Pat Downey has made the decision to transition from the wrestling world to the MMA cage, but there is still a short list of competitors he’d love to share the mat with, including surging 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 member and NCAA All-American is preparing to make his eventual MMA debut in 2022, but recently revealed his wrestling wish list should the opportunity present itself. Those names include David Taylor, Jordan Burroughs, and Bo Nickal.
For MMA fans, Chimaev’s name on the list stands out above the rest.
“I see him wrestling these guys that I don’t think can wrestle for sh*t,” Downey told MMA Fighting on We Got Next. “He’s supposed to be Russian this, Sweden national team member — I don’t know if he wrestled internationally or has any credentials worth mentioning. I don’t know, the dude looks like he has a similar body style to me, kind of upper body playing games, and I feel like matchups make matches. I feel like it would be a fan-friendly matchup because we would get into some situations where it’s throw or be thrown.
“If you ever watch me wrestle, not many people can challenge me upper body. I’m usually the guy doing that sh*t, so I think if he’d go up top with me it would be a bad move for the dude.”
Chimaev recently competed in a wrestling match against fellow UFC competitor Jack Hermansson in November, picking up an 8-0 shutout victory in the process. “Borz” has been wrestling since he was five years old and he has has parlayed that experience into an undefeated mixed martial arts career.
Whether it’s a wrestling match, or in a grappling event, Downey would absolutely be open to a bout with Chimaev — mostly for competitive reasons.
“I would just be excited about that match,” Downey said. “I don’t call out bums, I call out the best. It’s all respect to the guy, I’m not putting his name in my mouth because he sucks. I’d love the opportunity to compete against him, that’s all it is.”
While he had incredible success during his wrestling career, it was also mired with controversy. The 29-year-old found himself in trouble with the law multiple times stemming from fights, which caused the revocation of a full scholarship to Penn State. Downey also received criticism for comments made about women’s wrestling on social media, which led to his removal from the New Jersey Regional Training Center in 2019.
Downey was scheduled to compete at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials in 2020 before the event was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He would go on to compete at the rescheduled event in March 2021 where Downey went 1-2 and finished fourth.
With his sights set on a new career in the combat sports landscape, Downey, who is currently training at The Goat Shed Academy in Miami, says that if it were up to him, he would have his Bellator debut at the event’s upcoming card in Dublin.
“I think end of February, early March would be good timing,” Downey explained. “But I’m gonna listen to my manager, my coaches because I’m dumb as sh*t. I’ll tell you I’m ready to go tomorrow, but I just got in a car accident, buried my granddad, and had [to take a week off], and I’m just too dumb to know any differently. Just had some bumps and bruises to heal up — don’t want to put myself on blast too much — but we just need to find an opponent.
“I can’t imagine everyone’s excited to fight me. You see other guys with wrestling accolades and they have a hard time getting an opponent. But for my debut, it doesn’t make sense to fight a guy with a lot more experience than me. I’m sure picking this first opponent is going to be a bit of a process, but when it comes down to it I’m an athlete. I don’t think too much about that sh*t. I love to compete and I’ll be ready whenever.
“But I saw that Ireland card at the end of February and that would be freaking sick. But I’ve been doing some research since I joined the promotion, planting some seeds in people’s heads, planting some feelers here and trying to just get the vibe of this whole thing and see how it works. But I’m definitely ready for that timeframe, I wouldn’t mention it if I wasn’t.”
While Downey is well aware he needs to pay his dues and earn his proverbial stripes in the MMA world, he believes the foundation is already in place to find success in the sport. If things go the way he believes they will, Downey expects to give nightmares to his fellow middleweights.
“I’m definitely coming,” Downey said. “You guys will see me soon. I’m not a wrestler learning how to fight, I’m a fighter that learned how to wrestle. I think everything I didn’t accomplish in the wrestling world — which wasn’t very much, I did everything except win a world title and an olympic title — but if I have half the success that I did in the wrestling world in the fighting world, a lot of these [185-pounders] are f*cked.”