Cody Law didn’t know exactly how he’d end up making his professional fighting debut but he probably couldn’t have scripted a better journey.
The 25-year-old prospect was once a top-ranked high school wrestler, who ended up joining the coveted Penn State wrestling program under Olympic gold medalist Cael Sanderson. While he picked up several big wins as a freshman, Law eventually transferred to the University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown, where he kicked off his career as a junior.
After taking All-American honors that year, Law finally achieved his ultimate goal in wrestling, which was becoming a National Champion as he claimed the Division II title at 157 pounds. While many wrestlers look to build on that kind of success by making a run at the U.S. Olympic team, Law already knew that his career on the mats was over.
“Every wrestler who competes at a high level thinks ‘I’ll go to the Olympics one day’ but as I got older, I wanted to fight,” Law explained when speaking to MMA Fighting. “When I was maybe 12 or 13, somewhere in middle school, I used to watch fights at my uncle Eric and aunt Betsy’s garage. Like they’d have a little garage and we’d set up a table with lawn chairs and a TV and we’d watch fights.
“I remember watching Georges St-Pierre fight, I think it was when Georges fought Jake Shields. It was just a moment where it was like I want to fight someday. Ever since, it’s been my plan to fight. So as soon as I finished my senior season, I knew I was going to fight right away. That’s kind of how it played out.”
At the time, Law was still making a two-hour commute into Pittsburgh for his training session ,but rather than rush into a pro career, his coaches advised to start out as an amateur instead.
While there’s no right or wrong way to go about a mixed martial arts career, Law admits it was probably the best decision to test himself as an amateur because for all the ways he loved fighting, he had never actually done it before.
“My coaches told me I should fight amateur and at the time, I didn’t know what the route was,” Law said. “After the fact, I started noticing guys were fighting pro right away and I was like why do I need to fight amateur? But my coaches kept me doing amateur fights to get me that experience.
“I had never been in a fight before so it’s probably not the best idea for the first fight of your entire life to be a professional fight where it counts.”
He ended up amassing a perfect 5-0 record as an amateur but he was still figuring out his future in fighting when he got connected with a prominent MMA manager through one of his coaches.
“Malki [Kawa] gave me a call and of course when a guy calls me and says he manages Jon Jones and Jorge Masvidal, Demetrious Johnson, all these guys I’m like absolutely [I want to work with you],” Law said.
While that got his management team solidified, Law was still spending almost as much time traveling to his training sessions as he was putting in work with teammates and coaches. That’s when he noticed two former Penn State wrestlers — Bo Nickal and Anthony Cassar — were touting the training they were both doing at the American Top Team academy in Florida.
At the time both were working with Jorge Masvidal as he was initially preparing for an eventual showdown with UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman, who also claimed a Division II wrestling title when he was in college.
Law called his manager and inquired about potentially traveling to Florida to work with the same team but he never quite expected the response he received.
“Malki said ‘you want to come down to help Jorge get ready?’ I was like of course!” Law said with a laugh. “I thought maybe he was messing with me and then next message he sent me was ‘I got you a ticket, you’re flying out tomorrow.’ I was like all right, let’s go. I’ve been down here ever since.
“I was helping Jorge get ready during wrestling sessions but slowly I started developing relationships with the other guys. Now I’m just full American Top Team.”
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After traveling to Florida to help Masvidal during his camp, Law moved into the American Top Team dormitory, which houses fighters in a college-type setting attached to the actual gym itself in Coconut Creek.
Law started working with trainers like fellow wrestling champion Steve Mocco as well as former WEC champion Mike Brown, who serves as the head coach to notable UFC athletes such as Masvidal, Dustin Poirier and Joanna Jedrzejcyzk.
Considering the kind of experience he has working with numerous champions over the years, Brown raved about Law’s work ethic and discipline in the gym.
“Cody Law has all the ingredients of a potential high level MMA champion,” Brown told MMA Fighting. “He started wrestling young, he has the genetic physical capabilities, he is extremely mentally tough and most importantly he has the drive.
“He has all that in, laser beam focus, where all of his mental energy is focused on becoming the best fighter he can be.”
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As proof of his potential, Bellator MMA signed Law to a deal before he had a single professional fight on his resume and he inked a contract for more than the average developmental athlete.
“It’s not [a regular developmental deal]. I don’t know what to say. I’m very happy with it,” Law revealed. “I’m very excited about. I guess surprised but I also visualized and imagined this was going to happen for me before it happened. I always envisioned me getting the most money, getting the wins, doing things right, so when it happened I was like let’s keep it rolling from here on out. I’m going to be worth everything that I get.
“Cause I’m not going to just be a wrestler. A lot of wrestlers go into MMA and they stay wrestlers. I’m going to be a full mixed martial artist that can do everything. That’s going to be worth all the money.”
He makes his pro debut on Thursday at Bellator 250 and Law promises he’s ready to deliver on day one.
“I think that I’m learning to integrate all the skills in MMA really, really well,” Law said. “I think that’s one of the most important things coming into MMA. I think my first pro fight is going to be awesome for me.”