Ben Askren, considered by many pundits to be one of the greatest amateur wrestlers of all-time, has signaled his intent to pursue a career in professional mixed martial arts and has joined Florida’s American Top Team.
“We are very excited that Ben has joined our team and we look forward to working with this outstanding athlete,” an ATT official stated in a message on the Underground forum. “Ben already has a great (wrestling) base from which to work from and has taken to BJJ very quickly. He will head down to the main academy in Coconut Creek, Florida (in) mid-December to train with us, and also be training out of ATT Missouri with Wade Rome… He has a very bright MMA career ahead of him.”
Askren, who is 5’10”, competed at 174 pounds in college and is expected to compete as a welterweight in MMA. Several major agencies have already begun to recruit him as a client with hopes of landing him a lucrative contract with a major national promotion.
The Iowa native is believed to have already been working out of the ATT franchise in Missouri and is reportedly already a purple belt in jiu-jitsu.
The 24-year old Askren was a two-time NCAA champion while competing for the University of Missouri, where he posted an amazing record of 153-8 during his four-year amateur career. He is also fourth on the all-time NCAA list for pins with 91, trailing only Gene Mills (107), Wade Schalles (106), and Larry Bielenberg (94).
He most recently represented the United States during the 2008 Beijing Olympics this past August but failed to medal in the 74 kilogram (163 pounds) freestyle division.
Askren joins Johny Hendricks, Jake Rosholt, Muhammad Lawal, and Cain Velasquez as recent NCAA wrestling standouts to cross over into MMA.