While his Bellator MMA debut is more than a year away, if not longer, 2016 Olympic hopeful Ed Ruth is already tentatively planning to train at Jackson-Wink MMA.
Late last year, Ruth spent about a week working with Jon Jones as the former light heavyweight champion prepared for his showdown with Daniel Cormier at UFC 182. The bond forged during that time, along with overall atmosphere of the Albuquerque, N.M.-based gym, makes the renowned camp the most likely destination for Ruth when he finally begins preparation for his Bellator debut.
“I just have intentions for Greg Jackson’s right now,” Ruth told Sherdog.com. “Two years is a long time. Things could change, and I like to keep my options open. As for right now, I’m just throwing out the name Greg Jackson’s because that’s one of the camps I saw myself at.
“It was a great experience. I went out there; I got to meet [Jones}. He introduced me to a lot of other people in the gym....It just seemed family oriented. Everybody just seemed like a big family. Everybody was happy. There was no hostility from anybody in that gym.”
Of course, a lot has happened since Ruth’s last visit. Jones tested positive for cocaine following his win over Cormier and more recently, was arrested in connection with a felony hit-and-run in Albuquerque last month. As a result, Jones was suspended indefinitely by the UFC and stripped of his 205-pound belt. His legal situation is still pending.
Ruth says he has maintained contact with Jones during the ex-champ’s troubled times.
“We shared a few words,” Ruth said. “I just expressed toward him if he needed somebody to talk to I just wanted to be right there for him. He’s a great guy. I consider him a good friend. I just wanted him to make sure that he knew I still was in his corner.”
While it is currently unknown when Jones will return to training, Ruth has a pretty clear idea of when he’d like to begin his MMA career. After the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro are complete, Ruth plans on getting right to work.
“I was gonna see how training and everything goes. Right after everything with the Olympics is done, I want to go into MMA maybe a couple months afterwards,” he said. “I don’t want to wait too long...I just kind of want to just jump right in.”
Wrestling currently dominates most of Ruth’s schedule, but he said he still tries to hit mitts or get work on the heavy bag when time allows. The challenge of transitioning to a sport with so many elements appeals to Ruth, a three-time NCAA national champion wrestler at Penn State University. He is confident that he will eventually be successful in his new endeavor.
“I always like to be the guy that goes into different sports and sees how good he can become,” Ruth said. “When I was switching over from folkstyle to freestyle [wrestling], I feel like I made great jumps and gains over the year. I kind of feel like I can do that in boxing, kickboxing, and jiu-jitsu.”
Already, Ruth has begun to immerse himself in the unfamiliar aspects of MMA. Once the sport has his full focus, he is only going to get better.
“I don’t really feel too much out of my element. I feel comfortable in the cage. If I’m in a cage and I close my eyes, I definitely feel like I can get into the moment,” Ruth said. “I can definitely see myself fighting in front of thousands and maybe millions of people.”