Former NCAA champs Ben Askren, Stephen Abas, Jay Borschel, and Jordan Oliver all came out winners at the first Agon Wrestling I: The Revolution wrestling event at the Rio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas Sunday night.
In the main event that closed out the evening, Askren, a two-time NCAA champ for the University of Missouri (2006, 2007), scored a decisive 22-8 victory over former Penn State mat champ Quentin Wright, also a two-time NCAA titlewinner (2012, 2013).
Wright scored first, but the former Mizzou Tiger now mixed martial arts champ for Bellator Fighting Championships more than answered the former Nittany Lion big man, racking up a takedown and two back exposures to make the score 13-4 at the end of the first period. In the second, Wright got another takedown, but again Askren seemingly scored at will, getting yet another takedown and another back exposure to make the score 17-8. The current Bellator welterweight champ added another five points to the board to make the final score 22-8.
After the match, Askren demanded a match with Kyle Dake, four-time NCAA champ from Cornell University, in Ithaca, N.Y., saying it would be a battle of past Hodge Award winners. (The Hodge Trophy is presented each year to the best college wrestler in the nation.) On Twitter, @BenAskren wrote: "@kyledake444 I'm coming to Ithaca in January for @AgonWC 3. I may have to beat up some other shmuck, but I hope it is you. @flowrestling."
The evening opened with Borschel, 174-pound champ for the University of Iowa at the 2010 NCAAs, defeating a 40-year-old Aaron Simpson, former All-American for Arizona State who now competes in MMA, 11-3.
In the second match, Oliver, a two-time NCAA champ from Oklahoma State (2011, 2013), shut out former Ohio State All-American – now MMA featherweight champ in the Resurrection Fighting Alliance – Lance Palmer, 8-0. After the match, the former Cowboy Tweeted: “Great scrapping it out with my boy @LancePalmer! Nothing but respect to him for taking this match haven't competed in 3yrs, still the man!”
In the last match before the Askren-Wright main event, Stephen Abas, a three-time NCAA champ for Fresno State a decade ago, edged four-time Michigan State All-American Nick Simmons, 2-1.
Each of the four matches featured an MMA competitor, with two fighters -- Askren and Abas – earning victories.
Matches were wrestled following unique rules that drew heavily from collegiate folkstyle. One significant difference: the Agon bouts were nine minutes (three equal three-minute periods) instead of seven minutes in college.
That said, the Agon event had the look of a big-time MMA event, from the promotional posters to the weigh-in ceremonies, pre-event video interviews (some that had the trash-talk elements of MMA pre-match interviews), and, yes, ring girls.
The Oct. 27 inaugural Agon Wrestling Championships event in Las Vegas is expected to be the first of seven similar events that will be around the country. The next Agon event will be held in Flint, Mich., on Dec. 22. In 2014, there are more events planned for Ithaca, N.Y. (in January), Columbus, Ohio (February), Clovis, Calif. (March), Indiana, Pa. (April), and again in Las Vegas next July.
“Agon” comes from Greek word describing a one-on-one, no-holds-barred contest where human nature was tested to the limits. “Agon” is the root of English words “antagonist” and “agony.”
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