OMAHA, Neb. -- After years of success developing and promoting mixed-martial artists and events, the Victory Fighting Championship is excited to announce its first foray into wrestling with the Victory Wrestling Challenge, set for Nov. 22 at Ralston Arena in Omaha, Neb.
Victory FC has helped launch the careers of prominent MMA fighters and will now thrust wrestling's heroes into the spotlight.
The Victory Wrestling Challenge is a freestyle and Greco-Roman event featuring past World and Olympic wrestlers in a 12-bout card. The event will bring together Victory FC's first-class promotion of events and grassroots wrestling clubs to provide not only an entertaining night of wrestling in both international styles, but also give back to wrestling by pledging a portion of each ticket sold to USA Wrestling, the National Governing Body for wrestling in the United States.
In addition to donating funds to USA Wrestling to assist in senior-level athletes training, local wrestling clubs have been able to sell tickets as a fundraiser, with each club getting a portion of the proceeds to help stimulate wrestling at the high school and youth levels.
"The relationship between USA Wrestling and the Victory Wrestling Challenge is a new but very promising one," said USA Wrestling Director of Marketing Larry 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."
Nugent also believes a main-event style promotion will help promote the sport and entertain audiences.
"The great thing Victory Wrestling Challenge can utilize in their promotions are our elite wrestlers," Nugent said. "They are entertaining professionals in every sense of the word, except they don't have enough opportunities to use their rare skills to financially support themselves and their families. A successful Challenge can lead to more of these opportunities in the future."
Based in suburban Omaha, Ralston Arena is a prime location for the wrestling-friendly Midwest. The location will also serve as a homecoming of sorts for Victory Wrestling Challenge participants Les Sigman and Trent and Travis Paulson. Sigman was a four-time NCAA Division II champion for coach Mike Denney at the University of Nebraska-Omaha, while the Paulson twins are natives of Council Bluffs, Iowa, which sits just across the Missouri River from Omaha. Trent Paulson's opponent will be announced later this month.
Victory Fighting Championships President Ryan Stoddard is extremely upbeat about what's to come at Ralston Arena.
"I am very excited about the Victory brand launching itself into another combat sport and being able to have such high-level athletes like the Paulson twins and Les Sigman as part of our inaugural event," said Stoddard. "I am also extremely excited about our partnership with USA Wrestling to develop a first-of-its-kind wrestling promotion that can not only give back to the sport, but also stimulate the future of wrestling as well."
Sigman and the Paulson's have represented the U.S. at the Wrestling World Championships in the last four years.
"This is going to be a great opportunity," said Travis Paulson. "Once I heard about it, I jumped at the opportunity. I think it's going to be the future for guys who graduate and are looking to go out and compete."
Paulson is also looking forward to competing with his twin brother Trent on the same day.
"Since we usually wrestled different weights, I don't think we've wrestled back-to-back since we were in college. It's going to be exciting," said Paulson. "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."
Sigman is set to square off against three-time Division I All-American Jarod Trice, a recent graduate of Central Michigan University. Travis Paulson, a three-time NCAA All-American at Iowa State is set to face Max Askren, a Missouri graduate and Wisconsin native. Askren was a three-time All-American and a 2010 NCAA Division I champion.
In addition to freestyle matches, the event will also showcase Greco-Roman wrestling, as UNO alum, Esai Dominguez, will step to the mat. Dominguez is an Omaha native who wrestled scholastically at Creighton Prep. Dominguez, a three-time NCAA Division II All-American, is 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 event is MMA veteran Joe Ellenberger, a regular 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.
Victory Wrestling Challenge will also compete under the same rules as international wrestling, but with a few minor alterations to further enhance the excitement inside Ralston Arena.
"We're going to run the exact same rules as the U.S. World Team Trials, with the exception that the Greco matches will also have overtime," said Zac Dominguez owner of Freco, a former Greco-Roman wrestler who is helping Victory FC with its wrestling initiative. "Two point takedowns, all turns are two and unlimited overtime. The current rule structure (the U.S.) used at the Trials keeps it simple and keeps it smart."
Dominguez, Esai's older brother, also heads up Nebraska USA Wrestling's freestyle and Greco program. He wrestled collegiately at Nebraska before training exclusively in Greco-Roman from 2000-2006. He was also an assistant coach at Nebraska-Omaha.
"There's times where you never got to see great matchups and ideally what we're trying to do is create all the what-if scenarios for the fans, coaches and moms and dads out there," said Dominguez. "Ryan runs a really good show. He's a fantastic promoter and he's got all the right things in place."
"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. High-level wrestling with top-notch production and promotion will give this great sport and its amazing athletes every bit of recognition it deserves," said Stoddard.
Said Stoddard: "November 22 will be a very special night and I hope to see as many wrestling and MMA fans there as possible."
WHAT: Victory Wrestling Challenge 1
WHERE: Ralston Arena, Omaha, Neb.
WHEN: Friday, Nov. 22, 7:30 p.m. Central
TICKETS: $25 General Admission; $750 for seated table (10 spectators)
BUY ONLINE: www.homepridetix.com
For more information about the Victory Wrestling Challenge and the Victory Fighting Championships
fans are encouraged to visit victoryfighter.com, Facebook.com/VictoryWrestlingChallenge and Twitter @Victoryfighting to stay up-to-date on the latest match-ups and news.
About Victory Fighting Championship
Victory Fighting Championship is the premier mixed martial arts organization in the Midwest. Headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska, Victory has provided its thousands of fans with high-quality, competitive, and entertaining fights since 2002. A catalyst for success, Victory has launched the careers of numerous elite fighters such as UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson, Spencer Fisher, Jorge Gurgel, Josh Neer, Chad Reiner, Bobby Volker, Jacob Volkmann, T.J O'Brien, Kevin Burns, Jake Ellenberger, Ryan Jensen, Houston Alexander, Brian Foster, Jason Brilz, Anthony Smith, Justin Salas, Nick Mamalis, Rob Kimmons, Chris Camozzi, Abe Wagner, Junior Hernandez, Brian Houston, and Travis Browne. These Victory fighters have made their way to the largest, most competitive stages across the United States including the bright lights of the UFC. As an institution that continues to grow, thrive and gain strong, consistent momentum, Victory Fighting Championship presents fights at the region's top venues and in front of the best crowds. Bright Lights, Big Fights.