This Weekend in MMA: Several wrestlers stepping into the cage in both Bellator and UFC

By JD Rader, USA Wrestling | Feb. 15, 2019, 5:41 p.m. (ET)
Wrestlers won’t just be competing in duals and tournaments across the country this weekend. Several former wrestlers will also be taking their talents into the cage as they compete in MMA.

On Friday night, Bellator 215 will feature several former wrestlers.

In the co-main event of the evening, former Minnesota Golden Gopher Logan Storley will be taking on Romanian fighter Ion Pascu.

Storley was one of the best high school wrestlers to ever come out of South Dakota. Storley left Webster High School in 2011 a six-time South Dakota state champion, NHSCA Junior national champion, Fargo freestyle national champion, USA Folkstyle Nationals champion, and Junior Hodge Trophy award winner.

Storley’s success didn’t stop after high school. At the University of Minnesota, Storley became a four-time NCAA All-American by placing sixth, fourth, third, and fourth.

Storley is 9-0 in MMA with seven TKO/KO victories and two decision victories. He is considered to be one of the top welterweight up and comers in MMA.

Several fights before Storley, former wrestler Brandon Girtz will be stepping into the cage. Girtz began wrestling his sophomore year of high school and became a state qualifier in his senior season for Forest Lake High School in Minnesota.

After high school, Girtz walked on to Minnesota State University. As a Maverick, Girtz was a two-time NCAA DII national qualifier, earning All-American honors as a senior in 2007.

In the fight directly before Girtz and fhe first on the main card will feature Austin Vanderford, a two-time Alaska state champion, competing for Ninilchik High School. Vanderford went on to become a two-time NAIA All-American and the 2012 NAIA national champion at 184 pounds for Southern Oregon University.

Vanderford will be making his Bellator MMA debut on Friday when he steps into the cage. He is 6-0 in MMA including a second-round submission win on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series.

Competing on the prelims of Bellator 215 will be middleweight fighter Pat McCrohan, a multiple Massachusetts state place winner for Somerset High School. In college. McCrohan competed for NCAA DIII Johnson & Wales University where he compiled a 53-37 record. McCrohan will be taking a 3-2 record with him when he makes his Bellator debut Friday night.

Bellator 215 will take place Friday night. The prelims can be streamed on at 6:30 p.m. ET. The main event will be aired on Paramount Network or can be streamed on DAZN at 9 p.m. ET.

UFC Fight Night: Ngannou vs. Velasquez will be taking place Sunday night at the Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix, Ariz.

Headlining the event will be former wrestler Cain Velasquez. In high school, Velasquez compiled a 110-10 record and was a two-time state champion for Kofa High School in Yuma, Ariz.

After high school, Velasquez wrestled at Iowa Central Community College for one year where he won a NJCAA national title at heavyweight for the Tritons. After his one year in Fort Dodge, Iowa, Velasquez transferred to Arizona State University. As a Sun Devil, Velasquez compiled a record of 86-17 and earned All-American honors in 2005 and 2006.

Upon finishing his wrestling career at Arizona State, Velasquez joined American Kickboxing Academy where he has excelled as a fighter. In 2010 Velasquez won the UFC Heavyweight Championship when he knocked out Brock Lesnar at UFC 121. Since gaining the title, Velasquez has struggled with injuries, but is considered by most to be one of the greatest heavyweights in MMA history.

On the prelims of Saturday’s UFC fight card will be Aljamain Sterling, who began wrestling in his sophomore year at Uniondale High School in New York. After high school, Sterling chose to continue wrestling at State University of New York College at Cortland where went 82-27 and was a two-time NCAA DIII All-American.

Sterling will be stepping into the Octagon with a 16-3 record where he’ll be taking on a tough opponent in Jimmie Rivera.

Several fights before Sterling, former wrestler Nik Lentz will be on display. Lentz was a two-time state champion for Bloomington Jefferson High School in Minnesota. After graduating high school, Lentz wrestled for the University of Minnesota but decided to drop out and pursue MMA after just two years.

UFC Fight Night: Ngannou vs. Velasquez will be airing on ESPN with the prelims starting at 7 p.m. ET and main card starting at 9 p.m.

Last weekend recap

Former wrestlers saw mixed results at UFC 234 last weekend. Lando Vannata defeated Marcos Rosa Mariano via first round submission.

Sam Alvey lost via first round TKO. However, the stoppage was controversial, with Alvey arguing it was too early.

Kelvin Gastelum never got to step into the octagon as his opponent, champion Robert Whittaker, pulled out the day of the fight with an injury. Because the fight was supposed to be for the title, Gastelum is now claiming he should be the UFC Middleweight champion. He even paraded around with a UFC belt, reportedly borrowed from UFC champion and Olympic champion Henry Cejudo