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Olympic wrestler Steve Mocco making transition to MMA


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Mocco is ready for the bumps and bruises of MMA. (Getty)

Steve Mocco won two NCAA wrestling titles and competed in the Olympics as a heavyweight. Now, he has his eyes set on dominating a new sport: MMA.

Mocco, who competed in the Beijing Olympics in 2008, has had MMA on his mind for years. After training with Antonio Silva to prepare him for his bout with Cain Velasquez, Mocco decided to make the jump. He'll train at American Top Team in Florida. Mocco told Sammy Perez of Joe Show Radio:

"This decision was a whirlwind. I was down there training and all the guys were great. Once they discovered I was interested in fighting, everything fell into place."

He didn't want to wait any longer because he knows his prime athletic years are numbered. He's hoping to get a fight before the end of the year.

The decision also was made easier by Mocco not making this year's Olympic team. He finished third at the Olympic Trials in April.

Mocco was a collegiate star and a controversial figure. He started his career and won a national title with Iowa, then after redshirting, transferred to Oklahoma State. With that move, Mocco competed for the top two wrestling programs in the country.

While wrestling in college, Mocco had several battles with future Bellator heavyweight champ Cole Konrad. They met twice in the national championship. Mocco also faced off with future UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez, and was an Olympic teammate of Strikeforce heavyweight grand prix champ Daniel Cormier.

Mocco is following in the footsteps of several other wrestlers with elite, international experience to jump to MMA. Dan Henderson, Randy Couture, Joe Warren, Mo Lawal, Ben Askren and Cormier, among others, found success as fighters after wrestling at the highest levels.

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