As a lifelong fan of NCAA wrestling and a man who has turned his job into promoting the sport on his “Stalemates” podcast, Zach Bogle knows a thing or two about the sport and the athletes who have made it the best kept secret in American sports.
We’ve seen Ben Askren, Gregor Gillespie, Daniel Cormier and many, many more go from NCAA stars to household MMA names, with more recent graduates such as Nick Piccininni, Bo Nickal and Edwin Cooper Jr. climbing their way to The Octagon as we speak.
The latter may be “tomorrow’s superstars,” but who’s the day after tomorrow?
Who does Bogle think UFC fans can expect to see coming down the pipeline who are currently singlet-donning contenders?
Austin DeSanto (University of Iowa)
“I think Austin DeSanto would be the number one guy. He has the Hawkeye fanbase behind him and, in my opinion, he’s about as much of a Hawkeye as you can be in terms of his attitude. If you look at any of the people in the sport of wrestling that wrestled for the Hawkeyes that were like big superstars, it’s the ones that were polarizing, that the Hawkeyes love and everybody else hated. Austin DeSanto has been training BJJ in the offseason and I think he’s a guy that the fanbase of MMA and wrestling would definitely get behind.”
Andrew Alirez (University of Northern Colorado)
After stellar true freshman seasons, Andrew Alirez and Mosha Schwartz have been named to the Amateur Wrestling News All-Rookie Team! Each freshman was named Honorable Mention All-American this season and earned top-15 seeds at the NCAA Championships. #BearDown #HibernationIsOver pic.twitter.com/AldWnWvlJe— UNC Bears Wrestling (@UNCBearsWrestle) May 28, 2020
“Andrew Alirez is a 149-pounder for Northern Colorado. He’s super fun to watch as a wrestler but I think he’s expressed some interest in fighting. I think he has a brother that fights and that’s also where Justin Gaethje went to college, so he would be another one.”
Gable Steveson (University of Minnesota)
“I think Gable obviously is an easy one, but I think he’s going the WWE route.”
AJ Ferrari (Oklahoma State University)
“AJ Ferrari would be huge. He’s already signed to an MMA management company in First Round Management and he hangs out with Jorge Masvidal, and he’s already kind of got that schtick, that character to him.”
Sebastian Rivera (Rutgers University)
“I think Sebastian Rivera would be good. He’s a guy from New Jersey, Rutgers kid, guy has an attitude to him a little bit and I know he spends a lot of time training with Frankie Edgar, so I think Sebastian Rivera would be a lot of fun.”
Roman Bravo-Young (Penn State University)
“I’d love to add RBY to my list. He trains with Dominick Cruz and has been pretty open about skipping his final year of eligibility to do MMA.”
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