MMA will soon welcome another accomplished wrestler when two-time NCAA finalist Bryce Meredith makes his move to the sport.
The University of Wyoming standout, a three-time All-American in Division I wrestling and NCAA tournament runner-up in 2016 and 2018, has decided to make the transition to fighting after wrestling career is over.
Meredith currently trains out of the Princeton Wrestling Club and the New Jersey Regional Training Center as he makes a run at the 2020 Olympic team. He recently signed on with the management firm Martin Advisory Group, which also represents fighters such as Bellator two-division champion Ryan Bader, Michael Chandler, Logan Storley and former UFC champ Robbie Lawler.
According to the 24-year-old Wyoming native, the move to MMA was always his intention, even when he was considered one of the top college wrestlers in the country.
“Pretty much I’ve known my entire life that I was going to transition into MMA,” Meredith told MMA Fighting on Thursday. “You’ve got to figure out the right time to do it, when you decide that you want to leave wrestling, or if you want to do both for a little bit and then transition into MMA completely as you get the ball rolling.
“For me, it’s literally been written in stone my entire life. I have a 12-year-old boxer dog that’s named ‘Rampage.’ So I’ve known it was going to be that way. “
The key for Meredith’s move to fighting was timing. He wanted to finish college while pursuing an NCAA title, and he now seeks a spot on the Olympic roster before he fully devotes himself to MMA.
“A lot of times, the people that transition right after high school or in the middle of college, it’s kind of a cop out, because they weren’t mentally tough enough to finish their entire college career,” he explained. “Obviously, me being successful in college, I had to see that through. I got to finish out some of this Olympic dream stuff, but it’s always been very appealing to me in the fact that in fighting you can let your personality shine in a different way than wrestling.
“Mostly wrestling is you sign up for the tournament and go. With fighting, you can be nice with your words, you can be slick, you have to be kind of business savvy, and I went to school for business management. All those types of things make the game of fighting very exciting, and I truly believe that I can be somebody that can come in a couple of years and really [entice] fans and watch my style as I begin to fight.”
Rather than rushing ahead with no career game plan, Meredith says he’s working with a management team that has his best interests at heart, which is why he’s approaching this move as a marathon rather than a sprint.
“I have managers that are on my team, with Dave [Martin] and Randel [Aleman], that are going to put me in the best position to make this a long career. I trust those guys,” Meredith said. “It’s going to be very smart and it’s going to work well I think.”
Before he ever sets foot in a cage or ring, Meredith already has a leg up on a lot of his potential competition, thanks to his extensive wrestling background. Not only that, but the former Cowboy believes his particular brand of grappling is tailor-made for success in MMA.
“I’m 5-9, and I’m probably going to fight at 135 [pounds], so that [makes] me a very long, lengthy 135-pounder with a wrestling background,” Meredith explained. “I’ve talked to other people, I’ve rolled with other people, and the way the style goes, my wrestling really favors a fighting style of wrestling.
“I was known for my mat wrestling. Being able to escape from anybody. My senior year at Nationals, all five of my opponents, nobody chose bottom on me, which in my head was kind of crazy. I was known for being very good on top and bottom and that was one of the reasons why I became so successful in folkstyle wrestling.”
Beyond his athletic gifts, Meredith feels he has one other distinct advantage over many of the other wrestlers who have decided to give MMA a try after their careers on the mats are finished.
“I think a lot of wrestlers they’ve been kind of pushed in the direction — are you going to do MMA? I don’t think a lot of them grew up enjoying the sport, watching it, sparring with people when they were kids,” Meredith said. “Obviously, I haven’t done a lot of sparring and hitting mitts to where I need to be, but I grew up fighting, being a fan of fighting.
“We had fight clubs, because all of my friends were boxers. It’s something I’ve been a fan of and drawn to my entire life.”