Bellator world champ to hold MMA clinic in Beaumont

Bellator world champ to hold MMA clinic in Beaumont

There aren’t many occasions where a mixed martial arts world champion comes to Beaumont to offer his services to help you become a better fighter or just learn more about the popular sport of MMA. In fact, I can’t think of a single one. Until now, that is.

Bellator’s undefeated welterweight champion Ben Askren (9-0) will come to Beaumont to host a MMA clinic at the West Brook Gymnasium on the campus of West Brook High School on Thursday, April 12, from 6-8 p.m. West Brook is at 8750 Phelan Blvd. in Beaumont.

“My mission is to improve MMA for all the kids in Southeast Texas and the schools to come together for this clinic,” said Dr. Greg Diaz, who is spearheading the event. “I want them to improve before the next time they step into the cage. These days, a lot of fighters want to skip certain aspects of the game and go straight to the cage, and you just can’t do that. I want to continue to help build MMA in this area and also help these kids develop into really good fighters.”

Askren, 27, began his pro MMA career in 2009 after an illustrious amateur wrestling career at the University of Missouri, where he was a two-time Division I national wrestling champion and a two-time Hodge Trophy winner, which is equivalent to the Heisman Trophy for college football.

Askren then qualified and competed for Team USA in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China. Adding to the long list of his accomplishments, Askren is a world class grappler as he was a participant at the 2009 ADCC Submission Wrestling World Championship in Barcelona, Spain, and he won a gold medal in the 2009 FILA World Grappling Championship in Florida as he defeated 2008 world champion Jacob Volkmann, who is currently a pro MMA fighter in the UFC.

The brown belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu won the Bellator welterweight title on Oct. 21, 2010, when he defeated Lyman Good and has since successfully defended his belt twice. Before he comes to Beaumont, he will defend his title April 6 in Windsor, Ontario, against “The Phenom” Douglas Lima (21-4), and it should will be Askren’s toughest fight to date.

Tickets for the clinic are $40 and can be purchased at American Top Team Beaumont (7310 Highway 105) and Texas Punishment Crew (6376 Phelan Blvd.) in Beaumont. Tickets will be $50 day of the event. Those who just want to watch and not participant can do so by purchasing $15 tickets.

Sponsoring the event along with Diaz is American Top Team-Beaumont; Texas Punishment Crew; West Brook Wrestling Booster Club; World Gym; Cotton Cargo; Reaud, Morgan and Quinn Law Firm; Mark Larson MD Plastic Surgery; Radiance Aesthetics; Guseman Homes; and the Cagesiders. Diaz also added that students from ATT-Beaumont, TPC and wrestlers from the West Brook team can attend the clinic free of charge.

There will also be a post-clinic after party at Major League Grill, 4430 Dowlen Road in Beaumont, which is free and open to the public.

“Ben has made the transition from wrestling to MMA,” said Diaz. “He is going to be teaching stuff that is hybrid of all aspects. He is a phenomenal wrestler, of course, and he is a beast in the grappling game. It’s hard to learn wrestling in one fight camp. It has to be taught over time, and this is a great way to begin.”

Proceeds will benefit the wrestling team at West Brook and local kids in fight schools.

Diaz, who is a partner and director of MRI at Radiology Associates, was born in Sterling Heights, Mich., which is a suburb of Detroit. He began wrestling at the age of 8 and carried the love of the sport into high school where he won a state title in freestyle wrestling and was named to the all-state team. Diaz then attended Grand Valley State and competed for the wrestling team until it was disbanded after Title IX was implemented.

“I moved to Southeast Texas in 2000,” said Diaz. “When my two boys were younger, I started the USA Wrestling program for about three years not only to help my two kids, but the kids at West Brook High School, but then it just fizzled out.”

Diaz explained about a year ago, he began training in Jiu- Jitsu at Texas Punishment Crew and working on Muay Thai at American Top Team- Beaumont and has since began training under Mike Berryhill at ATT-Beaumont as he prepares for his first amateur MMA fight.

“It has kind of been a bucket list thing for me to get into the cage at least once,” said Diaz. “Being a 43-year-old, I didn’t want to let my ego get in the way, so I have been testing myself against these kids just to make sure I am not going to make a fool out of myself.”

Diaz will fight 21-year-old Leville Simpson (3-3) on May 25 at Cage Combat in Humble.

Until then, he will be grappling with Askren in Beaumont.