The opportunity to pursue a mixed martial arts career was too much for Jeff Bedard to pass up, which is why the Wesleyan wrestling coach is stepping down as head coach.
"I'm really excited. It's a great opportunity and I couldn't pass it up," Bedard said. "I'm getting towards the end of my athletic career, so I needed to make a run at this right now while I can."
Bedard, who was the Daily Post's Coach of the Year after leading the Wolves to the 2007 state duals title, will stay with the Wesleyan wrestling program as an assistant coach and Jeff Plunk will take over as head coach. Plunk, a Parkview graduate, is currently the wrestling coach at Westminster.
The 37-year-old Bedard is stepping down as head coach so he can train full time at Paul Creighton's Mixed Martial Arts in Duluth. The first of his five fights in the World Extreme Cagefighting will be June 3 in Las Vegas in the 135-pound division. The fight will be televised live on the Versus network.
In just his third year at the Norcross private school, Bedard led Wesleyan to new heights. The Wolves captured their first state championship with a duals state title and then placed second at the traditional tournament.
"I'm going to still be here coaching," Bedard said. "I'll be here everyday and still train them."
Bedard has an extensive background in wrestling, not only as a coach, but as a wrestler. He was a four-time state finalist and won three state titles in high school. Bedard also wrestled and coached at the college level, which will certainly help in MMA, which combines wrestling, judo, ji-jitsu, kickboxing and other combat sport disciplines.
In five years of MMA competition, Bedard is undefeated with a career record of 9-0. His most recent fight was last August in Atlanta when he won by submission.
Since the reemergence of the Ultimate Fighting Championship in recent years, MMA has taken off.
UFC fights routinely sell out at arenas across the U.S. and pay-per-view sales rival boxing and the World Wrestling Federation. The WEC is owned by Zuffa, LLC the same company that owns the UFC.