Jordan Oliver reached heights many prospective wrestlers can only dream of.
The next in a long lineage of Oklahoma State University standouts to try their hand in mixed martial arts, Oliver (0-0 MMA, 0-0 BMMA) has similar goals and aspirations as notable alumni such as UFC Hall of Famer Daniel Cormier and Johny Hendricks – championship aspirations.
An MMA future was always on Oliver’s mind, even when it solely existed in his subconscious as he dominated increasing levels of wrestling competition. Now it’s on the forefront as Oliver and Bellator recently announced his signing, signaling the start to his MMA journey.
“It was something that always intrigued me, but when you see guys that you’re close with and train with, it becomes really realistic,” Oliver recently told MMA Junkie. “You’re like, ‘Oh, I’d love to do this. I want to do this, and I could win a world title, be the best in the world.’ This is just another step in my competitive career, right? Going from wrestling now to fighting, it would be something I would’ve regret not doing if I passed up the chance and the opportunity to compete in MMA.”
Inspired by his brother, Oliver started wrestling at 4. In high school, he won four Pennsylvania state titles. The success continued with two NCAA Division I national championships and four Division I All-American designations. In 2020, he was a member of the U.S. Olympic team but failed to qualify for the Olympics during the World Qualification Tournament when he lost to reigning Individual World Cup champion Magomedmurad Gadzhiev, 3-2.
While it was difficult for Oliver to walk away from the sport he’s always known, he sees an opportunity to vindicate past shortcomings with the jump to MMA. He’s always had gold on his mind, and now he’ll have another chance to obtain it, even if it comes in the form of a title belt rather than a medal. An MMA championship, Oliver said, would mean even more.
“A world champion is a world champion, and obviously wrestling has a different set of rules to win the gold, but I look at this as something bigger,” Oliver said. “I look at this as something bigger than the Olympic gold. This would mean more to me than Olympic gold. At the time I’m coming in and the work I’m going to have to put in, not only to win, but to win with style and dominate, I think it’ll fulfill me more to win a Bellator world title as a fighter.”
Oliver, 32, has trained MMA intermittently in the past. Now he’s full-fledged engulfed. In early March, he officially relocated to South Florida to train at his new home base, Kill Cliff FC, under coaches Greg Jones and Henri Hooft.
“There’s a lot of different crafts, as I think about it,” Oliver said. “It took me 28 years to get where I am in wrestling. There are some guys who have been striking a little bit longer, 10 to 12 years, or grappling or whatever it might be. For me, it’s a challenge, but I’m a very disciplined and committed athlete to learn the ways and not only become average but become the best.”
An extensive wrestling resume was his ticket to the dance, but now the slate is wiped clean as far as Oliver is concerned. He doesn’t have a debut on the books yet, as he aims to get himself to the point in which he feels comfortable enough to compete. Once strides start being made, Oliver predicts one-of-a-kind greatness is possible.
“(I want) to be the best fighter there possibly is. When you come to the pinnacle of your sport, whether it’s wrestling, whether it’s basketball, whether it’s golf, people who have been in the sport and witnessed the sport and see the small intricacies and little details can really appreciate and witness greatness,” Oliver said. “That’s what I want to get, where everything is crisp and I’m not considered a wrestler, I’m not considered a striker. I want to be considered a full-packaged mixed martial artist, as well.
“If the time comes and I’m blessed and am able to maintain the belt in whatever weight class, 145, I am, maybe I can become a triple champ.”
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Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie