Jarod Trice turned down a solid offer from the WWE for NXT, and instead focused on his Olympic dream. And while that dream was dashed, he knew he wasn’t done competing — instead turning out to be another important part of Bellator MMA’s youth movement.
Another piece of Bellator’s youth movement puzzle, Jarod Trice, returns to action at Bellator 205 in Boise, ID this Friday. There, Trice will be looking to stay undefeated and add a fourth straight win to his resume. The Detroit, Michigan native will be fighting for the second time this calendar year, a first in his young career. Hoping to stay healthy and get active, the three time All-American NCAA wrestler is facing Sean Powers (9-6), who comes in 3-3 in his past six fights.
We caught up with Trice ahead of Bellator 205, where he told us about turning down the WWE, and being part of Bellator’s impressive crop of rookies.
While Trice has done most of his work in the cage thus far with his hands, he of course has his wrestling base to fall back on. “You gotta respect that takedown, no matter who you are,” he said of what has become one of MMA’s most important disciplines. “It doesn’t matter if you’re an All-American wrestler or not. Wrestling’s wrestling. You’ve got to always respect the takedown.”
“WWE NXT at the time flew me down, offered me a decent contract. I turned it down, because why would I want to throw away something I’d been working my whole life for?”
With that wrestling background, you know Trice is no stranger to tournaments. With Bellator currently holding two Grand Prix tournaments (at heavyweight and welterweight), Trice, heading down towards middleweight, is open to joining another.
“Most definitely. I can see that happening in the future,” he told us. “Pretty soon. Right now, I’m just building on my craft, putting things together to make me a better fighter. It’s only been a short time in my career, there’s no rush for me right now. I’m just building and building and building.”
It’s a career he chose over a pro wrestling opportunity with the WWE. Back around 2014-2015, Trice was preparing for U.S. Olympic team trials. “My goal my entire life had been to make the Olympic team and win an Olympic medal,” he explained. “It didn’t happen, but WWE NXT at the time flew me down, offered me a decent contract. I turned it down, because why would I want to throw away something I’d been working my whole life for?”
Instead of taking the easy money, Trice stayed true to his Olympic dream. “If it was about money right away, I would have done it,” he continued. “But I had a plan on making the Olympic team first. Once I didn’t make this last Olympic team, I knew in my heart and my mind I wasn’t done competing. I knew I wanted to do MMA, I’d been thinking about it for years, and I just finally gave in and went to go do it.”
Despite turning down the WWE’s offer, pro wrestling is something he’d be open to in future. For now, however, he’s part of a growing youth movement in Bellator. Being part of that is “pretty awesome, honestly,” Trice told us. There’s a certain bond with some of the fighters involved. “Me, Ed [Ruth], Tyrell [Fortune], [Aaron] Pico, and Joey [Davis]. We all pretty much were in the same little area of wrestling.” Trice feels the group of them has impressed by making a significant amount of noise after barely two years of competition. “We’re making a lot of noise already. Two guys that are fighting main cards already. Ed’s already fighting in the welterweight world grand prix. Pico’s on main cards knocking fools out with body shots. Joey’s undefeated, Tyrell’s undefeated, and myself,” he said. “I like what we have going on. I like what I have going on. It’s pretty awesome to be a part of a great group of guys like that.”
The next step in the evolution of Jarod Trice comes against Sean Powers at Bellator 205. From what he’s seen of his opponent, “I just know that he’s kind of slow, but it doesn’t really matter. I know he’s going to throw some kicks in there, here and there.” What does matter is that Powers is “coming up to a heavier weight class. We’re doing a catchweight at 190. That’s a big deal. That’s a big thing. He was never a middleweight fighter.” With Trice himself dropping down in weight, he’s “planning to get the finish.”
“A guy like Sean Powers, who’s coming up in weight, I don’t think he realizes the power from a guy up a weight class like myself.”
“I’m really looking forward to fighting [at] 185,” Trice said of dropping weight. “This is my first time down at this weight. 190lbs, to be truthful, I haven’t seen 190lbs since I was in sixth grade, maybe seventh grade. This is a big deal for me, big thing for me, getting down to the weight. I’m not too far over, maybe eight pounds, nine pounds [at two weeks out]. It’s a big deal.” A key factor will be his heavy hands. “I can bring a lot of power down to 185. I like to think of myself as already having fast hands, so I don’t think speed will be a difference.”
“A guy like Sean Powers, who’s coming up in weight, I don’t think he realizes the power from a guy up a weight class like myself,” Trice added.
Now working with a meal prep guy, and hitting the gym hard, Trice explained that “I’m working out so much now. I actually enjoy working out. I’m doing a lot of cardio in the morning. Lifting and conditioning.” It all amounts to “a lot of stuff that I didn’t take serious back then when I was in college, as far as conditioning wise. I’m taking it real serious now. I feel like my body’s just holding up really well. I’m feeling really strong. I’m just leaning out overall. Putting in a lot of hard work.”
Trice announced the bout with Powers at the end of August, but knew about the date a little before that. He just didn’t know who he was fighting. “Honestly I really don’t care about the other guy.”
“I’m more worried about what I’m doing myself. But at the same time, he actually pretty much reached out and contacted me and said he wanted to fight me. It was a respectful way, how he asked,” Trice said. “But I still feel like he called me out, and I’m going to make him pay for it.” Yes that’s right, Trice got his latest opponent when Powers slid into his DMs.
That means he’s expecting the fight to end “in a finish. I’m not saying how, but I’m looking for a finish.”
Don’t miss Jarod Trice taking on Jarod Powers at Bellator 205 on Friday, September 21 as part of the preliminary action airing live on Cageside Press.