Three-time NCAA Div. I wrestling champion Ed Ruth will make his mixed martial arts debut inside the Bellator MMA cage.
Bellator on Monday announced that it has signed the 24-year-old Pennsylvania native to an exclusive, multi-fight contract. Specifics of the deal were not disclosed.
Ruth’s transition to MMA is still more than one year away, as the former Penn State Nittany Lion is currently focused on competing at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
“I’ve known for a long time now that after I get Olympic gold around my neck, I was going to go get some MMA gold for my waist,” Ruth stated in a release. “I’ve been talking with all the major organizations, and at the end of the day, I really believe in what Scott Coker is doing with Bellator. They’re signing top talent, they’re putting on exciting fights, and they’re letting me secure my own sponsors.”
Ruth, who won national titles at 174 and 184 pounds, is expected to compete in Bellator’s middleweight division. The four-time All-American has previously trained at Jackson-Wink-MMA in Albuquerque, N.M., where Ruth helped Jon Jones prepare for Jones’ bout with Daniel Cormier at UFC 182.
Ruth is not the first wrestling standout to be signed by Bellator before debuting in MMA. Bantamweight Shawn Bunch began his career with the organization, and another 2016 Olympic hopeful, Aaron Pico, has already committed to Bellator.