Deron Winn Explains Why He’s Continued to Wrestle While Pursing MMA Career

Come the co-main event Saturday night at Liddell vs. Ortiz 3, Deron Winn certainly has an opportunity to make a name for himself, and the standout wrestler is hoping for a breakthrough performance.

Deron Winn is currently a hot prospect in MMA, and one of the rare cases where Bellator hasn’t snapped up a top wrestling prospect long-term. Winn, who fights out of Dethrone Base Camp alongside Ed Ruth and Chris Honeycutt, and is friends and sparring partners with UFC double champ Daniel Cormier, fought once for Scott Coker’s promotion. However, that was a one-fight deal, and Winn is keeping his options open.

That brings him to the co-main event at Liddell vs. Ortiz 3 on Saturday, under the Golden Boy MMA banner. It’s Oscar De La Hoya’s first attempt at promoting an MMA show, and while the card has had its share of criticism, the boxer-turned-promoter made a smart move in selecting Winn to feature. He’ll be taking on former UFC fighter Tom Lawlor, in his first fight back following a USADA suspension.

The pair had their first real interaction this week, at the final press conference before the fight. Speaking to Cageside Press, Winn said that Lawlor’s “been in this game a long time, so he knows what to say. I don’t know if he’s trying to get under my skin, or promote the fight or whatever.” However, the pro wrestler certainly did what he could to get some shots in — but it hasn’t fazed Winn any.

“I’m not scared, I’m prepared,” he said. “I know exactly what he has to offer. Everybody can talk a game, and try to act like they’re big time or whatever, or think he’s going to be the man after this. But at the end of the day, we’re going to find out. We’re going to step in that cage, it’s going to lock, and we’ll find out.”

While Lawlor has dabbled in pro wrestling, Winn is a decorated amateur wrestler who finished fourth at this year’s U.S. Open. Just weeks later, he fought in Bellator, then took part in wrestling’s World Team Trials. All in a matter of weeks.

Why Winn continues to pursue wrestling while competing as a pro fighter is simple. “There’s a lot of downtime as I build in my professional career in fighting. So I like to be active and competitive,” he explained. “For a guy like me, I like to stay in shape and train. That’s what’s best for me in the long run.”

“The more downtime I have, the worse it is for me,” he continued, and noted that new opportunities continued to arise in the wrestling world. “There were some new weights and now there’s these professional matches and stuff like that. So I saw these opportunities, and I pounced on them when I could.”

That said, Winn’s focus will likely switch mainly to MMA in the coming months, especially if all goes well this weekend. “I’m not going to lie, I probably won’t be doing it for much longer, because now my career’s about to jump off after Saturday night, and I’ll probably give wrestling the back seat,” he confessed. “But wrestling is what molded me into who I am today, so I love it, and I always will.”

As to what comes after Saturday, Winn’s interested in hearing all offers, be it from Golden Boy, Bellator, or the UFC. A breakthrough performance could certainly land him a big contract. Which makes his fight against Tom Lawlor key.