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Yonger Bastida’s New Home, Ames, Iowa | UFC Fight Pass

From 77 And Sunny To Humid Or Frozen Solid, Yonger Bastida Couldn’t Be Happier With His Decision To Leave Cuba For The Heart Of The Heartland.

From Cuba’s average year-round temperature of 77 degrees to the Midwestern plains, Iowa State’s Yonger Bastida is proud to call Ames, Iowa home.

Bastida grew up like any other child, with family throwing a baseball around at all times of the day, chess, wrestling and everything that comes with it. After diverting from the family’s first love of baseball, wrestling brought Yonger Bastida to the United States. Not the United States most Cubans may fantasize about of Miami, San Diego or Los Angeles, Bastida found himself smack dab in the middle of Iowa.

“At first, when I got here ,it was really cold and I was like, man, I don’t know,” Bastida laughed.

Since coming to Iowa in November of 2020, Bastida has done almost nothing outside of wrestle, go to class and continue improving his English. Summer breaks are spent in Ames, and traveling is strictly wrestling-based.

It may not be as lavish a life as it will be one day, but Bastida didn’t come to Iowa State for the scenery; he came to win.


“I’ll go to camps, but not to vacation,” Bastida said. “I haven’t gone to vacation yet. I’m planning after the Nationals this year; I am going back home. That’ll be my vacation. After that, we’ll try and go to another place in the United States for a vacation.”

Bastida came to the United States with nothing but wrestling to drive him. No family, no friends, not even a word of English.

Yet his wrestling prowess motivated him to become a student of, not only Iowa State University, but the American culture.

There’s always a reason not to do things. It would’ve been much easier for Bastida to stay in Cuba and tell his peers about how good he could have been had he known English and gone to America, but that’s not his style. Bastida bet on himself, went to Iowa State and got to work.


In order to stay on the wrestling team, Bastida would need to keep his grades up. In order to keep his grades up he would need to learn English. It wasn’t going to be easy, but a wrestler doesn’t usually seek out the easy path.

“I had zero English,” Bastida said. “I didn’t know any English, but I learned it here, from the school, my teammates, my coaches, and then at the school with the teachers and stuff. They helped me out a lot.”

Through the entire three-year (and counting) journey, Bastida has grown so fond of the culture in the United States that he’s even begun to love the Iowa winters he dove straight into a few years ago.

“This is different, but now I love it,” Bastida laughed. “You get the winter, you get the spring, you get the fall, and back home we don’t have the snow. I’m seeing the snow and the whole year-round seasons.”

Now in his senior season, Bastida still has a lot of wrestling left in him before ideally transitioning to MMA. The All-American has his immediate sights set on a National Championship, but off in the distance is an Olympic run. There’s a handful of years between now and then, but Bastida already has his mind made up about one thing. He’ll be proudly donning the American singlet.

“Well, I’m trying to get my citizenship here because I want to wrestle for USA,” Bastida said. “I have to do the trials and the USA Open. That’s what I got on my mind right now. That’s the plan. This is my second home, Iowa.”

Following an Olympic run , Bastida sees himself dipping his toes in the MMA world, and Cyclone Nation has to admit that it’d be pretty sweet to hear Bruce Buffer say the words, “Fighting out of Ames, Iowa.”

From what we’ve heard so far, that’s exactly what Bastida has in mind.

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