Jake Rosholt Begins His Assault on the Middleweight Division
For most accomplished athletes, the end of the line – whether on the high school or college
level - comes with substantial regret and sadness. It’s a realization that the roar of the crowd will be silenced and that the usually ever-present next match or next game won’t be there anymore.
So you’ve got to assume that when Jake Rosholt - a four-time Division I All-American and three-time National Champion wrestler for Oklahoma State – walked away from competitive wrestling, that it was probably the worst time of his young life.
But that assumption would be incorrect.
“I was kinda burned out on wrestling and didn’t really want to keep pursuing it,” recalled Rosholt, who graduated from OSU in 2006 with a degree in education. “I still wanted to compete and push myself mentally and physically, but I was ready for a different challenge. I just didn’t have the passion for wrestling anymore.”
Enter an almost year-long period where Rosholt enjoyed ‘civilian’ life in Stillwater, until he met the management of Team Takedown, who preached the gospel of mixed martial arts to him.
“I hadn’t had any thought about going into MMA until the people who were behind Team Takedown started talking to me about it and kinda got me interested in it,” he said. “And I went out, tried it a couple of times, and just fell in love with it.”
That was April of 2007, and suddenly Rosholt was part of the new generation of elite wrestlers making their transition into MMA, a group that includes his OSU teammate Johny Hendricks, Cain Velasquez, CB Dollaway, Ryan Bader, and a host of other up and coming fighters who can claim All-American or National Champion status on their wrestling resumes.
“It’s so similar in getting out there and it being a one-on-one combative sport,” said Rosholt when asked why MMA has been so enticing to elite college wrestlers. “You’re pushing yourself everyday to work hard, be in great shape, and to learn and try to get better. So I think that they’re really similar in that aspect. But in wrestling, once you get to a certain place, it kind of plateaus off and there aren’t a lot of options, but MMA has opened a lot of doors for a lot of wrestlers. It’s definitely a blessing.”
And like so many wrestlers who make the move to MMA, Rosholt has had to deal with the transition to striking and jiu-jitsu. With Marc Laimon in his corner, the jiu-jitsu is coming along just fine, but he admits that striking has been a bit tougher to pick up.
“The striking has definitely not come easy to me,” said Rosholt. “I’ve had to spend a lot of time working at it, but I feel like it’s getting better and better all the time. I’m so young in the sport and have so much further to go and so much further for my skills to grow that I feel like I’m getting better all the time. I’ve come a long way, but I still have a long way to go.”
Speaking of long ways, Rosholt has also jumped in with both feet into his new sport, making the 1,010 mile journey from Stillwater to Las Vegas in order to amp up his learning in the fight capital of the world. That may have been even tougher to do than picking up the subtleties of the jab-right cross combination, but the 26-year old feels that it was a necessary step.
“It definitely was a tough move,” said Rosholt. “I’m a small town, rural, country boy, and it’s been a huge change for me. But I know what it takes as a competitor to get to the top, and sometimes you have to make those sacrifices, even if they aren’t exactly what you want to do. Moving to Las Vegas was the best move for me as far as training MMA and getting better. The best trainers and workout partners are here and this is where I needed to be to excel in the sport, so that’s where I am.”
Four months after his first exposure to the sport, Rosholt was making his pro debut, submitting Dusty Miller in the first round on July 21, 2007. That got the ball rolling, and the buzz has picked up considerably after three more wins (all by TKO), a stint on VERSUS’ TapOut show, and a recent signing with the WEC.
“More and more I get people starting to notice
me a little bit and talking to me about my fights coming up and that they’re excited about it, so it’s definitely getting people more interested in me, and that’s good,” said Rosholt, referring to his WEC debut this Wednesday against 5-0 Nissen Osterneck. It’s a big step up for Rosholt.
“It’s definitely a step up for me and it’s gonna be a big fight, but I’m looking at it as just another fight,” he said of the nationally televised bout (VERSUS 8pm ET). “All I can do is go out there and perform to the best of my abilities. As long as I do that, everything will be fine. I expect him to come out and put on a good fight. I’m sure he’s gonna get out there and be scrappin’.”
So will Rosholt, and if all the expectations hit their mark, Wednesday night just may be the next step to a middleweight championship for this former Oklahoma State Cowboy.
“I’m just having fun right now, learning, and trying to get better all the time,” he said. “As long as I keep progressing like I have, keep getting better, and keep training hard, things will all fall into place like I feel that they have so far.”