Former Wyoming Cowboy Wrestler Archie Colgan Moving up in MMA Competition
From the desk of Kevin DeVries/Wyoming Athletic Department
LARAMIE – Archie Colgan’s last match as a Cowboy wrestler came on March 16, 2018 at the NCAA Championships. It was not, however, the last time the 2018 157-pound Big 12 Champion would compete in a one-on-one “battle”.
For the last year and a half, the former University of Wyoming wrestler has been competing in Mixed Martial Arts, fighting out of the Genesis Training Academy in Arvada, Colo. In late February of 2019, the Westminster, Colo., native began his MMA journey. Was a post-graduate fighting career always in the cards for Colgan?
“Yes and no,” said Colgan.
“I’ve always had a lot of interest in MMA growing up. I always thought in the back of my head that I could do this, but I was not planning on it while at Wyoming. I’ve always had that thought though, ‘yeah, I would do well. I could do this.’”
Colgan is 3-0 as an amateur and recently won the Sparta Sports & Entertainment Welterweight (170-pound) MMA Championship at Sparta Wyoming, which was held in Cheyenne. Colgan hopes to get five amateur bouts in before turning professional.
“I could have started my career off as a professional,” said Colgan.
“I could switch now, in five fights, in 10, it’s really up to you and your coaches on when you transition into being a professional. I know that personally, I wanted to make sure that I got some sort of experience, to really feel what it’s like to compete in MMA and be in different situations before turning pro. My coaches and I thought that five fights would be a good amount of fights and experience. It was good to get those first-fight jitters out of the way, because that was a real thing. Even competing 100s of times throughout my life with wrestling, it’s just different.”
At the Sparta Wyoming event, where Colgan defeated Jon Nelson in just 28 seconds via knockout to win the Welterweight Title, he had a familiar face in his corner -- current UW assistant coach Teyon Ware.
“We talk all the time,” said Colgan.
“We play Fortnite together almost every week. We have a really good relationship, we still text each other and we’re still really close. Unfortunately the head coach of my gym, his daughter got into a car accident a couple of days before the fight, she is getting better right now. So on short notice I texted Teyon and asked if he wanted to corner me and he said ‘yeah, for sure.’
“We did talk a little that moving forward, he would be willing to help me with my wrestling workouts and send me things based off of my style of wrestling and how I could help implement them into my fighting. He joked with me and said he wants to go to Abu Dhabi with me some day.”
Abu Dhabi is where the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s (UFC) “Fight Island” is located. The UFC has been holding some of its events there during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As of now, Colgan fights in the welterweight division at 170 pounds after wrestling at 157 while at UW.
“In college, I wasn’t an exceptional cutter for 157. By the time the heart of the season came around, my natural weight would come down. I would lose some muscle mass and got smaller, but it just ended up being 10 pounds a week. But that was pretty average. I probably lost about 8 pounds of natural muscle, but people on the team cut harder than me.”
“The reasoning behind going to 170 right now is, first, I got bigger since college, but mainly the thing is, I don’t want to focus on cutting weight right now. I want to focus on training and getting better. I don’t want to go into practice and think ‘ok, I have to lose five pounds today. I have to lose this much, I have to lose that much.’
"When I’m just learning the sport, I wanted to make sure I had a good understanding of what I’m doing. I want to go to practice and just focus on getting better and not having anything else to worry about. I’m going there every day to try and get a percent better every practice. That’s my mindset behind it. Also, I feel like I’m strong for my weight. Therefore, I have an advantage cutting only 5 pounds while others at my weight are cutting 15 pounds. I can still be stronger than those guys, faster than those guys and not have to cut as much.”
As a Cowboy, Colgan won 111 matches during his wrestling career, the 13th-most in program history and was a two-time NCAA Tournament qualifier. So how does his wrestling background give him an advantage in the world of MMA?
“I think it definitely helps, wrestling in itself is such a powerful tool when it comes to MMA” said Colgan.
“I think the part that’s most important to the success of wrestlers in MMA is the mindset behind wrestling. Understanding that it’s going to take a 1,000 reps before you get this right or 10,000. It’s going to take practice every day. A wrestler knows that they need three hours of work a day to do this and get better. I know that I have to look like a fool a few times hitting this move before I can make it look beautiful. The mindset of not taking “no” for an answer, to keep pushing and keep going and knowing that it takes every day to get to that level.”
“Also, the understanding of knowing how to drill better than most. Wrestling for 15 years, you know how to move your feet with your hands. You start off with a very good base and then when you add the mindset behind it, it can really rocket people.”
Colgan’s end goal is to become a professional fighter and eventually make it into the ranks of the UFC.
“The world’s not perfect, but in a perfect world I’ll get two more amateur fights before the end of this year. Then by the end of 2021, I’ll have four professional fights under my belt, that’d be ideal for me. So a fight once every three months. In my head, I think to myself that I’ve got to get going, I’ve got fights that I have to get, to compete. There’s people that are my age that are in the UFC already or a place like that. I’ve got some ground to make up, especially now while my body is still young and everything feels good.”
Colgan isn’t the only recent UW grad to try his hand at MMA though, as former teammate Bryce Meredith also has begun a fighting career. Meredith, who along with Colgan also won a Big 12 Championship in 2018, became the first Cowboys to win Big 12 titles.
“We used to all watch the fights together when they were on in college,” said Colgan.
“We never specifically talked about both getting into this though. We did talk about how we’d like to do it or how we thought we would be good at it, but we didn’t discuss it back then. It’s a cool journey though, that I have someone that I know doing this. Even though we’re not training together necessarily, we’re still doing this together.”
The journey is just beginning for Archie Colgan in the world of MMA but if the start to his career is any indication of his future in the sport, it certainly is a bright one for the former Cowboy.