Jordan Burroughs spoke to Pundit Arena about the possibility of a potential transition from the world of wrestling to mixed martial arts.
Burroughs managed to catch quite a few headlines on the other side of the combat sporting world ahead of and directly after a complete and utter annihilation of the UFC superstar Askren on Monday.
Askren predated his conqueror by several years in the sport they once shared and as we all know, has spent the last decade competing in MMA.
Still, the idea of bringing these two Olympians together on the mats served up a contest that drew a lot of eyes to a good cause in Beat The Streets that deserves all of the attention it can get.
And while it would have certainly been better to see these two collide when Ben was an active competitor on the wrestling circuit, his undefeated career in the cage has undoubtedly been the best move for his bank-balance as well as his aspirations for glory.
In recent times, Burroughs has become quite relevant in MMA circles due to this pairing.
Of course, those who are in-the-know will be aware of the gargantuan list of achievements he has been able to bring in over the last ten years, but it was very interesting to see him at least flirt with the idea of taking at least one mixed martial arts fight in the future.
In his conversation with Pundit Arena, Jordan explained why the idea of starting fresh and re-tuning his skill-set appeals to him at this point in his career.
Despite not setting the wheels in motion just yet, when asked about the difficulties that may arise when trying to rewire an elite-level wrestler to the more varied demands of MMA, his vibe was one of genuine intrigue laced with the expected level of confidence, given his credentials.
“It’s a good question and it’s something I have to adjust to because it’s a completely new sport. If you do anything for a long enough period of time – I started wrestling when I was five years old and I have learned so many wrestling moves that there were so many ways to improve – you have to continuously find new ways to keep your mind engaged.
“I don’t think anyone necessarily likes to fight. I mean, sure, there are some guys in the UFC who say ‘I love the violence, I love to scrap, I love to get punched in the face and punch other people in the face.’
“I’d like to think of what I do as something rich. It’s not just about the toughest guy. Yes, you need to be tough – you need to have mental fortitude and grit. But I also want to be technically savvy.
“I also want to be able to manipulate my opponent. I want to do all of these things that make me feel like I am actually fighting at my potential and longevity.”
Speaking to an athlete of Jordan Burroughs’ quality is a pretty unique experience, it doesn’t matter what the topic of conversation is.
To be in the G.O.A.T conversation in your relative sport, or even at a highly-regarded level in your chosen field, there’s an innate ability to recognize another high-flyer from afar, a respect between those who are achieving great things.
Real recognize real, and Jordan Burroughs is seemingly a big fan of the former two-weight UFC champion Georges St-Pierre.
“But when I look at some of the best guys in the sport, I look at it as a… take GSP, for example. Georges St-Pierre was a guy who approached it with a certain level of professionalism and he was just very skilled, a very quality competitor.
“He wasn’t just out there to fight, he was out there to execute – the things he had learned and the positions that he knew well. I think wrestling is a lot like that. I have a warrior spirit naturally but I approach it with a level of professionalism.
“I think boxing is an art-form. Wrestling is an art-form. I think MMA is getting to that place now with the numerous professionals they have competing in it.”
It became pretty apparent early on that Burroughs was a fan of mixed martial arts – one who has seen some of his peers on the wrestling mats make their own transitions across the two sports in the past.
It’s important to remember here that Daniel Cormier’s first MMA outing came to him at the age of 30 and Yoel Romero’s to him at 32.
Jordan Burroughs is 30 right now, and in watching some of the guys who have achieved great things inside the octagon on the back of lesser success on the mats, he is filled with confidence in his own chances.
“I think it would be a cool transition to make, it would be fun. There are certain aspects of MMA I really enjoy so I’d like to learn how to strike, jiu-jitsu.
“Wrestling is a little bit different to MMA but if you look at the champions in the UFC, the guys who are doing extremely well – a lot of them are former wrestlers.
“TJ Dillashaw, Daniel Cormier, Henry Cejudo, Jon Jones, Chris Weidman, Kamaru Usman, all of these amazing fighters. I got to train alongside a lot of these guys so I’ve been able to see what they were able to do in wrestling and the transition they’ve made into fighting.
“So for me, I wrestled alongside these guys and I’m considered one of the best wrestlers to ever have competed from the United States. There’s no question to me that if I decided to make a transition to MMA I’d be very successful.”
UFC president Dana White seems to be interested, that’s for sure.
Speaking in a recent interview on The Jim Rome Show, upon being asked he made it clear that an athlete of Burroughs quality could well find a home in the world’s premier MMA promotion.
“Yeah, listen, I’m always interested in, you know, these guys that are considered the best athletes in whatever it is they do wanting to come to the UFC.
“Yeah, obviously I’d be very interested.” (via MMAFighting)
This is the third and final entry to our three-part interview with the Olympic gold-medalist wrestler Jordan Burroughs.
Part one dealt with his thoughts on the former UFC title-challenger Chael Sonnen and can be read in full here.
Part two was released ahead of last weekend’s clash between him and Ben Askren at Beat The Streets NYC and can be read here.
Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena