The Penn State MMA takeover didn’t stop with Bo Nickal and Jimmy Lawson, as National Champion Anthony Cassar has dual belt dreams and the wind at his back heading into his professional MMA debut.
In the last ten years, Penn State has hung eight National Championship banners. Every year, the top names at each division have to go through Nittany Lions to etch their name in history, and more often than not, they come up short.
Winning isn’t enough for Penn State; consistent greatness is the goal.
“We’re greedy,” Cassar laughed. “We want it all.”
They want it all, and seem to get what they want for the most part, but the success is starting to bleed into other avenues. Wrestlers seem to be having just as much success in budding MMA careers as they did on the wrestling mats.
It kind of makes you wonder if it’s the wrestlers or the system around them.
“It’s exciting to prove that the system of our coaches and everyone involved in the Penn State program works, and the mentality that we have going into the competition and training,” Cassar said. “It’s exciting to prove that it can translate to anything. More importantly, the stuff that Penn State teaches works in life. We’ve had a lot of guys that are successful in business and just as human beings. I think that’s the most exciting thing is showing that it can work in any arena.”
We’re a handful of years removed from his NCAA career, and Cassar still calls Happy Valley home. Same wrestling room, same coaches, same Bo Nickal training next to him. With some of the most successful veterans of all-time sharing mats with the reigning National Champions, it looks like the rich are going to keep getting richer in central Pennsylvania.
“There’s only like 12-15 guys in the NLWC, which is what we’re a part of, and the college team has like 37-40 guys, so whoever’s showing up,” Cassar explained. “Right now, we’re doing combo practices, but then we’ll split back up soon. Anywhere from 18 to 40, all scrapping.”
The focus in the world-class training facility will always be wrestling, but thanks to Dan Lambert and American Top Team, fighters from Penn State will no longer have to leave the area to find an MMA camp as elite as the Nittany Lion Wrestling Club.
“It’s the best place to wrestle. Period,” Cassar said. “Outside of that, if you have goals of being an Olympic champ or UFC champ, it’s by far the best stop. You’re going to have the best wrestlers, the best coaches, teammates, atmosphere, mindset at American Top Team Happy Valley. That’s going to develop stronger and stronger over the years and become the ultimate powerhouse. It’s going to be a no-brainer for young wrestlers coming up.”
We’ve seen Nickal in action and Cassar isn’t making us wait long to find out what he’s made of. Skipping an amateur career, Cassar plans to start taking heads early and often. If he’s half as impressive as his longtime friend, Cassar will be the talk of the UFC universe in one year.
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