For the first time, Olympic gold medalist David Taylor is contemplating a potential move into MMA.
After attending UFC 281 this past Saturday, the 31-year-old Penn State alum said fighting is something he might want to explore.
That isn’t something Taylor would have said a couple of years ago. Although no decisions have been made yet, Taylor is still intrigued by this possibility. He knows how his wrestling heritage could be of benefit.
” “I believe in wrestling, I have accomplished all I wanted to achieve,” Taylor said on The MMA Hour . “Winning a second Olympic gold medal in Paris in 2024 is top priority.
“But, in order to be the greatest combat athlete ever, I would need to step into the Octagon. Is that going to happen? I don’t know yet, but I’m definitely considering it more than I’ve ever considered it before.”
After winning a gold medal in the 2020 Olympic Games,
Taylor has been widely regarded as one of America’s top wrestling stars. He’s also a three-time gold medalist at the World Championships in addition to two NCAA championships and becoming a four-time All-American at Penn State.
Taylor is aware that wrestling isn’t fighting. This is why he isn’t just jumping in headfirst into it without considering his long-term goals.
” If that’s what I’m looking for, then you know exactly what you are up against,” Taylor stated. You understand that people do this every day for their entire lives. It’s no joke.
“It’s a livelihood. Although it’s my profession, I have been competitive at the highest levels all of my life. I will always be better than anyone else when it comes to competing. If I choose to make that decision, then it’s the best. It could be something that’s really exciting but again, it’s a different world. There’s definitely different risks assessed with it but there’s a lot of reward as well.”
Wrestling has arguably served as the best foundation to learn MMA with a long list of champions and top contenders coming from the discipline.
As much as wrestling might give him the perfect launching pad to get into fighting, Taylor acknowledges there’s no way to truly prepare for the kind of damage that can be inflicted in MMA, and that’s far different from his current sport of choice.
“From a combat sports standpoint, wrestlers can make that transition and do really well,” Taylor said. “But it’s a definitely a different path. You’ve got an understanding when you walk in an arena, some people go and celebrate with their family, some go to the hospital. In wrestling, that’s not the case. Worst-case scenario, you get taken down, you get beat. You’re not beaten. Although your ego may hurt, you are frustrated. But you learn to regroup so you can continue wrestling the next day.
“Fighting’s a different world with that kind of stuff. I think it definitely takes a different mentality and have a really clear purpose for those that decide to go that route.”
If Taylor makes the U.S. Olympic team to compete at the 2024 games in Paris, he will be just a few months shy of his 34th birthday, which means time will not be on his side if he opts to pursue a career in MMA.
There are definitely examples of fighters who made the move into MMA at a later age; two-time Olympian Daniel Cormier tops that list of names. But even then Cormier transitioned into fighting when he was 31, which gave him a three-year advantage over Taylor.
Taylor is certain that he can make an impact on the sport, if that’s his career choice. But he won’t know anything for certain until after 2024.
“Wrestling is an amazing sport, but it’s a niche sport,” Taylor said. “Whereas MMA is something that’s viewed all around the world. I think that your competitive juices get flowing. Like OK, this is kind of next level. It’s exciting.
“As a competitor, you want to seek out and you want to be the best. That’s what I did in wrestling. Now how many more times can you continue doing that again? I could see if that was a path that I chose, it’s something new and exciting. It’s a new task. This is a new task. It’s possible to be reenergized. You’d be chasing greatness and that’s something that interests me.”