Rider grad knocks out the competition in UFC debut

Alumnus Nick Catone, who graduated in 2004, made his UFC fighting debut on Feb. 7. Catone defeated fellow rookie Derek Downey in two rounds, helping him to move up in the ranks of the mixed martial arts world.By Michael Mack

Watch out Jason Thompson! There’s a new Bronc hitting the professional sports scene. Alumnus Nick Catone entered the world of professional athletics on Saturday. But it’s not the NBA Catone debuted in. Instead, Catone stepped into the octagon and kicked off his career in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).

Catone, a 2004 graduate, had 100 career wins as a wrestler with the Broncs. He was also a two-time conference champ, a two-time national qualifier and was ranked as high as seventh in the nation in his 184 lb. weight class.

Catone said he feels that wrestling at Rider has helped prepare him for his career in the UFC.

“It’s definitely great to have that Division I wrestling experience in my pocket,” he said. “You gotta have one really good base. You can’t just come off the streets and hope to train and be in the UFC. You gotta have a background in something.”

In his first match, Catone went up against another man making his UFC debut, Derek Downey, an older and slightly bigger opponent. Despite this, Catone used his wrestling skills very early in the fight by avoiding a quick takedown. Downey was later able to get Catone on his back, but Catone quickly reversed and got himself in good position to throw some punches. Catone landed a few good shots before the end of the first round, leaving Downey with a baseball-sized welt on his head.

Catone dominated even more in the second round. He quickly put Downey on his back and began to work his submissions. At 1:15 into the second round, Catone made Downey submit to a keylock, which is an arm lock that essentially wrenches the shoulder. With this submission, Catone was able to chalk up his first win in the UFC.

The win will certainly move Catone up the ranks of the UFC’s 185 lb. middleweight class. There is no certain fight lined up for Catone now, although it is speculated that his next opponent may be Amir Sadollah, the winner of the UFC’s popular reality show, “The Ultimate Fighter.”

Sadollah and Catone were scheduled to meet twice in the past, but Sadollah backed out both times because of injury. Catone was definitely upset when he had heard his opponent backed
out, but if he is given another opportunity, we can expect to see a very fired up Catone.

There is no timetable for his next fight just yet, but it is likely for him to return in April or May.

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