Bellator 186 Brings the Mat to the Cage

HAMBURG, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 03: Ryan Bader poses for a post fight portrait backstage after his victory over Ilir Latifi of Sweden during the UFC Fight Night: Arlovski v Barnett at Barclaycard Arena on September 3, 2016 in Hamburg, Germany. (Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Wrestling Is the Focus

Bellator 186 is bringing the grind back to the cage. Wrestling will always be a quintessential part of MMA. When 186 takes place at the home of the best collegiate wrestling program in the nation, it will be back on display in a manner that could benefit both Bellator and the upcoming NCAA wrestling season.

Wrestling Helps Build MMA

Wrestling fans seem to be few and far between. March Madness dominates sports talk in March. However, March MATness brings out a rabid fan base that resembles that of any combat sports arena in the world. Bellator 186 will feature Ryan Bader, Ed Ruth, Phil Davis, and young up and coming Logan Storley. These men were born, bred, and developed in a wrestling room long before they even considered stepping into any cage or ring in the world.

In the past decade Penn State has dominated the world of NCAA wrestling. PSU has won six of the last seven NCAA team championships and produced some of the best in the world. The Bellator cage will be erected in the Bryce Jordan Center and the crowd will resemble that of a home wrestling match. There will be family and friends alike in attendance and there will be yelling, chanting, cheers, and tears. However, instead of staring at two combatants who are looking for the pin or the technical fall they will be hearing the crack of kicks, the slap of a punch, and of course there will still be takedowns.

The following week on the exact same campus Penn State Wrestling will open their season against Arny West Point. This is a match-up that nobody will be talking about, that will have very little buzz around it, but a match-up for wrestling fans triggers the start of another season of wrestling. A season that could produce the next Ed Ruth, Phil Davis, Logan Storley, or even a future champ like Ryan Bader. Bellator is prepared to use this stage to bring even more awareness to the sport of wrestling. Wrestling been around since the beginning of the Olympics.It has been and will continue to be the base for many MMA athletes.

Embracing the Grind

We have all heard Mike Goldberg mention the need to “embrace the grind” when it comes to training. Not everyone realizes that comes from the grind that wrestlers put themselves through in a wrestling room. It is obvious that Bellator understands the importance of wrestling to the sport of MMA. They are taking MMA to those who have been following these fighters since the very beginning.

Bellator has an opportunity that many combat sports organizations have failed to embrace. Bringing wrestling to the front of the line and promoting the upcoming season. Bellator needs to embrace a sport that has provided them countless champions and competitors. MMA fans should hold the names of Dan Gable and Cael Sanderson in the same regard as Gracie. This event brings wrestling from the mat to the cage and back.

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