University of Oklahoma is known for its history rich tradition along with a high standard for academic and athletic achievement. The Sooners hold 22 NCAA National Championships in multiple sports along with seven additional titles in football (football titles are not awarded by the NCAA). The football program has produced five Heisman Trophy winners. The men’s gymnastics team has won ten national titles. The University is also home to the fourth most decorated NCAA wrestling program in the nation, a program which like football, has produced seven national championships. The Sooners have developed multiple elite professionals to include names like Adrian Peterson, Blake Griffin, and others. The University has no shortage of tremendous athletes competing in many sports all over the world. One area where OU has struggled to keep up with rivals however, has been one of the most popular, if not the most popular and fastest rising sport of the past decade, mixed martial arts (MMA).
Oklahoma State University, OU's biggest rival, leads convincingly in collegiate wrestling accolades and paces the NCAA ranks with 34 national championships while also pacing the rivalry with MMA achievements. The OSU wrestling program has produced big names for the sport of MMA to include current UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Daniel Cormier, former UFC Welterweight Champion Johny Hendricks, along with infamous pioneers of the sport, notably Don Frye and Randy Couture. Likely the most notable OU alum who ventured into MMA, is current Oklahoma City police officer and UFC veteran Matt "The Real One" Grice. Grice also founded and currently operates R-1 MMA, a training academy in Choctaw for up and coming fighters looking to make an impact in the sport.
One such fighter training under "The Real One", is OU student and standout athlete Kyle Driscoll. Driscoll, a business management major who played on the OU rugby team during their Big 12 Championship 2013-14 season, has big dreams of being the first OU student-athlete to challenge for a UFC title. Attending the University of Oklahoma has opened doors for this talented fighter who strives to graduate in less than two years, all while maintaining his active status and rise in the world of MMA rankings.
On Saturday, September 10th, at Remington Park Casino in Oklahoma City, Driscoll (3-1 as a professional) will look to take that first important step towards putting himself and his university back on the map in MMA. He will fight for the State of Oklahoma Lightweight Championship (155 pounds) against battle tested and dangerous Texas contender Marcus Penland. Driscoll has been training hard and looks to make a statement by adding the 155 lb. MMA title to a long list of OU success in the sports world. In a way, he also seeks to bridge the wide gap between the MMA accolades of rival Oklahoma State and his University of Oklahoma.
We asked Driscoll about how he is able to manage the balance between his education, training, and life, to which he happily responded, “Going to school like this is really great with pursuing a dream of fighting in the UFC, because you get so many friends that back you in your career and want to see your journey to the top!” Driscoll knows that in a sport as competitive as MMA, dedication, just as in education, is a key component of future success. As he prepares for the biggest fight of his life, he is not fazed. With loyal support from family, friends, and fellow OU students, he truly believes that greatness is right around the corner.
Come September 10th, Driscoll will have the chance to write himself into the record books but it will not come easy, as the opponent who will be standing across from him has different plans and looks to spoil the party.