ProElite: NCAA champion wrestler Mark Ellis plans to win MMA debut tonight over Jake Heun

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Another wrestler is transitioning into the sport of mixed martial arts (MMA). It's not a new concept. It's not earth-shattering.

That being said, a lot of people think it's bigger than that when referencing Mark Ellis' move into the world of MMA. They think he's special and has some serious potential.

Why all the hype? Ellis was the 2009 NCAA Division I Heavyweight Champion in the sport of men's wrestling. His pedigree is upper echelon. From a grappling perspective, Ellis has it figured out.

But how effectively can he take his wrestling knowledge and background and transition that into a new and foreign sport?

He thinks he'll be very effective:

"I say this as humbly as I can, but winning a national title...not everyone can do that," he explains. "My style of wrestling translates well (to MMA). And, there just aren't many collegiate wrestlers in MMA that have won a national title. But the wrestlers that understand how to grind and work hard and push themselves, they are most likely going to be successful. And I feel that I'm part of that group."

Ellis will follow in some favorable footsteps when he makes his ProElite debut. Rashad Evans, Matt Hughes, Cain Velasquez, Josh Koscheck, Brock Lesnar, "King Mo" Muhammad Lawal and Daniel Cormier. Those are just some of the names of wrestlers who transitioned very well into the sport of MMA.

Three of those men (Velasquez, Lawal and Cormier) are training partners of Ellis. He has used them as assets in his training and believes it will be a big advantage for him. 

"It's been everything," he says. "We have a real good schedule at AKA, so I've been working on everything. I've noticed that other wrestlers that have come into MMA don't wrestle, but I still do. We do that at AKA. I have been focused on my striking, of course, but my wrestling has even gotten better. I've also been working on my jiu-jitsu, which has come pretty naturally. I think I've got a knack for it."

Ellis' opponent has a similar background. Though Jake Heun was not a wrestler, he did play middle linebacker for the University of Hawaii as a scholarship football player. He has a slight advantage over Ellis in that he does already have one MMA fight under his belt.

Ellis doesn't know a lot about Heun, but he is confident that he will be ready.

"I don't know much about Heun. He's a Division I athlete, though, so I imagine he's big, strong, and athletic. I'm going to be ready for him."

As for predictions, Ellis believes he has what it takes to get the job done.

"They'll most likely see me with my hand raised at the end, he declares. "I'm hoping that it will be exciting, but the most important thing is that I get the victory. I need to get to 1-0, and then take it from there. But I plan to come out of the cage with my head held high."

Check out MMAMania.com for all the latest info and updates on ProElite.

Be sure to also tune into MMAMania.com tonight at 1:00 a.m. ET for the LIVE recap of the ProElite promotion debut. Come hang out with the other Maniacs as we talk some MMA and ride out Hurricane Irene RIGHT HERE!

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