Chris Wade is fifth New York state wrestling champion to fight in UFC

Islip's Chris Wade grapples with North Babylon's George

Islip's Chris Wade grapples with North Babylon's George Estevez in their 140-pound quarterfinal match at the Suffolk County championships on Feb. 20, 2005. Wade won by decision, 3-0. Photo Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

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Wrestling, for Chris Wade, serves as the base model for all he does in mixed martial arts.

Training, cutting weight, grinding, performing in front of a large audience. It all stems from Wade's time wrestling for Islip High School and Nassau CC.

And when Wade enters the octagon inside Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento, California, to fight Cain Carrizosa at UFC 177 on Saturday, he will become the fourth active UFC fighter to have won a New York State wrestling title.

The list includes middleweight champion Chris Weidman (Baldwin), light heavyweight champion Jon Jones (Union-Endicott) and light heavyweight contender Gian Villante (MacArthur).

A fifth former state champion, Matthew Riddle of Saratoga Springs High School, also competed in the UFC from 2008-13, going 7-3 with two no contests.

Here's a look at how those five fighters won their state titles.

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2002: Chris Weidman, Baldwin High School

Weidman, a senior, won the 189-pound state title over North Babylon's Chris Parris, 2-1 on criteria in overtime. In the semifinals, Weidman defeated Wayne Foster (Carthage), 12-4.

2003: Gian Villante, MacArthur High School

A year after losing in the state semifinals, Villante won the state title at 215 pounds. He decision end Zack Zerniak (Franklin Academy), 18-9, in the semifinals, then won a 7-5 decision over Mike Patterson (Wayne).

2004: Matthew Riddle, Saratoga Springs High School


Riddle pinned Huntington junior Jack Sullivan at 6:49 in overtime to win the 189-pound state title.

2005: Chris Wade, Islip High School

Wade won the 140-pound state title with an 8-4 decision over Fox Lane's Mike Cucolo. Wade decisioned Albert Gianforti (Canandaigua), 5-0, in the semifinals.

2005: Jon Jones, Union-Endicott High School

Jones lost to Jack Sullivan of Huntington in the 2004 semifinals at 189 pounds. The following year, the two met in the state final at 189 with Jones winning by decision, 2-1.

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Note: Former UFC light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans (Niagara) placed fourth in both the 1997 and 1998 state tournaments.

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