July 6, 1964 |
Chicago Heights, Illinois, United States
|Other names||The Big Cat|
|Height||1.93 m (6 ft 4 in)|
|Weight||127.1 kg (280 lb; 20.01 st)|
|Wrestling||NCAA Division I Wrestler|
|Mixed martial arts record|
Oklahoma State University–Stillwater
|Notable students||Jon Fitch
Tom Erikson (born July 6, 1964) is an American former amateur wrestler and mixed martial artist who competed in the super heavyweight division. Weighing between 127.1 kg (280 lb; 20.01 st) and 139.8 kg (308 lb; 22.01 st) throughout his career, "The Big Cat" began wrestling at an early age and was a two-time NJCAA Junior Collegiate Champion at Triton College before going on to achieve NCAA Division I honours twice at Oklahoma State University–Stillwater. He embarked on his career in MMA in 1996 and went on to fight in the Pride Fighting Championships.
Erikson is an assistant wrestling coach at Purdue University, where he has been coaching since 1997.
Wrestling for Triton College, Erikson was a two-time NJCAA Collegiate Champion in 1984 and 1985. He was also a two-time NCAA Division I Collegiate wrestling All-American, in 1986 and 1987, while competing for Oklahoma State University.
Erikson made the switch to the emerging sport of mixed martial arts almost ten years later and debuted on November 22, 1996 at the Martial Arts Reality Superfighting eight-man openweight tournament in Birmingham, Alabama. He defeated Aleksander Khramstovskly via technical knockout in the quarter-finals and submitted Willie Peeters with a neck crank just thirty-one seconds into the semis before meeting Murilo Bustamante in the final. Erikson outweighed the Brazilian jiu-jitsu stylist by around 45 kg/100 lb and got the takedown immediately after the bout started. Not much happened afterwards, however, as Erikson was unable to pass Bustamate's guard and the men returned to their feet eighteen minutes later. The remainder of the bout saw some meaningless striking exchanges and Bustamante attempting to pull guard. An extra ten minutes overtime was added onto the match after the regulation thirty minutes finished without a winner but still neither man was able to capitalize and the bout ended in a draw.
In his second outing, Erikson TKO'd Davin Wright in under a minute at the World Fighting Federation in Birmingham, Alabama on February 24, 1997. Following this, he won the Brazil Open '97 heavyweight tournament on June 15, 1997 by knocking out fellow American wrestler Kevin Randleman in the final. Randleman attempted to push Erikson into the fence but was caught with some big shots and knocked unconscious. He made his return to wrestling to compete at the 1997 World Wrestling Championships in Krasnoyarsk, Russia in August 1997, finishing in fourth place in the 130 kg/286 lb freestyle division. He also beat Tsuyoshi Kohsaka in a submission grappling match on October 11, 1997 before another quick TKO of Ed de Kruijf at Vale Tudo Japan 1997 in Chiba, Japan on November 29, 1997 in what would be his last MMA fight for almost two years.
In his Pride Fighting Championships debut, he beat Gary Goodridge by unanimous decision at Pride 8 in Tokyo, Japan on November 21, 1999. At Pride 11 in Osaka, Japan on October 31, 2000, Erikson faced Heath Herring and got the takedown early as usual. The referee eventually stood the fighters back up for inactivity and Herring rocked Erikson with punches as he tried to grapple again, knocking him to the ground before finishing him with a rear naked choke at 6:17 of round one.
Erikson submitted Matt Skelton, a kickboxer making his first MMA appearance, at Pride 17 in Tokyo on November 3, 2001. After the event Pride FC amended their rules so that the type of choke he used, which involved grabbing Skelton's throat with his hand in what was termed a "front strangle choke", would no longer be allowed. In his last bout before departing the promotion, Erikson secured a first round rear naked choke submission of Tim Catalfo at Pride 19 in Saitama, Japan on February 24, 2002.
Despite having no kickboxing background to speak of and only showing rudimental striking ability in his MMA bouts, Erikson was recruited by premier kickboxing organization K-1 later that year. Matched with Mike Bernardo at the K-1 Andy Spirits Japan GP 2002 Final on September 22, 2002, Erikson suffered a first round knockout defeat. He was able to survive into the fourth round with Hiromi Amada at K-1 Beast 2003 on April 6, 2003 but again lost by KO in a slug-fest.
He faced off with boxing champion Shannon Briggs at the K-1 World Grand Prix 2004 in Saitama on March 27, 2004 and, as one might suspect, the wrestler stood no chance and was KO'd little over a minute into the fight. Erikson recorded his first and only win as a professional kickboxer against Jan Nortje at the K-1 World Grand Prix 2004 in Nagoya on June 6, 2004, flooring Nortje three times in fifty-five seconds to win by TKO.
Tom Erikson made his return to MMA and Pride on February 20, 2005 at Pride 29 in Saitama, submitting to a Fabricio Werdum rear naked choke in round one. This would ultimately be his last fight in Pride and he next fought for Hero's at Hero's 5 in Tokyo on May 3, 2006 where he was TKO'd with ground-and-pound from Antonio Silva in the first round.
Erikson was knocked out during the first round of his match with Alexandru Lungu at Strike FC 2 in Mamaia, Romania on August 1, 2008. In his last fight before retirement, he rematched Jan Nortje in a kickboxing match at Deep: Glaiator in Okayama, Japan two weeks later and looked to repeat his performance in the first match as he dropped the South African giant early. After Nortje beat the referee's count, Erikson moved in to finish him only to be knocked down by a left hook from Nortje. Erikson in turn beat the count only to be sent to the canvas again soon after, forcing the referee to stop the fight and sending him into retirement on the back of four straight stoppage losses.
Championships and awards
- National Collegiate Athletic Association
- National Junior College Athletic Association
Mixed martial arts
- Brazil Open
- Brazil Open '97 Heavyweight Tournament Championship
- Martial Arts Reality Superfighting
- MARS Tournament Runner-up
1 win (1 KO), 4 losses, 0 draws
Legend: Win Loss Draw/No contest Notes
Mixed martial arts record
|Professional record breakdown|
|14 matches||9 wins||4 losses|
|Loss||9-4-1||Alexandru Lungu||KO (punches)||Strike FC 2||August 1, 2008||1||1:21||Mamaia, Romania|
|Loss||9-3-1||Antonio Silva||TKO (punches)||Hero's 5||May 3, 2006||1||2:49||Tokyo, Japan|
|Loss||9-2-1||Fabricio Werdum||Submission (rear naked choke)||Pride 29||February 20, 2005||1||5:11||Saitama, Japan|
|Win||9-1-1||Tim Catalfo||Submission (rear naked choke)||Pride 19||February 24, 2002||1||2:35||Saitama, Japan|
|Win||8-1-1||Matt Skelton||Submission (front strangle choke)||Pride 17||November 3, 2001||1||1:51||Tokyo, Japan|
|Loss||7-1-1||Heath Herring||Submission (rear naked choke)||Pride 11||October 31, 2000||1||6:17||Osaka, Japan|
|Win||7-0-1||Gary Goodridge||Decision (unanimous)||Pride 8||November 21, 1999||2||10:00||Tokyo, Japan|
|Win||6-0-1||Ed de Kruijf||TKO (punches)||Vale Tudo Japan 1997||November 29, 1997||1||0:37||Chiba, Japan|
|Win||5-0-1||Kevin Randleman||KO (punch)||Brazil Open '97||June 15, 1997||1||1:11||Brazil||Brazil Open '97 heavyweight tournament final.|
|Win||4-0-1||Pantera Negra||TKO (punches)||Brazil Open '97||June 15, 1997||1||2:21||Brazil||Brazil Open '97 heavyweight tournament semi-final.|
|Win||3-0-1||Davin Wright||TKO (corner stoppage)||World Fighting Federation||February 24, 1997||1||0:42||Birmingham, Alabama, United States|
|Draw||2-0-1||Murilo Bustamante||Draw||Martial Arts Reality Superfighting||November 22, 1996||1||40:00||Birmingham, Alabama, United States||MARS tournament final.|
|Win||2-0||Willie Peeters||Submission (neck crank)||Martial Arts Reality Superfighting||November 22, 1996||1||0:31||Birmingham, Alabama, United States||MARS tournament semi-final.|
|Win||1-0||Aleksander Khramstovskly||TKO (punches)||Martial Arts Reality Superfighting||November 22, 1996||1||8:55||Birmingham, Alabama, United States||MARS tournament quarter-final.|
- National Wrestling Hall of Fame profile
- Official K-1 profile
- K-1Sport profile
- Professional MMA record for Tom Erikson from Sherdog