Former Fresno State University wrestling star, Casey “The Underdog” Olson, will attempt to extend his undefeated professional mixed martial arts cage fighting record to 4-0 before a home crowd at The Save Mart Center on Saturday, October 7th. The 26-year-old’s effort will come as part of the 10-bout Strikeforce card being headlined by a showdown between former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) superstars David “Tank” Abbott and Paul “The Headhunter” Buentello.
“This is pretty much like the World Series of baseball for a baseball player,” said Olson, a lifetime Fresno resident, of the opportunity to fight in his hometown’s most prominent arena. “The whole reason of me staying at Fresno State when I wrestled was to be around my friends and family. For everybody to have been able to watch me wrestle and, now, this, it’s really a dream come true for me.”
In his fourth career start in the cage, Olson, a 5 foot 9 inch, 155 pound limit competitor, will take on 19-year-old kickboxing and submission wrestling stylist, Bobby “The Kid” Sanchez. Fighting out of Rancho Cucamonga, Sanchez brings to the cage a record of 1-1.
Olson earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Recreation Administration from the university in May 2004. On January 6th of that year, he reached the pinnacle of his wrestling career when his team faced the Iowa State University squad at Save Mart. The event, which set a new record for attendance at a collegiate wrestling match by drawing nearly 10,000 spectators, pitted Olson against Travis Paulson, the nation’s number two ranked 149-pound limit competitor at the time.
After the matchup with Paulson was sent into overtime twice, Olson finally emerged victorious by a one point margin. “It was everything I’ve ever dreamed of – like when you’re growing up being a baseball player, you always dream of that 3-2 count while you’re at bat and there being two outs and bases loaded and the game’s on the line,” explained Olson, whose win during the match helped earn him a year-end NCAA Division I national ranking of 10. His ability to overcome a much higher ranked opponent also spawned Olson’s nickname.
Last August, Olson made an impressive professional mixed martial arts debut by scoring a knockout on Rolland Parli with only two seconds remaining in the first round of their matchup that took place on an Indian reservation in Lemoore. Olson’s two other appearances, which came on January 13th of this year and August 17th of this year, respectively, both resulted in three round decisions in his favor.
“I tell everybody that I’m not a great fighter. I’m a good competitor,” said Olson. “I’ve always been in sports and wanted to compete in things.”
In the midst of his collegiate career, the wrestling star also befriended UFC superstar Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell and, soon after, began intermittently working out with the seasoned fighter at Liddell’s training camp, The Pit. His occasional visits gradually increased and, following his commencement from school, Olson decided to make the commitment to becoming a fighter.
The work he has put in at The Pit has helped Olson bolster his ability to fight on his feet, a skill essential to success in the mixed fight world. “I know how to throw my hands now. It’s just a matter of becoming more comfortable in that situation,” explained Olson. “For Chuck, his natural thing is to stand up – to throw. For me, if something goes wrong, my natural thing is to take somebody down and go right to the ground.”
Tickets for the October 7th Strikeforce event are on sale at Ticketmaster (559-485-TIXS) and Ticketmaster online (www.ticketmaster.com) as well as at the Save Mart Center box office and at select Save Mart supermarkets. Tickets are priced at $201.75, $151.75, $101.75, $76.75, $51.75, and $31.75.
Presented by BodogFIGHT (www.bodogfight.com), the card will also feature a highly-anticipated matchup between top lightweight (155-pound limit) contenders Josh “The Punk” Thomson and Duane “Bang” Ludwig as well as a heavyweight contest between Wesley “Cabbage” Correira and Ruben “Warpath” Villareal. Bobby Southworth, a veteran of the premiere season of Spike TV’s The Ultimate Fighter, will face off with Anthony “A-Train” Ruiz. Jason “Live Wire” Von Flue, a veteran of the second season of the Spike reality series, will do battle with Eric Wray. All bouts are subject to approval by the California State Athletic Commission.
The Save Mart Center is home to the Fresno State University men’s and women’s basketball teams as well as minor league hockey squad, The Fresno Falcons.
Strikeforce is a world-class mixed martial arts cage fight promotion that, on Friday, March 10th, made history with its “Shamrock vs. Gracie” event, the first sanctioned mixed martial arts fight card in California state history. The star-studded extravaganza, which pitted legendary champion Frank Shamrock against Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt Cesar Gracie at San Jose’s HP Pavilion, played host to 18,265 fans, the largest-ever attendance at a mixed martial arts fight card held in North America.