Iowa State mat greats Travis and Trent Paulson, 2010 NCAA champ Max Askren, and four-time NCAA Division II heavyweight champ Les Sigman, are among the wrestlers competing in the first-ever Victory Wrestling Challenge in Omaha next month, event sponsors announced Tuesday.
The 12-bout event will showcase former collegians as well as past World and Olympic wrestlers in freestyle and Greco-Roman competition at Ralston Arena in suburban Omaha on Friday, Nov. 22.
A number of match-ups have already been set. Sigman, who won his four titles at the now-defunct wrestling program at the University of Nebraska-Omaha, is set to face Jarod Trice, a recent grad from Central Michigan University who was a three-time Division I All-American at heavyweight. Travis Paulson, a three-time NCAA All-American for the Cyclones, will take on Max Askren, a three-time NCAA All-American, 2010 NCAA Div. I champ for the University of Missouri, and younger brother of Bellator welterweight champ Ben Askren. Trent Paulson’s opponent has yet to be announced.
In addition to freestyle matches, the event will also showcase Greco-Roman wrestling. One announced match features UNO alum Esai Dominguez, a three-time NCAA Div. II All-American, set to compete against 2012 Olympian and two-time World bronze medalist Justin “Harry” Lester of the U.S. Army’s World Class Athlete Program.
Also expected to compete in the inaugural Victory Wrestling Challenge is MMA veteran Joe Ellenberger, a two-time Division II All-American at University of Nebraska-Kearney, who is a familiar face at Victory Fighting Championship events. Ellenberger is a two-time Division II All-American at Nebraska-Kearney. Other MMA fighters with wrestling backgrounds are also expected to compete.
This is the first wrestling event for Victory Fighting Championship, a developer of mixed martial arts competitors and promoter of MMA events. The organization has pledged to give a portion of each ticket sold to USA Wrestling, the national governing body for wrestling in the U.S. In addition, local wrestling clubs are selling tickets to the November event as a fundraiser, with the idea of nurturing youth and high school wrestling talent.
Victory Wrestling Challenge will be a homecoming of sorts for the Paulson twins and Sigman. Travis and Trent grew up in Council Bluffs, Iowa, across the river from Omaha; Sigman was one of the most successful wrestlers in the history of Nebraska-Omaha wrestling. All three have represented the U.S. at the World championships within the past four years.
Travis Paulson emphasized the synergy between traditional wrestling and mixed martial arts, saying, “Wrestling is the best base for MMA and it’s awesome to see a good MMA group support wrestling. It’s smart on their part and great for wrestling.”
Larry Nugent, USA Wrestling director of marketing, sees the partnership with the Omaha-based MMA organization as a winner for all involved.
“The relationship between USA Wrestling and the Victory Wrestling Challenge is a new but very promising one,” said Nugent. “Victory’s founder, Ryan Stoddard, is a strong business person with a realistic vision of the elite wrestling event market and its potential for growth. USA Wrestling views Victory as a testing lab of innovation and supports Ryan’s efforts to push his experience as a professional event promoter into action by partnering with us.”
Victory Fighting Championship’s Stoddard promises that the inaugural Victory Wrestling Challenge will have all the excitement of a top-notch MMA event.
“Fans in the Midwest have come to know Victory events as one thing – Bright Lights, Big Fights – and the Victory Wrestling Challenge will be no different,” according to Stoddard. “High-level wrestling with top-notch production and promotion will give this great sport and its amazing athletes every bit of recognition it deserves.”
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