Victory Wrestling Challenge announces initial matchups for kick-off event

By Jason Bryant Victory Wrestling Challenge | Oct. 29, 2013, 12:55 p.m. (ET)
OMAHA, Neb., October 29, 2013 -- The Victory Fighting Championships has announced 10 of the 12 featured bouts for the inaugural Victory Wrestling Challenge set for Ralston Arena in Omaha, Neb., on November 22.

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.

The matchups will feature a heavy regional flavor with wrestlers bringing a litany of credentials to the showcase mat. Fifteen wrestlers in the field have combined for 40 Division I, II, III, NAIA and Junior College All-American medals with six winning national championships. The champions are Les Sigman (four-time Division II champion), Raufeon Stots (two-time Division II champion) Trent Paulson (Division I champion), Max Askren (Division I champion), Deron Winn (two-time NJCAA champion) and Evan Brown (Division III champion).

The Victory Wrestling Challenge is not a tournament, rather a set card of wrestling matches showcasing various weights and styles of wrestling. There are no brackets, there are no wrestlebacks, it's simply a wrestling event with main-event style promotion to showcase the nation's top wrestlers and give the fans the complete experience they've come to love with events hosted by the Victory Fighting Championships.

Freestyle Matches
145 pounds - Raufeon Stots vs. Montell Marion
145 pounds - Laramie Shaffer vs. Tyler Bell
163 pounds - Trent Paulson vs. Nick Marable
163 pounds - Ridge Kiley vs. Eli Dominguez
185 pounds - Travis Paulson vs. Max Askren
185 pounds - Gennady Kolesnikov vs. George Ivanov
211 pounds - Ty Copsey vs. Deron Winn
211 pounds - Evan Brown vs. Josh Ihnen
264 pounds - Les Sigman vs. Jarod Trice

Greco-Roman Matches
163 pounds - Justin "Harry" Lester vs. Esai Dominguez

Two matches have yet to be determined, but Victory Fighting Championships veteran and Nebraska-Kearney All-American Joe Ellenberger will be competing in one of the two bouts.

At 145 pounds, two-time NCAA Division II champion Raufeon Stots will take on three-time Division I All-American Montell Marion. Stots wrestled collegiately for Marc Bauer and was a three-time college All-American, winning two titles at Nebraska-Kearney and placing fourth at the NJCAA championships while at Labette Community College. Marion wrestled for coach Tom Brands and was a two-time NCAA Division I finalist. Marion hails from Des Moines, Iowa.

Another bout at 145 pounds will feature Iowa native and Division II All-American Laramie Shaffer against Kansas native Tyler Bell. Shaffer started his career before transferring to Augustana College in Sioux Falls, S.D., and placing at the 2010 NCAA Division II championships. Bell wrestled collegiately at York College in Nebraska.

At 163 pounds, Trent Paulson and Nick Marable will do battle as will Ridge Kiley and Eli Dominguez. Paulson is a three-time Division I All-American and won the 2007 NCAA Division I championships. He's from Council Bluffs, Iowa. Marable is a two-time Division I All-American from Collierville, Tenn, and recently won the Tour ACW test event in Pittsburgh.

Kiley was a four-year starter at Nebraska under coach Mark Manning and a three-time NCAA Division I qualifier. He's originally from Eagle Grove, Iowa. He'll face Dominguez, a two-time Division II All-American at Nebraska-Omaha and a 2005 NCAA Division II runner-up. Dominguez is an Omaha native.

At 185 pounds, the other Paulson twin, Travis, will face Max Askren, a University of Missouri alum and three-time Division I All-American. Travis Paulson was a two-time All-American for coach Bobby Douglas at Iowa State. Askren was a 2010 NCAA Division I champion at 184 pounds.

Also at 185 pounds, former Nebraska-Omaha wrestler George Ivanov will face Russian native Gennady Kolesnikov. Ivanov, a Council Bluffs native, was an NCAA Division II runner-up and two-time All-American for UNO before the program was cut. He finished his career at Boise State where he twice qualified for the NCAA Division I championships. Kolesnikov trains with the Cyclone Wrestling Club in Ames, Iowa. He's from Moscow and having an opportunity to wrestle in the United States is one of his dreams. He'll get his first opportunity at the Victory Wrestling Challenge.

At 211 pounds, four-time Division II All-American Ty Copsey will face off with two-time Junior College national champion Deron Winn. Copsey placed four times for Augustana College, while Winn, a recent runner-up at the Tour ACW test event, won NJCAA titles at St. Louis-Meremac before finishing third at 197 pounds for Lindenwood during the Lions' final season in the NAIA. Winn also has trained at the Olympic Training Center and qualified for the 2012 Olympic Team Trials. He was recently a runner-up at the Tour ACW test event. Copsey has also been fighting in Victory events. Evan Brown, a past NCAA Division III champion at Dubuque, will face off with past Division I All-American Josh Ihnen in the other match at 211. Brown was a two-time Division III finalist, while Ihnen, a Nebraska graduate, was a four-time Division I qualifier and a 2012 All-American at 184 pounds. Copsey, Brown and Ihnen are all Iowa natives, while Winn hails from Liberty, Mo.

At 264 pounds, 2010 U.S. World Team member and four-time Division II heavyweight champion Les Sigman will square off against Central Michigan alum Jarod Trice, a three-time Division I All-American. Sigman will return to Omaha where he was the anchor of Mike Denney's UNO wrestling program. A Sturgis, S.D., native, Sigman trains at the Nittany Lion Wrestling Club in State College, Pa. Trice trains with Winn and Brown at the Cyclone Wrestling Club in Ames, Iowa.

In Greco-Roman, Ohio native Justin "Harry" Lester will wrestle Omaha native Esai Dominguez at 163 pounds. Lester is a two-time World Bronze medalist and a 2012 Olympian. He currently wrestles for the Army's World Class Athlete Program based at Fort Carson, Colo. Dominguez was a three-time Division II All-American at Nebraska-Omaha and won multiple-age group titles on the USA Wrestling national circuit.

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.


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.