Well into the 2000's, you would hear people excitedly talk about some wrestler transitioning to MMA, with the understanding that any good amateur wrestler would dominate, or at least have considerable success in the sport. I found this to be absolutely loony, as not only was this wrong back in the 2000's...it wasn't even true in the 1990's! Now of course, wrestling was and still is the single most important skill in MMA, as well as the best base to have. The overwhelming majority of champions in MMA have at least decent wrestling. However, could a wrestling champion who competes in MMA have great success solely through his wrestling and no other skills? Not by a long shot! Even guys like Mark Coleman, Kevin Randleman, and yes, even Dan Severn needed to adapt their wrestling and learn new skills. Consider these examples of wrestlers who didn't, all from the 1990's, going from most to least successful; Kevin Jackson- Perhaps the greatest wrestler to ever compete in MMA for more than a one-off, wrestling legend Kevin Jackson was an Olympic gold medalist and 2-time world champion who was only 32 years old (two years removed from his last world championship) when he got into MMA. He had some limited success, winning the UFC 14 light-heavyweight tournament, beating a respectable opponent for the time in Tony Fryklund in the finals, even if Tony was a good 20 pounds lighter than him. And yet, the very next fight, he was subbed by Frank Shamrock, smaller than him by at least 10 pounds, in all of 16 seconds with an armbar. A learning experience, right? And yet, in his return to the UFC, Kevin Jackson ended up losing in a grueling 10+ minute match to Jerry Bohlander, also by armbar. In this fight, Jackson showed a complete lack of top control and ground-and-pound, as well as poor submission defense. Could Jackson, if he worked hard, have corrected these flaws and become one of the top fighters of his day? Maybe. But the point is, his WRESTLING ALONE was not enough. Instead of putting in the hard work, though, Kevin Jackson retired after a quick victory over Sam Adkins, going back to amateur wrestling and later becoming a coach. Royce Alger- There was a lot of hype surrounding Royce Alger when he debuted in the UFC. Training at Hammer House with Mark Coleman, he was a 2-time NCAA national champion, including going undefeated in his final 78 matches. Many thought he would have similar success to Coleman, only at light heavyweight. Instead, he was armbarred in a minute and a half by Enson Inoue at UFC 13, a huge upset at the time, and after 3 easy wins against bums in Iowa, was knocked out by Eugene Jackson at UFC 21. Similar to Jackson, he didn't have any skills other than his wrestling, and that turned out not to be enough. Inoue and Jackson are quite a step down from Frank Shamrock and Bohlander, too. Gary Myers- Gary Myers made a more concerted effort to make it in MMA than either Jackson or Alger, fighting 25 times from 1995 all the way to 2008, and working as a MMA promoter to this day. And yet, he had less success than either of them. Myers was a member of the US Army Wrestling team and very nearly missed making the Olympic team at the trials prior to competing at the first-ever Extreme Fighting 1, an organization founded by then UFC-matchmaker John Perretti. And yet, while he managed to beat bums, Myers would always lose to any skilled fighter of his day, including those massively smaller than his 220 pounds. He lost to Marcus Conan Silveira, he lost to Jeremy Horn, he lost to Yuki Kondo, and even the very limited Wallid Ismail. While Myers' takedowns were predictable and one-dimensional, he did mostly manage to get his opponents on their backs. However, once there, he had no clue what to do. His ground-and-pound was so poor he made Dan Severn's ground-and-pound look like prime Mark Coleman crossed with prime Tito Ortiz by comparison. Roger Neff- A giant brute of a wrestler at 270 pounds, Neff was an excellent Greco-Roman wrestler who almost made the 1988 Olympics as a 21 year-old but barely lost in the Olympic Trials finals. Not only did Neff have the same problems as the fighters above did, but he was very easy to hit and hurt standing up, a flaw that Petey Williams needed all of 6 seconds to exploit. Paul Buentello knocked him out in 3 minutes early on his career, too. Sadly, Neff passed away in 2013 at the age of just 46. Eric Heberstreit- While not successful, all the fighters we've looked at so far have had winning records, even if barely and thanks to 90's bums. Heberstreit, by contrast, stands at just 0-1. Heberstreit was not a great wrestler, but surely, being a Division 1 college wrestler should have been enough to win an undercard bout on IFC 1 Kombat in Kiev, right? Unfortunately, he was matched against John Lober, a competent fighter whose final record doesn't do him justice, as he owns a victory over a young Frank Shamrock. Things started out well for Heberstreit in that fight, as he got a quick, nice takedown. But once there, Lober, who knew BJJ, tied him up, then performed a move that had never been done in MMA until then, to my knowledge. Namely, he put his feet against the cage and kicked off. In the process he swept Heberstreit. Like most pure wrestlers, Heberstreit was absolutely helpless off his own back. After being pounded on by Lober, he gave up his back and then tapped to a RNC. Realizing that success in MMA would be far from easy, and looking shellshocking after the beating he took on the bottom, Heberstreit would never compete in the sport again.