Skip to main content
Penn State Wrestling Alumnus Turned 2024 FIGHT PASS Fighter To Watch Geno Morelli Reflects On His College Career And The Penn State Talent.
UFC Fight Pass

Penn State Alumni Geno Morelli Talks College Career | UFC FIGHT PASS

Penn State Wrestling Alumnus Turned 2024 FIGHT PASS Fighter To Watch Geno Morelli Reflects On His College Career And The Penn State Talent

Not a lot of college athletic programs can say they have dominated their sport throughout the last decade. Penn State Wrestling has exceeded the term “dominating,” blowing through the Big Ten with almost no issues since 2014.

Since then, Penn State has only lost a total of seven duals and has produced legendary names in both wrestling and MMA. This list of alumni is headlined by Bo Nickal, 3-time NCAA Champion and current middleweight contender in the UFC, gold medalist David Taylor, current pound for pound #1 ranked Carter Starocci and many more.

MMA rising star Geno Morelli is a recent Penn State product making waves in combat sports, making the 2024 UFC FIGHT PASS Fighters to Watch list and boasting a 2-0 record that includes a recent dominant victory over Slate Passmore at Fury Challenger Series 6.

Morelli’s time at Penn State included rosters full of All-American level talent, and his college experience was nothing if not competitive from start to finish.

“The middleweights at Penn State, while I was there, it was crazy the lineup that we had. My senior year, we had Zain Retherford at 149, he was the multiple time National champ, Jason Nolf at 157, multiple time National champ, Vincenzo Joseph same thing at 165, and then we had Bo Nickal at 184,” Morelli explained. “Shakur Rasheed, who ended up All-American the next year, Garrett Hammond who ended up transferring out.”

Morelli’s weight class included Shakur Rasheed and Mark Hall. Hall, a true freshman during Morelli’s senior season, beat Morelli to get the nod for Nationals and went on to win the National Tournament. Morelli finished his senior season 10-1, concluding his college career.

Morelli would continue his graduate education at Penn State, pursuing his MBA ,and would often visit the younger wrestlers, providing support and training on occasion.

“Towards the end of my MBA, I decided to go back into the room one time, and I was wrestling with some of the guys and just felt really good,” Morelli said. “And the US Open was less than two weeks after that practice, and so I had talked to our coaching staff, and I was like ‘do you guys mind if I just came and competed for fun.’ They were cool with it. On less than two weeks’ notice, I ended up making it to the semifinals of the US Open.”

Morelli’s last-minute step-in at the US Open earned him All-American status in 2019.

“That was really my biggest accomplishment just getting that All-American status, making it to the semifinals of a really tough tournament on less than two weeks of training,” Morelli explained.

With his wrestling career now completely behind him, Morelli is eyeing bigger accomplishments with an MMA career. A move to South Carolina has lined him up with former UFC welterweight title challenger Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson, who has provided Morelli with a skillset to compliment his wrestling background.

“I noticed that I really needed to develop my striking skillset and so I think moving up here is going to lead to a really exciting style that the fans are going to love,” Morelli explained. “But I was able to make up for a lot of that missed time just from being a natural athlete and picking up on everything really quickly. So I think people see my potential from a natural athletic standpoint.”

Morelli’s time at Penn State has given him exposure to the spotlight and he is eager to see more wrestlers step into MMA post-graduation.

Penn State Wrestling Alumnus Turned 2024 FIGHT PASS Fighter To Watch Geno Morelli Reflects On His College Career And The Penn State Talent.

“You see Bo [Nickal] coming in and starting to smoke people, and I think you’re going to continue to see that with most of these D-1 wrestlers coming into the sport,” Morelli said. “We’re sort of used to competing in these environments where there’s a lot of eyes on us. I think that gives me a huge advantage coming into the fight game.”

Under the guidance of “Wonderboy” Thompson, Morelli hopes to be the next star to follow the wrestling to MMA pipeline. The Penn State graduate is not new to competition or the attention that comes with it and he will continue to keep the UFC in his sights.

UFC FIGHT PASS Fighter to Watch Morelli is looking to keep momentum going. With Stephen Thompson in his corner, will we see another Penn State wrestler step into the UFC spotlight?


For the greatest action across the world of combat sports, sign up TODAY for UFC FIGHT PASS!