There’s no better bonding experience for the Iowa State Cyclones than getting together for a good ol’ fashioned fight night.
Hollywood can make as many movies as they want about football practices, but few things can top the unforgiving grind of an NCAA wrestling season. Teams regularly dabble in other activities before practice just to keep the morale up. Campbell University has slam ball, Penn State has dodgeball, the list goes on and on.
It takes a strong leader, a special bond amongst the athletes and a heck of a distraction to keep a team with their nose to the grindstone from October to late March. Fortunately for David Carr and Iowa State, there’s MMA.
“One of the coolest things I think we do as a team, every big card we come together at one of the wrestlers’ houses and we’ll all chip in, we’ll buy it and we’ll just watch the fights and hang out,” Carr said. “We get some food, some snacks, and we’ll all just sit and watch the fights. it’s awesome.”
With a bunch of wrestlers crowded around a TV, it isn’t long at all before chairs are pushed aside, and watching turns to rolling. If walls could talk, the most notorious tapper on the team would be revealed because you can’t have a bunch of ground experts not trying on their metaphorical gis every now and then.
“During the commercial breaks we’re doing Jiu jitsu and fighting each other,” Carr said. “It’s kind of funny.”
Carr recalls watch parties packed wall to wall, 40 deep of fight fans catching all the action. As it would turn out, even Coach Dresser has been known to stop by every so often. It may not compare to wrestling for Dresser, but he’ll go quite the distance to make sure the guys on the team don’t miss any fights they don’t have to.
“I don’t know if [Dresser] enjoys it that much,” Carr laughed. “I know he’ll catch a fight every once in a while, but he knows how much we love it. One time we were waiting for a lift and he let us put on the fights in the wrestling room on the TV. I know he knows how much we love it.”
As if the boys in Ames didn’t have enough reason to love the sport, it’s starting to feel like “wrestling vs everybody” with the rise of familiar faces like Bo Nickal, legends like Daniel Cormier and active standouts such as Henry Cejudo.
Even the members of the team who have no interest in the finer touches of a Tony Ferguson rubber guard, it’s hard not to rally around icons of their sport carrying the wrestling flag with them into the Octagon.
Carr has even watched as the wrestling community as a whole has rallied around MMA. Even in the heart of battle, it’s not uncommon for wrestlers to find themselves bonding over the sport.
“I know wrestling fans are passionate, and we watch it,” Carr said. “I don’t even remember where I was, either Big 12 or Nationals, I think it was Nationals, we all watched Jon Jones’ comeback when he took out Ciryl Gane. It was like he didn’t miss a beat and we’re all watching in our room. I remember Aaron Brooks from Penn State, Roman Bravo Young, they all came into our room with just a bunch of wrestlers. We were all just sitting around a little computer screen because we couldn’t get it on the TV. We’re like, ‘this is crazy, we’re getting ready to wrestle and go to war tomorrow but we got to make sure we catch the fight.’”
The intoxicating aura of the UFC’s bright lights, in addition to the most solid base you can have in the sport of MMA, admittedly has Carr considering a career with four-ounce gloves after wrestling, but he’s not ready to commit just yet.
“We spar and I love doing things like that, especially if I’m with Roman [Bravo-Young] or I’m with some of the guys and doing Jiu jitsu and sparring and boxing and stuff,” Carr said. “That stuff is really fun for me; I love learning it. I think it could be cool to at least learn it. It would be cool at least trying out MMA.”
Until then, enjoy the last ride for David Carr in the Iowa State singlet.
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