Ed Ruth, three-time NCAA champ for Penn State who is now the top-ranked US freestyle wrestler at 86 kilos/189 pounds, may have designs on a professional mixed martial arts career, according to evidence put forth by wrestling/MMA writer Mike Riordan in BloodyElbow.com Friday.
“Ed Ruth is one of the very best wrestlers in NCAA history and a favorite to make the USA Olympic Team in freestyle wrestling,” Riordan – who writes under the name Coach Mike R — reported. “Recently he trained with UFC champ Jon Jones in Albuquerque.”
The story was confirmed by Brandon Gibson, who describes himself as “striking coach at the renowned Jackson’s / Winkeljohn’s Gym in ABQ NM” on Facebook, posted this message on his @SixGunGibson Twitter account: “Ed Ruth (3x NCAA wrestling champion from Penn State) swing by the gym tonight and smashed some pads. Always great to work with champions.” Gibson also included a photo of himself standing with a shirtless Ruth (see above).
In a video posted at the Instagram account of wrestling coach Izzy Martinez — and at the BloodyElbow.com article — the former Nittany Lion mat champ uses what Riordan describes as “some sort of jumping spinning kick to knock a pad from none other than UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones’ hand. At the conclusion of the video Ruth says, ‘MMA world, I’m coming for y’all,’ and then Jones makes odd shrieking noises in appreciation for the younger man’s kicking skills.”
In his latest BloodyElbow.com story, Riordan continues, “Three years ago, in an interview with MMA Fighting’s Luke Thomas, my first foray into internet wrestling commentary, I stated that Ruth had more potential as a mixed martial artist than any other wrestler in the field at the NCAA Championships. I stand by this assertion. Ruth is one of the top-five most naturally-gifted combat athletes I have ever laid eyes on. These gifts don’t just include raw athleticism, which he has in spades, but an innate understanding of what it takes to execute intricate and demanding techniques without seeming to try too hard. I’ve witnessed this latter capability in wrestling, and have no doubt it would transfer to other combat disciplines.”
Riordan isn’t the only writer to express an opinion on Ruth’s possible entry into MMA. In his “Rick’s Rant” column at TheMat.com, Richard Immel, in the communications department for USA Wrestling — the governing body for Olympic wrestling in the US — weighed in with his opinion, saying, “There is no doubt in my mind Ed Ruth could become a superstar in the MMA world, perhaps even a champion. He has all the skills necessary to become that should he so choose. Do I think he makes a move like this before the 2016 Olympics? Absolutely not. Ed is in prime position to be a World and Olympic medalist. He is coming off his first World Championship tournament, where it was evident to me that he can compete with the best in the world. Now give him a full year to devote solely to freestyle training, the dude could be scary good!”
In addition to competing in traditional freestyle events, Ruth recently wrestled at the second Flo Premier League event, a new professional wrestling venture established by amateur wrestling website Flowrestling.org. In that late November event, in a match-up of former collegians from Pennsylvania-based schools who are familiar foes in freestyle, Ruth beat University of Pittsburgh mat champ Keith Gavin, 10-7, at 190 pounds.
Whether he continues his freestyle career or ventures into MMA, the 24-year-old Ruth brings impressive college wrestling credentials into combat. Last March, he won his third NCAA title, becoming the first wrestler in a century of Penn State wrestling to claim three national mat crowns. According to the Nittany Lion wrestling website, Ruth concluded his collegiate career with a 136-3 record, including 46 pins, 25 technical falls, and 33 major decisions, translating into 104 bonus-point wins out of 136 – all indicators of on-the-mat dominance. The Harrisburg, Pa. native was named Pennsylvania Wrestler of the Year, an annual honor presented to the top native Pennsylvanian in the nation.