Despite CM Punk losing his first UFC fight at the hands of Mickey Gall, it seems like his move from wrestling to the MMA has inspired other athletes, most notably an Olympic medalist. Kyle Snyder, who was spotted at UFC 203, shared a Tweet post-fight that indicates his interest in fighting inside the Octagon one day.
The 97kg division wrestler (that’s around 200 lbs) won the gold at Rio 2016, which means that should the fight promotion company consider him, the light heavyweight division could be in real trouble. Aside from taking inspiration from CM Punk, sources are also saying that the electrifying atmosphere at UFC 203 “must have gotten to him.”
Snyder’s wrestling resume lists down a string of achievements that would make a young Randy Couture blush. This includes winning the gold medal at the Rio Olympics and 2015 and 2016 NCAA heavyweight championships before the 2016 games.
The 20-year-old wrestler is also the youngest male American to stand atop the podium of Olympic wrestling. Coincidentally, Snyder edged out the record set by Beijing Olympics gold medalist Henry Cejudo, who is now one of the contenders in the UFC’s flyweight division.
Other Olympic wrestlers who transitioned to the UFC
Another notable Olympian who made the wrestling to MMA transition was Kevin Jackson who had four fights in a very young UFC. The wrestler, who won gold at the 1992 Olympics, also captured the belt at UFC 14 against Anthony Fryklund in 1997. He eventually lost the title to Frank Shamrock the same year.
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The most obvious questions now are, will Snyder make an impact and will the UFC bring him in?
He most definitely could. Just look at another WWE star who had minimal training and zero MMA experience but won the heavyweight title—Brock Lesnar. This may also pique the curiosity of the UFC since Snyder brings in highlight-worthy credentials, more so than a recently failed wrestler who even made a documentary of himself in the lead up to his fight.
Stay tuned for the evolution of Snyder.
Photo Courtesy: Antonio Fucito