What does the future hold for Jake Herbert?
Mixed martial arts is an option the 2012 Olympic wrestler and two-time NCAA champ for Northwestern is considering, according to a profile posted at MMAJunkie.com Sunday.
Six months after shoulder surgery, the 28-year-old Herbert is traveling the country, conducting wrestling camps and actively doing his part to ensure wrestling stays in the Olympics beyond 2016 after it was eliminated as a core sport by the IOC (International Olympic Committee) in February. However, as Ben Fowlkes points out in his MMAJunkie.com feature, the Pennsylvania native has a number of options available down the road. Use his communications degree to land a lucrative desk job? Continue in freestyle wrestling? Become a college wrestling coach? Enter MMA?
Fowlkes, who spent time with Herbert as he taught ten-year-olds single-leg takedowns at an instructional camp in Montana, writes, “The problem with making his living this way is that there really isn’t much of one. It’s not so different from wrestling in that sense, even if it is easier on the body.”
Herbert lays out for Fowlkes just how much he was making in freestyle wrestling: “I was at the top of the game, making the most I could make for wrestling, and that’s $1,200 a month stipend from USA Wrestling. Then I got a $25,000 bonus for taking second in the world. So there’s not money in it. If I wanted to make money, I wouldn’t be wrestling – I’d be using my degree.”
It’s not just about the money, either. The former Northwestern mat champ is still somewhat bitter about the politics at play at last summer’s Olympics, where he was the victim of questionable calls that cost him the chance to bring home a medal.
With all that in mind, it’s no wonder that Herbert might entertain the idea of MMA competition. After the MMAJunkie.com writer pointed out the possible paydays that might be his in the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championships) after a couple years in MMA, Herbert said, “I’ll take that offer – $16,000 and all I have to do is beat someone in a fight? Sure.”
Herbert is concerned about the risks, ranging from fear of failure, to potential brain damage from blows to the head. “I’ve asked [Daniel] Cormier and Phil Davis and Ben Askren and all these guys, how does this compare to wrestling? Because they did it,” said Herbert, naming three top collegiate mat stars who have found considerable success in MMA. “They know how hard on the body wrestling is. My body hurts me now, so I wanted to know how hard the training is with respect to wrestling. They all say it’s easier on the body.”
MMA? What about WWE?
The MMAJunkie.com article doesn’t mention an option that Herbert mentioned in an interview last summer: professional wrestling. In a question-and-answer session with WWE.com just before the 2012 Olympics, Herbert admitted to being a huge fan of “sports entertainment,” even fessing up to having dressed up as WWE’s Ultimate Warrior for Halloween a few years ago. When asked what his finishing move would be if he were to go pro, Herbert mentioned “the Spike Dudley Acid Death Drop” referring to a pro wrestler of the past.
In the meantime, Herbert is dedicated to working with young wrestlers at camps from Pittsburgh to Hawaii, and his efforts to keep wrestling on the Olympic sports roster. In an interview with KPAX-TV in Montana, the 185-pounder said, “I don’t want to live in a world without wrestling. It’s an original Olympic sport. It’s a great sport. It’s the essential of the Olympic spirit where you have 178 different countries wrestling…30 of them getting medals. You only need dirt, not even mats. It’s cheap; people can do it anywhere all you need is two people and a will to win.”
Want to know more? Read Ben Fowlkes’ profile of Jake Herbert at MMAJunkie.com… and check out KPAX-TV video and article about Herbert’s battle to save Olympic wrestling. For something a bit more whimsical, read his 2012 question-and-answer session on pro wrestling at WWE.com. And… for more photos, video and info, check out Herbert’s official website.
The season may be over… but there’s still news! Keep up with all the post-season awards, coach hirings, firings and retirings, new programs, news about international and Olympic wrestling, and other developments year round… by clicking the “subscribe” button at the top of the page to make sure you don’t miss a single article from College Wrestling Examiner, winner of Amateur Wrestling News’ Dellinger Award as wrestling writer of 2011. It’s absolutely FREE!
College Wrestling 101: Links to College Wrestling Examiner articles answering basic questions about wrestling, including rules, scoring, uniforms, more
Follow College Wrestling Examiner Mark Palmer on Twitter