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The lone Greco-Roman matchup on Chael Sonnen’s Wrestling Underground 1 was a matchup between Ravaughn Perkins and two time Olympian, Ben Provisor. Provisor took the match 10-9 and many called it match of the night. Provisor is getting ready to transition from wrestling to mixed martial arts and spoke with us about his career and what’s next for him and his team.
Provisor started wrestling at a very, very young age. His mom took him to a tournament and saw something in her kid that could be better than what she was seeing on the mat. A couple decades later, Provisor is now a two time Olympian and has medaled at the Pan American Championships, including a couple gold medals.
“My mom was with her girlfriend to a wrestling tournament. I was a super competitive kid and as soon as she saw what those kids were doing, she thought I would like it. I got into wrestling when I was five years old. I’ve been wrestling for 25 years now and haven’t had a real job. It’s definitely the right thing for me to do.”
Ben Provisor on Wrestling Underground 1
As mentioned at the top, Ben Provisor was victorious on the inaugural Wrestling Underground card. It was a high flying match with several big throws. Provisor was excited to be able to represent his corner of the sport of wrestling and thinks that he and Perkins both put on a fantastic show for fans and represented Greco-Roman wrestling well.
“I thought it was awesome, it was really fun. It was really bright, with the TV production, I had never been in a cage or a wrestling arena that was that bright. I think the cage made it a little smaller, it made the Greco match a little less space to have action. We go in there and both of us knew we wanted to make it a fun match. So, that’s what we did. We wen’t out there and started throwing each other and showed the world what Greco-Roman is about. I think Greco gets a bad rap in the United States just because it’s the least popular and it’s the least watched and understood. So I think we wanted to have a match like that in order to show the type of technique we can execute and show how good our athletes really are. We just don’t get a chance to expose it on the senior level as much as freestylers do.”
There were some questions fans have had about the cage at Wrestling Underground. The fence fundamentally changed the sport with step outs and the likes. But, Provisor enjoyed the cage and the canvas he wrestled on. As a whole, he thought that Sonnen and company did a good job putting on a fun card for fans to get exposure to wrestling like they haven’t before.
“I liked it. It had a little bounce in the cage, I liked that. If you got thrown, it didn’t hurt as bad. It wasn’t just straight on to a concrete mat. The cage did hurt a little bit. I did some WWE stuff and messed with the ropes before and I know those bruised up my ribs when I did a tryout in Orlando. I got a little bruised on my had from me hitting the cage. It was fun. Obviously it’s nice to get in a cage and being locked in there and actually wrestle because that’s what I’m moving to in my future. But, I thought it was a great event. We had six matches in under an hour. Production was great. I didn’t see so much as Chael doing commentary. A lot of people are saying he needed another person to help him out with play-by-play and stuff like that. It’s hard to do it all alone. I was just honored to be a part of it and happy we could show just how good our Greco is here in America.”
When asked if he would be back, Ben Provisor said all he needs is an invite. Wrestling on UFC Fight Pass was an awesome experience for the Olympian and he would jump at the opportunity to compete on the platform again.
“I will be there for any match he wants me for. Hopefully I can provide the same type of excitement we had and keep building it and hopefully continue to be on UFC Fight Pass. It’s a great opportunity to build a brand for wrestlers. I don’t think a lot of people understood it, but once it got on to UFC Fight Pass, then a lot of people saw and chimed in and wanted to be on it. Well, a lot of people had the opportunity to be on it and you just have to take advantage during these times. The more wrestling events we have, the better we’ll be off. People need something to do right now.”
Wrestling to MMA
Provisor has begun his transition to MMA. Having wrestled in some of the best places in the world, Ben Provisor took up coaching at the Bucknell RTC. With his transition, that will likely be coming to a finish, however.
“I’m at the Bucknell RTC. I was at Penn State for two years. Then, I moved on from there and moved to Bucknell and it was a little more of a coaching opportunity that arose. Unfortunately, I don’t think I’m going to be sticking around to coach because I’m going to be moving into my MMA career. It’s hard. It’s going to be almost impossible to coach and fight at the same time.”
Being the tier of athlete he is, Provisor knows what it takes to reach the top echelon of sports. He’s developed a workmanship that got him there. He also knows that, while he was just getting started, his career was on a collision course with MMA. He recalls the first flush left hook he’s thrown and how it made him feel.
“I’ve been in sports my whole life. I have never been in a fist fight or anything like that. I was always a good wrestler, so not too many guys would want to fight a good wrestler, so I understand. It was 2013 and I took third at the World Team Trials so I didn’t make the World Team and I had the summer off. I started mixing it up, going to these gyms and changing up my workouts to get something fresh. I started learning to box. Obviously, my kicking and striking needs to get better and obviously, my defense. But, when I first connected with a left hook and hit this guy clean, I never felt anything like that in my life. It was like a shot a of lightning through my hand straight into my chest. Soon as I felt that, I was addicted, dude. I knew exactly what I wanted to do when I was done wrestling.”
Greco-Roman fans need not fret. We will still get Ben Provisor making one more Olympic run. He still plans on wrestling tournaments after he’s “done” but we can expect him to focus on MMA after the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.
“This is my last go around for the Olympics. I was still planning on wrestling on the senior tour just because it provides wrestling for me and my daughter. So was was going to wrestle because I know I can still place in the top three and get my insurance. So, I’m still going to wrestler, but it’s obviously going to be focused on MMA after 2021. I will only wrestle one or two tournaments a year.”
While Ben Provisor has known that he was planning on fighting for some time, he hadn’t quite seen his wrestling career through yet. But, his training has started. What makes an athlete the caliber of Provisor so great is knowing where to get better. Being a wrestler, he knows his stand up is where is he should strive for better.
“I have been training since quarantine, so two or three months of pretty solid training. Now, I’m getting some better partners and getting some better coaches. Every Sunday I’ve been going down to Williamsport and working with some people. There’s a guy in our RTC that is really into MMA. Obviously, I have a lot to learn and my movement needs to get better, my head movement needs to get better, and my striking in general is going to need to improve. But, in 2013 I was in there with pros and I had never been close to fighting before. Now I have a lot more experience because I watch it and want to do it. I try to study stuff. I was eating up pros when I didn’t even know what I was doing. I know now with the skill set I have and what I’m learning now, I’m going to be a force to be reckoned with. I got a big neck, I got a big head, and I got thick hands. I’m going to hurt some people, I’m excited for it.”
When asked if he looks at wrestlers and Olympians in the UFC, like Jon Jones or Mark O. Madsen, Provisor sees one flaw in their fighting. He isn’t out there to get hit and is looking to adapt some of the blueprints of the best boxers and MMA fighters to avoid as much damage as possible.
“I think Mark gets hit too much. I think it’s a very typical wrestler thing for us to get hit a lot. I’m not looking to get hit all that much. I know I’m fast, athletic, and I know I have good eyesight. I’m really looking to out strike people, get in, get out. I know my style is going to be more Mike Tyson-esque on my feet trying to get in and get out, bobbing and weaving. It’s going to be very Cormier like getting inside ties because I am going to be shorter than people. I know once I get inside and people start feeling my power, it’s going to be a fun ride. I’m excited to take the wrestling community and anybody who has been there for me in my career in this final ride until the end of my career.”
Provisor is managed by Paradigm Sports Management, who has names like Conor McGregor and Manny Pacquiao as clients. Provisor is in a great spot and feels he’s got a team that’s behind him instead of in front of him. He feels Paradigm puts his interests first and looks to be mutually benefited by being partners. He was linked up with the company by the ever-controversial Pat Downey. Regardless, Provisor thinks this team is the best for him.
“I got really, really lucky. It was actually Pat Downey. He’s been going through a little bit of a time right now, I’ll call it. He was with Paradigm. He introduced me to them and Karl. I was with First Round Management who also manages Jon Jones and them. But, the feel that I got from them, I felt like they were just trying to make money off of me and didn’t really care about building my brand. Being with Paradigm, I can see a difference in the team. They got me verified on Instagram, just a bunch of steps they do as a team. I met 20 people on their team as an introduction to see how we’ re going to take steps in my career. Karl is a great, great guy. He’s a wrestling coach and got into MMA. I talked to him for almost an hour the first time we talked. The vibe was right. I want to be with them. I think I have a lot of potential to make a lot of money for them and I want my team to help the best they can. I want both of us to benefit mutually. Paradigm is a first class business and company that I can’t wait to help build in the future.”
The Burroughs Versus Dake Debate
As talked about in our interview with Montorie Bridges, there seems to be a universal attraction to Jordan Burroughs and Kyle Dake competing against each other. Much like Bridges, Ben Provisor thinks the lion in the jungle is still the king and thinks Burroughs will go on to represent team USA at 74 kilograms.
“From what I watched when they did their Flo thing, I do not believe Dake will have the gas tank to beat Burroughs at 74 kilos. He is going to be bigger possibly because of the pandemic, maybe he will trim down. But, I can’t go against Jordan. Everybody always says, ‘Nah, Dake is going to win.’ And then Taylor was there. Burroughs has never lost. I know there’s a big hype train behind Dake, I wish both of them nothing but the best. I hope they’re both at 100% and ready for each other. It’s a great match for everybody to watch. But, I got to pick the champ.”