0 and won in three periods. Bunch and Humphrey are teammates at the Ohio Regional Training Center.
Younger Askren Brother Experiences Ups and Downs
During a recent interview on the Sherdog Radio Network, Bellator welterweight champion Ben Askren indicated that his younger brother, Max Askren was now the family’s hope to get back to the Olympics. The 2010 NCAA champion looked strong early as he defeated Olympian Andy Hrovat in the second round. However, in the semifinals, he came up short against his brother’s old rival Keith Gavin. Askren wrestled back through the consolation bracket to place fourth.
Betterman Solidifies Role as Warren’s Roadblock
Bellator featherweight champion Joe Warren has been adamant about his desire to wrestle in the 2012 Olympics. In order to make the U.S. team he will have to beat Joe Betterman. Since returning from a serious injury in 2010, Betterman has planted himself as the man to beat at 60 kg/132 lbs. He defeated the Army’s Jeremiah Davis in the finals.
Mango in the Army Now
Some observers thought Olympian Spenser Mango might come into this tournament rusty since he just returned to action at the Northeast Regionals. He took several months off for basic training after joining the U.S. Army’s World Class Athlete Program. However, Mango looked as sharp as ever. In the finals at 55 kg/121 lbs, he defeated Paul Tellgren 6-0, 6-0 with several highlight-reel throws. Mango is the type of guy who could make the UFC add the 125-pound division as soon as possible.
Future Challengers for Cris “Cyborg” Santos?
American wrestlers have been a force in MMA for years. However, a strong female wrestler is yet to make a huge impact. Also, Cris “Cyborg” Santos seems almost without challengers for her Strikeforce 145-pound title. 2010 world silver medalist Elena Pirozhkova continued her run at 63 kg/138.75 lbs with a finals victory over Kristie Davis. Former world team member Adeline Gray defeated Erin Clodgo in the final at 67 kg/147.5 lbs.
55 kg/121 lbs: Sam Hazewinkel (Sunkist Kids) dec. Troy Nickerson (New York AC), 6-0, 4-3
60 kg/132 lbs: Reece Humphrey (New York AC) dec. Shawn Bunch (Gator WC), 0-4, 1-0, 2-0
66 kg/145.5 lbs: Teyon Ware (Nittany Lion WC) dec. Cary Kolat (North Carolina RTC), 0-1, 5-0, 1-1
74 kg/163 lbs: Jordan Burroughs (Sunkist Kids) dec. Nick Marable (Sunkist Kids), 0-3, 1-0, 3-0
84 kg/185 lbs: Jake Herbert (New York AC) dec. Keith Gavin (Lehigh Valley AC), 2-2, 3-2
96 kg/211.5 lbs: Jake Varner (Nittany Lion WC) dec. Dan Erekson (Bronco WC), 7-0, 5-0
120 kg/264.5 lbs: Tervel Dlagnev (Sunkist Kids) dec. Steve Mocco (Lehigh Valley AC), 3-0, 1-0
55 kg/121 lbs: Spenser Mango (U.S. Army) dec. Paul Tellgren (Minnesota Storm), 6-0, 6-0
60 kg/132 lbs: Joe Betterman (U.S. Army) dec. Jeremiah Davis (U.S. Army), 0-1, 1-0, 1-0
66 kg/145.5 lbs: Harry Lester (U.S. Army) dec. Glenn Garrison (U.S. Army), 2-2, 1-0
74 kg/163 lbs: Ben Provisor (Sunkist Kids) dec. Jake Fisher (New York AC), 1-0, 2-0
84 kg/185 lbs: Jordan Holm (Minnesota Storm) dec. Cheney Haight (New York AC), 1-0, 0-1, 1-0
96 kg/211.5 lbs Justin Ruiz (New York AC) dec. Robbie Smith (New York AC), 1-0, 0-1, 4-0
120 kg/264.5 lbs: Dremiel Byers (U.S. Army) dec. Tim Taylor (U.S. Army), 2-0, 1-0
Women’s Freestyle Finals
48 kg/105.5 lbs: Clarissa Chun (Sunkist Kids) dec. Nicole Woody (OCU/Gator WC), 6-0, 6-0
51 kg/112.25 lbs: Whitney Conder (Gator WC) dec. Jessica Medina (Sunkist Kids), 1-0, 1-1
55 kg/121 lbs: Helen Maroulis (New York AC) dec. Kelsey Campbell (Sunkist Kids), 1-1, 2-0
59 kg/130 lbs: Deanna Rix (Sunkist Kids) dec. Amanda Hendey (San Diego Hot Beaches), 1-0, 3-0
63 kg/138.75 lbs: Elena Pirozhkova (Gator WC) dec. Kristie Davis (OCU/Gator WC), 1-0, 1-0
67 kg/147.5 lbs: Adeline Gray (New York AC) dec. Erin Clodgo (Sunkist Kids), 3-0, 2-0
72 kg/158.5 lbs: Ali Bernard (Gator WC) pinned Iris Smith (U.S. Army), 2-1, 1:12