June 13, 2021

The Wrestling Rivalry Between Bubba Jenkins and Lance Palmer

Bubba Jenkins (left) and Lance Palmer (right) (Photos; Tony Rotundo; WrestlersAreWarriors.com)

On Friday, the Professional Fighters League will launch their 2021 season on ESPN2. One of the marquee fights will feature former Penn State and Arizona State wrestler Bubba Jenkins taking on former Ohio State wrestler Lance Palmer. While this will be their first fight, the then Big Ten rivals had a rather extensive four-match series during the 2007-2008 season. The following looks back at how those matches were covered by Penn State’s sports information department.

Jenkins and Palmer first faced off in a dual match during the 2008 National Duals event on Jan. 13, 2008.

“In another highly anticipated bout, No. 4 Bubba Jenkins (Virginia Beach, Va.) took on No. 10 Lance Palmer of Ohio State at 149. After a short break due to a false fire alarm in the UNI-Dome, Jenkins seemed energized and began to force the tempo. With Palmer on defense, the Nittany Lion sophomore was able to pick his spots, getting in on two consecutive high single legs and finishing off the second attempt for a 2-1 lead with :30 left in the period (after the Palmer escape). Down by one, Palmer chose down to start the second period and quickly escaped to a 2-2 tie. Jenkins continued to set the tempo, forcing Palmer back towards the edge of the mat. The Buckeye caught Jenkins by the shoulders, however, and took him down for two points and two back points. But Jenkins immediately reversed him and after a furious :30 of wrestling, Palmer held a 7-4 lead. Down by three heading into the final period, Jenkins chose down to start the third. Jenkins escaped to a 7-5 deficit with 1:20 left to wrestle and immediately tied the bout at 7-7 with a quick double ankle pick. Palmer escaped to an 8-7 lead with :52 left. With :10 left, Palmer countered a late Jenkins shot and got a clinching takedown to post a stunning 10-7 upset win and push OSU out to a 12-0 lead.”

The rematch came less than two weeks later as Penn State traveled to Columbus for the regularly scheduled Big Ten match.

“The bout began at 149, where Penn State’s Bubba Jenkins (Virginia Beach, Va.), ranked No. 6, took on No. 5 Lance Palmer in one of the dual’s marquee match-ups. The duo spent the first part of the bout working for an opening, focusing on the upper body. Jenkins took a quick shot with 1:00 left but was countered by Palmer, who gained control of Jenkins’ leg, but the Lion sophomore fought out of the situation to keep the bout scoreless. Jenkins was called for a first stall warning as the first period ended in a scoreless tie. Jenkins chose down to start the middle stanza and, after three resets (and a first Palmer stall warning), escaped to a 1-0 lead at the 1:15 mark. Jenkins shot low on Palmer and gained control of Palmer’s shoulders, nearly getting a takedown. After a short scramble, Jenkins completed the takedown to up his lead to 3-0 with :20 left. Palmer worked feverishly for a reversal, but Jenkins maintained control to keep his 3-0 lead after two periods. Palmer chose down to start the final period and escaped to a 3-1 deficit. Jenkins completed another single-leg, gaining control of Palmer’s left leg. Working steadily for a second takedown, Jenkins grabbed onto Palmer’s left ankle and got the points to lead 5-2 (after a Palmer escape) with :36 left in the bout. Jenkins was able to fight off Palmer’s last-second attempts at a takedown and walked off with an impressive 5-2 decision. The victory, which avenged a loss to Palmer at the National Duals, put the Nittany Lions up 3-0 early.”

Jenkins moved ahead in the series with a 6-5 decision victory over Palmer in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten tournament. After advancing, Jenkins ran into Brent Metcalf in the next round and dropped into the consolation bracket via a 15-3 major decision. Palmer and Jenkins would meet once again in the fifth-place match.

“In the fifth-place bout against Palmer, Palmer came out early and pressured Jenkins, forcing the Nittany Lion to the outside circle. But after a reset with 2:00, Jenkins got in deep on Palmer’s left ankle and began working for a go-ahead takedown. After a brief scramble, Jenkins got the two points with 1:30 left, but gave up a point for locking his hands. Palmer then escaped to knot the score at 2-2 with just over a minute left in the period. That score held for the final minute of the opening period. Tied 2-2 after one period, Jenkins chose down to start the second stanza. Jenkins scrambled around underneath Palmer and, after a protracted struggle, gained control of the Buckeye’s ankle, pulled him back onto the mat and got a reversal to take a 4-2 lead with a minute left. Palmer re-aggravated an injury during the scramble and, with Nationals just two weeks away, opted to take an injury default. The win gave Jenkins a fifth-place finish and ends his tournament run 2-2. He heads to the NCAA Tournament with a 22-5 record.”

Despite the fifth-place finish at the Big Ten tournament, Jenkins would rebound in a big way at the NCAA tournament. He made the finals before falling once again to Brent Metcalf. After transferring to Arizona State in 2011, Jenkins would return to the finals and famously score a fall over David Taylor to become an NCAA champion. He made his MMA debut about nine months later.

Palmer would finish the season with an eighth-place finish at the NCAA tournament to become an All-American for the second time. He would exhaust his eligibility during the 2010 season with a runner-up performance against Metcalf. The four-time All-American eventually made the switch to MMA the following year.