Former NCAA Division I All-American Pat Downey has long hinted at a move to mixed martial arts. Now, he finally has a debut opponent, date, and event locked in.

Downey (0-0 MMA, 0-0 BMMA) will make his promotional debut April 15 at Bellator 277 in San Jose, Calif. in a middleweight bout against Daniel Compton (4-3 MMA, 0-1 BMMA), a promotion official Tuesday confirmed to MMA Junkie after an initial report by Ariel Helwani. The event takes place at SAP Center. The main card airs on Showtime after prelims on MMA Junkie.

Downey, 29, was a USA Wrestling world team member, ranked No. 10 in the world, an undefeated 2019 senior-level circuit, a Dave Schultz Memorial International champion, a competitor in the U.S. Open and World Team Trials, and NCAA All-American.

Bellator signs Pat Downey, former NCAA Division I All-American wrestler

USA Wrestling national champ Pat Downey to pursue MMA after potential stint in Olympic games

It’s always been one of Downey’s goals to compete in MMA. It’s just been a matter of when. In 2020, Downey told MMA Junkie his MMA career would follow the delayed Olympic trials. In April 2021, Downey came up short when he placed fourth in the trials. In early 2021, Downey announced his retirement from wrestling and pivot to MMA before he signed with Bellator.

A controversial figure in the eyes of many in the amateur wrestling community, Downey described his incompatible relationship with the wrestling community when he spoke to MMA Junkie in January.

“Even when I did everything I set out to do in the sport, they still didn’t want me being their representative,” Downey said. “I just feel like I wasn’t the wrestling poster boy they wanted representing Team USA. When I say ‘they,’ I mean team USA Wrestling, the governing body. I was always getting reprimanded for sh*t I was saying or what I was doing or how I was behaving, just because I didn’t go to church on Sunday and then go secretly closet-sin on Monday, like all them fake motherf*ckers are doing. I was a little bit more open about my lifestyle and how I live and what I do.”

With the addition, the Bellator 277 lineup includes:

Champion A.J. McKee vs. Patricio Freire – for featherweight title
Champion Vadim Nemkov vs. Corey Anderson – for light heavyweight title, grand prix final
Jeremy Kennedy vs. Aaron Pico
Tyrell Fortune vs. Steve Mowry
Tim Johnson vs. Linton Vassell
Kyle Crutchmer vs. Michael Lombardo
Shane Keefe vs. Tyson Miller
Gaston Bolanos vs. Cass Bell
Alan Benson vs. Theo Haig
Edwin De Los Santos vs. Alberto Mendez
Calob Ramirez vs. Bobby Seronio III

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