Steve Mocco, two-time NCAA Division I heavyweight wrestling champ and 2008 Olympian, has taken the next step towards his mixed martial arts career by signing a five-fight deal with Resurrection Fighting Alliance (RFA), the organization announced Tuesday.
According to the RFA statement, Mocco is expected to make his MMA debut “later this summer or early fall.”
Just last month, it was revealed at Mocco, 30, had made the decision to enter MMA, and was training with American Top Team in Florida after having served as a training partner for Antonio Silva for his UFC 148 fight.
By chosing RFA, Mocco will be joining former wrestling champs Bubba Jenkins, 2011 NCAA Division I titlewinner for Arizona State, and T.J. Hepburn, 2012 NCAA Div. II champ for University of Nebraska-Kearney, along with 2007 NCAA D1 champ Gregor Gillespie of Edinboro University, and 2010 Big Ten titlewinner Lance Palmer, an Ohio State grad.
Prior to announcing his career move to MMA, Mocco had been working as an assistant coach at Lehigh University, while continuing to wrestle freestyle with the hope of making his second straight U.S. freestyle wrestling team, having placed seventh in the 120 kg weight class at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. However, Mocco failed to make the team competing next month at the London Games, having placed third in the heavyweight bracket at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials.
Mocco was one of the top college heavyweights of the first decade of this century. The New Jersey native was a four-time NCAA All-American, first at University of Iowa, then at Oklahoma State. Wrestling as a Hawkeye, Mocco was the runner-up at the 2002 NCAAs. The following year, Mocco won the 285-pound crown by defeating Kevin Hoy of the U.S. Air Force Academy at the 2003 NCAAs.
After taking a year away from college competition to attempt to make the 2004 U.S. Olympic team, Mocco left Iowa to transfer to Oklahoma State. In 2005, Mocco won his second NCAA heavyweight title, beating University of Minnesota’s Cole Konrad in the finals. However, at the 2006 NCAAs, Konrad avenged that loss to Mocco in the title bout.
Mocco completed his collegiate mat career with an overall record of 137-6; 56 of those wins were by pin.
Mocco becomes the latest former NCAA heavyweight champ to enter MMA. Cole Konrad, who won two NCAA titles, is now Bellator Heavyweight Champ, while 2009 NCAA 285-pound titlewinner Mark Ellis of the University of Missouri launched his MMA career last August.
Want to know more? For photos and info on Steve Mocco, check out NCAA Heavyweight Champs 2 Yahoo group, which also features photos of Cole Konrad and Mark Ellis.
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