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Shane Sparks Calls Bravo-Young A Generational Talent | UFC FIGHT PASS

After Over A Decade Of Collegiate Wrestling Commentary, Shane Sparks Thought He Had Seen It All Until He Saw Roman Bravo-Young.

It seems like the entire country was watching Penn State’s Roman Bravo-Young throughout his NCAA career, but few people had a better seat than fan-favorite play-by-play commentator Shane Sparks.

Sitting matside since 2011, Sparks has provided the soundtrack to plenty of superstars’ biggest moments. From Jordan Burroughs to David Taylor to Kyle Dake and many more, Sparks has seen his fair share of generational talents and says that few wrestlers have immediately grabbed him the way Roman Bravo-Young did.

Sparks recalls a moment that led him to jump on the RBY hype train potentially too early, but with both the tangibles and the intangibles, RBY not only met, but exceeded, Sparks’ hype.

Watch The UFC FIGHT PASS Invitational 4 Live June 29

“I was doing a wrestling match with RBY at Wisconsin against Seth Gross,” Sparks recalled. “Seth Gross had won a National title at South Dakota State and I believe this was the last time, if not, one of the last times that RBY got beat before he got beat by Vito in the Finals. After he lost, they went to shake hands and RBY took his thumb and his index finger and basically said ‘I’m that close.’ He lost but he still said, ‘I was that close to beating you.’ I remember watching that and thinking that he has incredible self-belief. There are guys from an individual standpoint that could’ve been a lot better, but he is well spoken, he is good looking, he’s a kid that stood out to me. He hit all of the boxes.”

In addition to everything he did right off the mat, Sparks was also hooked by what he was capable of on the mat. Just when Sparks would think he’d seen all the finesse in the world, Bravo-Young would give him another reason to simply shrug and say, “he’s done it again.”

“He also brings the fancy footwork, and I remember one broadcast where I used the Muhammed Ali quote, ‘float like a butterfly, sting like a bee’ and that’s how he is. The creativity that he brought to a wrestling match was important. The way you do it all matters.”

As a fan of combat sports across the board. it doesn’t take much to get Sparks excited when a familiar face takes their skillset into another discipline, but he admits this is a different path than usual.

Wrestlers have a tendency to wrestle out their career and then dive into fighting as a passionless last resort when they’ve reached the end of their wrestling careers. It doesn’t take much to fire a wrestler up and lock in to an opponent but, in the past, it’s been rare to hear a wrestler with the prominence of Bravo-Young feel that they’re born to fight, as well as wrestle.

Watch The UFC FIGHT PASS Invitational 4 Live June 29

As time goes on and more wrestlers grow up with the UFC being the soundtrack to their Saturday nights, we’ll continue to see more Bo Nickals and more Roman Bravo-Youngs making statements, as opposed to “trying it out.”

With the years of proof that Bravo-Young has given Sparks and the rest of us over the years, the voice of the Big Ten explains that RBY is geared up to be one of the greatest combat athletes alive.

“He’s a phenomenal athlete,” Sparks enthusiastically explained. “He’s a different type of gifted. I would bet on him to be successful in the long term.”

Sparks can easily point to his national titles, his fame, his backflips or his scrambles when explaining what makes wrestlers like Roman Bravo-Young so successful, but what Sparks admires most is what the fight community and grappling community should embrace. His ambition.

Three months after his final wrestling match as a Nittany Lion, he throws on the rash guard to compete against a top ten UFC flyweight with seven submissions to his name. Athletes like NCAA wrestlers don’t grow on trees.

“Guys like RBY, they don’t want the easy path,” Sparks said. “They want to challenge and test themselves and see what their highest potential is. I think it is awesome. The great ones don’t want the easy way, they want to challenge themselves. If you were to ask me that question, I would ask how long did it take RBY to respond, five seconds or 10 seconds? If he is by his phone, it won’t take long because that is just how he is and thinks, and that is why he is one of the greats. He is going to go on and do big things.”

Regardless of the outcome, Sparks plans to continue following Bravo-Young’s career wherever it takes him. As unpredictable as RBY is on the mat, immediately stepping out of his comfort zone on the biggest combat sports platform under the sun is exactly the kind of move Sparks would expect from the consummate competitor.

Do not miss the submission grappling debut of Penn State legend Roman Bravo-Young at the FIGHT PASS Invitational 4, LIVE Thursday, June 29, ONLY on UFC FIGHT PASS!

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