American wrestler Zion Clark was born without legs. Following a victory in his professional MMA debut match last month, he expressed his high aspirations for a future in the sport.
Most people find it impossible to imagine living their daily lives without legs. Also, it is difficult to see someone with such a condition succeeding in a sport like wrestling or MMA.
But there is no such thing as impossible for Clark. The 25-year-old was born without legs due to a rare condition called caudal regression syndrome, which causes the spine to grow abnormally.
Despite his disorder, Clark hasn’t allowed anything to stop him from pursuing his passion for competing in combat sports. That includes the difficult time when he had no wrestling victories between his freshman and sophomore years.
However, Clark went on to finish his senior year at Massillon Washington High School with a 33-15 record. Clark continued to strive for success.
The 25-year-old defeated Eugene Murray in a unanimous decision in December 2022 to make his professional mixed martial arts debut.
In a recent interview with BroBible, Clark remembered his first MMA match and spoke about his future plans for a combat sports career.
Clark stressed that the aim is still progression and improvement. He stated:
“I’m a certified pro now. So with that being said, that’s just the next step. And then the next step after this is the big leagues. So just how I went pro in track and field, how I hit the highest levels of wrestling, there’s no difference.”
“The work ethic stays the same. I still have a good 10 years of me to make my stamp in the MMA world, make my stamp in the martial arts world, which I’ve already been doing.”
“Now we’re taking it to new heights, taking it as far as I can go. And this next door I’m about to cross through is going to be the limit of what you can do in the sport. ”
“So, I definitely see a long career out of this. Me, personally, just being a wrestler, I turned 26 this year. I started when I was six, so that’s been in there a long time, and I see a long career out of this, too.”
Along with his accomplishments in wrestling and mixed martial arts, Clark also holds three Guinness World Records. This includes the fastest 20-meter walking on hands, the highest box jump with hands, and the most diamond pushups completed in three minutes.
Clark’s condition presents a specific challenge for athletes in MMA. Due to lack of lower limbs, Clark counts as a grounded opponent – so it’s not allowed to kick him under MMA rules.
Kicks and knees to the head of a grounded opponent are a foul that requires DQing the man who threw the kicks.
Conor McGregor pointed out some of Clark’s adaptations and challenges in his praise of the wrestler:
McGregor tweeted: “Absolutely fascinating to hear about this man’s debut and now see it. Lighting entry on the low single. Wow!”
“You should not connect to him in any shape or form. Frames only. Frame to strike. Fascinating! Congrats and so much respect to that man Zion Clark! MMA is the best sport!”
Even while attempting to suggest a strategy to take on Clark, the former UFC double champion insisted that “very few on the earth” would be capable of doing it.
He said: “Can’t kick as he is grounded opponent. The only way to stop him is to develop KO-ending shots mid-transitions in grappling. Very few on the planet possess this skill.”
“And to 3/4 way downward punch a jab there is just no power. Look at opponent’s attempt before the shot. Wild!”
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