It’s common for a high-level wrestler to see an opportunity in the world of mixed martial arts, but it’s the best of the best on the mat, in the cage and on the microphone who are rewarded with the best opportunities. Carter Starocci believes he was born with all the tools to make one of the biggest splashes in MMA history.
It comes as no shock when an NCAA wrestler comes to MMA and has immediate success. The ability for a high-level wrestler to control where the fight goes is yet to be countered by other disciplines, so when the highest-level wrestler with a lifetime of fighting in the streets transitions to MMA, it’s an animal yet to be seen.
Penn State’s Carter Starocci told the world following his third straight NCAA National Championship that wrestling fans should enjoy him now because after an Olympic run he’s trading in the singlet for four-ounce gloves.
The Erie, PA native knows he’ll have a leg up on every fighter in the lightweight and welterweight divisions he plans to dominate, based on just his wrestling alone, but assures everybody in MMA that the threat he poses to them isn’t simply based on his NCAA career. He’s been one of the most dangerous fighters out there since before he was knocking on the door of making good money doing so.
The impact Starocci’s father had on him spanned both his street fighting career, as well as his wrestling career. He watched his dad put about one punch’s worth of effort into altercations before walking away unscathed, but he also listened as his dad explained that the best wrestler isn’t the best fighter. You can be great at both, but not at the same time when you’re on the mat.
“I think what helped me with that was to be a great wrestler; fighting has nothing to do with that,” Starocci explained. “My dad would always tell me, ‘You’re not any tougher for fighting these kids in wrestling matches. You’re actually a lot weaker. Those are disqualification points. In order to be the best wrestler you have to be the best wrestler.'"
The lesson didn’t immediately impact Starocci, but once he got to high school and saw his potential, he dialed in and left the extracurricular antics for before or after the matches.
“In wrestling, you’ve got those fake tough guys who want to run their mouth and so I would fight those guys; I wouldn’t wrestle,” Starocci said. “I would box and I would kick them. If I needed wrestling, I would use that but I never really had to.”
Starocci’s street fighting skills and intensity alone would likely have been enough to land him in a cage somewhere. His wrestling would have likely been enough to get him a belt somewhere. Combine the two, as well as inspiration from the biggest star in the history of the sport, and we’ve got the future of the sport wearing a navy blue singlet.
“If guys were running their mouth I would always fight them,” Starocci said. “I always grew up around violence, and then watching the sport at a young age. Seeing Conor McGregor as he was rising, I was like, ‘I want to do that one day.’ I was obviously always good at wrestling, so I always knew I was going to go that route first and then go into MMA after.”
He called his shot with folkstyle wrestling and has been a hammer three straight years. It’s hard to pick against him in his upcoming Olympic run and with everything we now know about Carter Starocci, it’s the perfect time to adopt him as your future favorite fighter. Buy in now before he gets a chance to beat your current favorite fighter.