Pat Downey has made the decision to make the switch from the wrestling world to cage MMA, but there’s still a short list of competitors he’d like to share the mat with, including UFC contender Khamzat Chimaev.
Downey recently signed an exclusive deal with Bellator to compete in the promotion’s middleweight division. The former USA Wrestling World Team and NCAA All-American is gearing up for his eventual MMA debut in 2022, but recently revealed his wrestling wishlist should the opportunity arise. These names include David Taylor, Jordan Burroughs and Bo Nickal.
For MMA fans, Chimaev’s name on the list stands out from the rest.
“I see him wrestling these guys who I think can’t wrestle shit,” Downey told MMA Fighting on We have the next. “He’s supposed to be Russian, a member of the Swedish national team – I don’t know if he’s wrestled internationally or has any references worth mentioning. I dunno, the guy looks like he has a similar body style to mine, kind of an upper body that plays games, and I feel like matches make matches. I feel like it would be a fan friendly game because we would get into situations where he would be thrown or be thrown.
“If you ever watch me wrestle, not many people can challenge my upper body. I’m usually the guy who does this stuff, so I think if he rode with me it would be a bad move for the guy.
Chimaev recently competed in a wrestling match against fellow UFC competitor Jack Hermansson in November, earning an 8-0 shutout victory in the process. “Borz” has been wrestling since he was five years old and he’s turned that experience into an undefeated mixed martial arts career.
Whether it’s a wrestling match or a wrestling event, Downey would absolutely be open to a fight with Chimaev – mostly for competitive reasons.
“I would just be excited about this game,” Downey said. “I don’t call bums, I call the best. It’s all my respect to the guy, I don’t put his name in my mouth because he sucks. I would love the opportunity to compete with him, that’s all it is.
Although he had incredible success during his wrestling career, he was also mired in controversy. The 29-year-old has found himself in trouble with the law several times over fights, which resulted in the revocation of a full scholarship to Penn State. Downey also came under fire for comments about women’s wrestling on social media, which led to her removal from the New Jersey Regional Training Center in 2019.
Downey was scheduled to compete in the 2020 U.S. Olympic Team Trials before the event was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He would go on to compete in the rescheduled event in March 2021 where Downey went 1-2 and finished fourth.
Looking ahead to a new career in the combat sports landscape, Downey, who is currently training at Miami’s Goat Shed Academy, said if it were up to him, he would make his Bellator debut at the next event map in Dublin. .
“I think late February, early March would be a good time,” Downey explained. “But I’m going to listen to my manager, my coaches because I’m stupid as shit. I’ll tell you I’m ready to leave tomorrow, but I just had a car accident, I buried my grandfather and I had [to take a week off], and I’m just too stupid to know otherwise. I just had a few bumps and bruises to heal – I don’t want to blow myself up too much – but we just need to find an opponent.
“I can’t imagine everyone is excited to fight me. You see other guys with wrestling accolades and they’re struggling to find an opponent. But for my debut, it doesn’t make sense to face a guy with a lot more experience than me. I’m sure picking that first opponent is going to be a bit difficult, but at the end of the day, I’m an athlete. I don’t think about that shit too much. I like to compete and I will be ready at any time.
“But I saw this Irish card at the end of February and it would be really sick. But I’ve been researching since I joined the promotion, planting seeds in people’s heads, planting antennae here and trying to to get the vibe of it all and see how it goes. But I’m definitely ready for that delay, I wouldn’t mention it if I wasn’t.
Although Downey is well aware that he has to pay his dues and earn his proverbial stripes in the world of MMA, he believes the foundation is already in place for success in the sport. If things go his way, Downey expects to give his fellow middleweights nightmares.
“I’m definitely coming,” Downey said. “You will see me soon. I am not a fighter who learns to fight, I am a fighter who learned to fight. I think everything I haven’t accomplished in the world of wrestling – which wasn’t much, I’ve done everything but win a world title and an Olympic title – but if I have the half the success I’ve had in the wrestling world in the fighting world, a lot of them [185-pounders] are f*cked.