Jarod Trice’s wrestling days are over. The three-time NCAA All-American wrestler and former Chippewa will now try his hand in Mixed Marshal Arts, starting sometime this year. Bellator MMA, an MMA promotion company based in California founded in 2008, announced Trice’s first MMA deal on Monday, May 2 — an exclusive, multi-fight contract.
“I think I’ve experienced everything I could possibly do in wrestling so far,” Trice said. After losing in the quarterfinals of the 2016 Olympic Wrestling Trials on April 9, the 27-year-old Highland Park native said his goal now is to be an MMA star with Bellator. “My dream was to win an Olympic gold medal — that was my dream,” Trice said. “Now, my dream and my goal is to win an MMA world title.”
In a press release, Bellator President Scott Coker said, “We’re excited to be adding another world-class wrestling talent to our ever-growing roster of fighters here at Bellator. I’ve always taken great pride in our ability to identify and build stars in this business, and I have great confidence that we’ve found a gem in Jarod Trice.” Trice, who’s had success in both freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling — but never competed in MMA, said he’s simply excited for his first fight. He expects to be in the cage sometime at the end of 2016 or in January of 2017.
The only difference between the two sports Trice said is “you get to punch people in the face (in MMA).” “I’ve already taken a few punches in the face just from sparring, but in my mind, the game is to hit and not be hit,” Trice said. Recalling his college days of having to wake up at 6 a.m. to run three miles, the 2011 Mid-American Conference heavyweight champion said the most important thing he learned while wrestling for CMU Head Coach Tom Borelli is mental toughness. “Once you’re in a fight, you can’t back down,” Trice said. “Once that cage is locked, you can’t back down in that cage. There’s no running from it.”