Ed Ruth: Bellator’s Next Welterweight King?
Ed Ruth, multi-time collegiate wrestling national champion, has remained on his meteoric rise since his major professional debut on November 4, 2016 at Bellator 163. The wrestling phenom is 5-0, with only one of those going the distance. Few have come into the world of MMA with as much hype as Ruth. Even fewer have lived up to it like Ruth has so far.
The Early Wrestling Days
Ruth graduated from New Jersey’s powerhouse Blair Academy in 2009. He had previously attended Susquehanna Township High School in Harrisburg, PA for his first three years of high school before transferring to the prestigious private school. Blair Academy was ranked number two in the nation during Ruth’s attendance. In 2008 Ruth won the NHSCA High School Junior National Championship as well as being named the top recruit in the nation.
Jeff Buxton, head coach of Blair Academy during Ruth’s time told Penn State Wrestling Club on how Ruth ended up at the school. “Ed wrestles for a club in Carlisle with Marat Tomaev. Marat was a former Penn State wrestler and a Blair wrestler. Marat had been talking to me over the past couple of years about a kid who he thought could really benefit from a year at Blair, or two years, and one that he thought needed a better year academically to get himself ready for college and certainly for wrestling would just be the gravy on top. And that’s basically how I met Ed.”
Penn State University Tenure
In one of the most successful college wrestling careers ever at Penn State University, Ruth earned three national championships and a third-place finish after redshirting the 2009-2010 season in the 174-pound weight class.
Ruth also earned the Gorriaran Award in his freshman year, which is given to the wrestler who collects the most pins in the shortest amount of time. Ruth’s third-place finish as a freshman was also the same year fellow MMA fighter (UFC welterweight Colby Covington) finished in fifth place as a senior representing Oregon State University in the same weight division.
As a sophomore in 2011-2012, Ruth won his first of three national championships. This one was won at 174 pounds but his junior year he would move up to 184 pounds. 184 would be where he would win his second national championship. Ruth continued the trend, winning the national championship at 184 pounds in the 2013-2014 season. He also claimed the Big Ten Championship all four years of competition. Ruth’s run for the Olympics did not go as anticipated so it was time to move onto the next venture.
The Inevitable Move to MMA
“I saw that other wrestlers went into the sport and did well, and also I’ve always loved fighting and boxing,” Ruth told MMASucka on the decision to transition to MMA. “I watched a lot of technique videos and taught myself. Also I work a lot with Bob Cook and Marcos Padilla. Bob is unbelievable when it comes to everything MMA, and Marcos works with me in pure boxing.”
Both Cook and Padilla have coached for American Kickboxing Academy with Padilla currently serving as the boxing coach at Dethrone MMA in Fresno, CA, where Ruth mainly trains.
Bellator was quick to sign up Ruth in May 2015, though Ruth was still deep in preparations for the 2016 Summer Olympics. See Jeremy Brand of MMASucka’s article here on the signing. When Ruth did not make the Olympic team, his transition to being a Bellator star was ready to begin. On November 04, 2016, almost 18 months after initially signing with Bellator, Ruth made his debut and did not disappoint.
Beginnings in Bellator
The big debut came against Dustin Collins-Miles at Bellator 163. Ruth made quick work winning by TKO in the very first round. Ruth made a fast turnaround just one month later and competed against Emanuele Palombi at Bellator 168, winning again by TKO 1:33 into the very first round.
Though Ruth did not compete again in the cage until April 2017, he remained in active competition. Ruth competed in the 2017 Pan-American Jiu-Jitsu Championship, winning the silver medal in the blue belt division. When asked by MMASucka if he would like to compete in more jiu-jitsu competitions Ruth responded, “I do actually, just letting myself heal a little. I want to actually progress through the belts via tournaments. I wanted to earn my black belt that way.”
Ruth continued his winning ways in Bellator competing in the cage two more times in 2017. His first two bouts were catchweights, slowing decreasing in weight (192 pounds, then 189 pounds respectively.) Both bouts in 2017 were contested at middleweight.
His first matchup of the year was against David Mundell at Bellator 178 where Ruth ended the contest with a TKO by knee to the body in the second round. Ruth had Mundell pinned against the cage and delivered a knee that dropped Mundell. He later competed in November 2017 taking on former UFC veteran Chris Dempsey, winning by KO in the second round. This was a homecoming of sorts for Ruth being the event was contested at University Park, at Penn State University.
2018 and Beyond
Thus far in 2018, Ruth has competed once against Ion Pascu at a 175 pound catchweight. When asked about the gradual weight drop in bouts, Ruth stated, “I’m dropping down to 170. I recently competed at 175-pound catchweight. 170 is just more close to my natural weight.”
Currently, Ruth is just taking some time to fully heal up. Hopefully, we will see him back in action soon to continue his rise for a showdown with champion Rory McDonald. Ruth has all the tools and abilities needed to become a future Bellator champion. Be sure and follow Ruth on Twitter.
Embed from Getty Images