The City College wrestling team will be bringing on board future freshman Benito Lopez, trained in the sport of Mixed Martial Arts, to compete for a spot on the team, as well as help push the current team to its limit, according to Head Coach Dave Pacheco.
“Looking into next year we have a lot of talent in every weight classification. Guys who redshirted this year and were on the team this year would make us a very good team,” Pacheco explained. “But if we can get freshmen like Benito to come in and push those guys for spots, our program will be that much better.”
Lopez spoke about working with the team versus working alone.
“I love being around people and around a team,” Lopez said. “I think it helps in maintaining motivation to get through workouts.”
One of the possible hurdles that Lopez will encounter this coming fall will be competing on the Sacramento City Wrestling team with limited experience in the sport.
Lopez current training in MMA combines a mixture of fighting styles, which includes kickboxing, jui-jitsu and wrestling, more commonly known as cage fighting. Lopez won his first MMA bout by kicking his opponent unconscious within the first minute of the fight.
“I hope to take wrestling as far as I can,” Lopez said. “But right now I think it will help me more for MMA in the future.”
The high school senior was only on a school wrestling team for a short period and is currently home schooled so he does not currently wrestle on a high school team. Lopez hopes to learn a lot in his first year in college, but said he looks forward to what he will learn off the mat in wrestling. He said that the experience of school and wrestling would bring him into his own as a man.
“I’m looking forward to moving to Sacramento,” Lopez said. “Just becoming a man and being more independent, growing up.”
Wrestling and MMA may seem very similar to those that do not understand the different sports, but there is a stark contrast between the two.
In traditional wrestling, the goal is to pin your opponent to the mat by using your arms, while MMA allows kicking and boxing to be used to take down the opponent.
Similarities between the two, according to Lopez, are the necessity to be in shape and possess toughness.
Other wrestlers recruited by the Panthers have a solid varsity wrestling past, according to Pacheco, which makes Lopez a difficult recruit.
Ultimately, Lopez hopes that being competitive and competing for the Panthers will make him a better MMA fighter, but said his focus is on helping the wrestling team win above all else next semester.