Wednesday roundup: International trip for Army wrestlers, Stann part of bad UFC trend, Big East playoff update

Justin Lester

Greco-Roman wrestler Spc. Justin Lester poses during a Team USA photo session May 15 in Dallas. On June 15, he'll be on the mat in Serbia. (US Presswire photo by Kevin Jairaj)

Three quick hits for a Wednesday morning, from Belgrade to Brian Stann to Big East football:

1. Pre-Olympic trip. Three Olympics-bound soldiers are among the seven elite U.S. Greco-Roman wrestlers headed to Europe later this week for the Gedza International tournament in Belgrade, Serbia, according to Sgt. 1st Class Dremiel Byers (120 kilograms), Sgt. Spenser Mango (55 kg) and Spc. Justin Lester (66 kg), all members of the Army’s World Class Athlete Program, will make the trip; Mango and Lester will wrestle Friday, with Byers hitting the mat Saturday.

At stake: A chance to fine-tune their mat game as London approaches, with Greco-Roman Olympic medals being awarded Aug. 5-7. Also at stake is some serious prize money, according to official tournament documents — the winner in each weight class pockets a cool 20,000 Serbian dinar. Or, after a visit to the currency-exchange counter, about $214.

2. UFC president: “Tone it down.” Former Marine Brian Stann isn’t the only UFC fighter that’s been sidelined by injury in recent weeks — Jose Aldo, Vitor Belfort and Michael “The Count” Bisping have all been ruled out of upcoming fights, forcing UFC president Dana White into a few creative matchmaking decisions. MMA Weekly lays out the situation here (note the fighter they mention first), with White’s theory on the rash of wounded combatants — elite training camps with multiple top-level fighters are becoming too competitive, resulting in bruised bodies.

Clearly, precautions must be taken. In Stann’s case, that would include a lifeguard.

3. Big East and BCS 2.0. Service-academy fans don’t need to worry about big-time college football conference shenanigans, right? Well, not exactly — Navy’s joining the Big East in 2015 (and the Big East-Air Force rumor mill kicks in every few months), so if you follow the Mids, you should keep up with how the conference will fit into the latest “plus one”/bowl/playoff/tournament/coin flip system.

ESPN Big East blogger Andrea Adelson has a good recap of the conference’s involvement in the Bowl Championship Series debate here. Short version: The Big East wants a playoff that selects from a pool of conference champions. Otherwise, the conference’s winner risks being skipped over for a runner-up from one of the stronger leagues. Regardless, the winner of the Big East could have trouble cracking a four-team playoff field; Adelson points out that it likely would require an undefeated season. Navy’s last one of those was 1926 (9-0-1, tying Army at the official dedication of Chicago’s Soldier Field).


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