The college wrestling community has been concerned lately with the demise of the sport in one of the country's most important states. With the state being broke, sports are the first thing to go. In just the past year, wrestling at Cal State.-Bakersfield and UC-Davis have been cut. Fresno St. lost their program in recent years.
MMA has joined in the fight to save the sport in California. You can pitch in by going to one of the two benefits that are coming up to keep Cal. Poly's program going and save Cal. State-Bakersfield.
On May 22, Cal Poly will host "Fight for Wrestling," an MMA event featuring local fighters. To buy tickets, call 1-866-Go-Stangs, order online at gopoly.com or visit the Mustang Athletics Ticket Office. For more information about the event, visit FightForWrestling.com.
The week before that, help Cal. St.-Bakersfield by attending a dinner-auction on May 15, hosted by NFL player and Bakersfield alumnus Stephen Neal. Though he currently plays for the New England Patriots, wrestling fans remember Neal as a two-time heavyweight champion and the guy who beat Brock Lesnar. Tickets for the fundraiser are $50 per person, and available by calling Tonya Eagle at 661-302-4455.
It's hard to overstate California wrestling's impact on MMA. Chuck Liddell wrestled for Cal Poly, also the alma mater of WEC fighters Antonio Banuelos and Chad Mendes (pictured). Aaron Simpson coached at Cal Poly with Olympian Sammie Henson, who often helps Liddell prepare for fights. Urijah Faber wrestled and coached at UC-Davis, where he met Mark Munoz, who coached at Davis after wrestling for Oklahoma St., and introduced him to MMA.
Wrestling and MMA are intertwined in California, so by supporting one, you're supporting both.