After failing to qualify for the U.S. Olympic freestyle wrestling team less than two weeks ago, Shawn Bunch, one of the top American freestyle wrestlers, has turned his attention to mixed martial arts.
According to sources close to the situation, Bunch has signed a multi-fight contract with Bellator Fighting Championships. The deal is expected to be officially announced by the organization later this week.
The 29-year-old Bunch is scheduled to debut for the promotion in the fall as a bantamweight. He will compete in an undetermined amount of non-tournament fights before getting a chance to qualify for an upcoming 135-pound tournament.
Bunch, a former U.S. National and Pan-American champ, was consider by many wrestling pundits to be a favorite for the final spot on the 2012 U.S Olympic freestyle wrestling team, however, he lost to Coleman Scott last week at a wrestle-off in Times Square.
The five-foot-five Bunch graduated from Edinboro University with a career amateur wrestling record of 132-24. He finished second in the 2005 NCAA Championships and third in the 2006 tournament.
According to the same sources, Bunch, an official member of the famed Team Thirtsy, will join the American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, Calif. He will enter Bellator without any amateur or pro MMA fights on his resume.