Have you missed seeing former Hawkeye wrestling greats like Brent Metcalf, Tony Ramos, and Matt McDonough take the mat? Good news -- in a little over a month you can see them hit the mat for Agon V: Iowa Against The World at the U.S. Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids. Agon V is a professional wrestling card being put together by the Agon promotion -- and by "professional wrestling" I mean that in the most literal sense. This is wrestling similar to what you'd see at the Big Ten Tournament* -- only with the competitors actually being compensated.
Agon hasn't had a show for a while -- since March 2014, in fact -- but they're pulling out all the stops for this show, putting together a card loaded with former Iowa standouts and pitting them against some of the best wrestlers the rest of the country has to offer. The main event is Brent Metcalf taking on Aaron Pico. Metcalf is the current U.S. standard bearer at 66 kg and among the best in the world at that weight. Pico is the 18-year old phenom who's bucking to replace Metcalf -- he skipped college to pursue a career in freestyle wrestling (and, eventually, MMA) and he's already enjoyed quite a bit of success, winning a silver medal at the FILA Junior World Championships last season and picking up more medals at a variety of freestyle events over the last six months. Pico figures to be Metcalf's stiffest competition over the next few years, especially for the coveted spot on the 2016 U.S. Olympic team -- this will be an early chance to see how he stacks up with Metcalf.
The co-main event for Agon V features another former Iowa wrestler who's enjoyed recent success in the freestyle ranks, Tony Ramos. Ramos is taking on Henry Cejudo, the 2008 Olympic gold medalist who's been pursuing an MMA career recently. Cejudo hasn't been exclusively focused on wrestling for a while, but he should still be a hell of a test for Ramos.
The full card for Agon V isn't quite set yet, but what's been announced so far looks very impressive:
That... is a pretty stacked lineup. McDonough's match with Angelo Escobedo is not yet confirmed -- the official release from Agon has McDonough facing an opponent "to be announced" -- but it would be another tremendous-looking match if it is finalized. Escobedo was the only wrestler to defeat Matt McDonough during his freshman seasons, a 6-4 loss in the finals of the Big Ten Tournament. Escobedo got upset at the NCAA Tournament that season before McDonough could get a shot at a rematch.
Even if McDonough-Escoebdo isn't finalized, though, the card will feature one match that's a rematch from the competitors' collegiate careers. Derek St. John is slated to face an old nemesis, Northwestern's Jason Welch. They last met
in the final collegiate match for both men, in the NCAA Championship match at 157 lbs in 2013. DSJ won, 3-2, continuing a trend of success for St. John in his matches against Welch (he went 6-0 against Welch in college). Hopefully that trend continues at Agon V.
The final former Iowa wrestler that's been announced for Agon V is Phil Keddy, taking on Deron Winn, a former JUCO national champion. Keddy was one of the more unsung members of Iowa's 2008-2010 national champion teams, but he was a three-time All-American and twice finished as Big Ten runner-up. He was very good and a key member of those teams, even if he didn't taste as much individual success as guys like Metcalf, McDonough, or Jay Borschel. He's also been a regular freestyle competitor since leaving Iowa, competing out of the Hawkeye Wrestling Club.
Not only is Agon V a showcase of former Hawkeye greats, though, it's also a chance to see future Hawkeyes in action. 2017 recruit Justin Mejia is the first prep wrestler announced for the card, though it sounds like there will be more announced in the future and it wouldn't be a surprise if more future Hawkeyes were among those tabbed to appear. (Obviously the high school wrestlers competing on the card will not be compensated, so as to preserve their amateur status.)
Mejia is a state champion out of California, ranked #2 in the country at 113 lbs and the #13 overall recruit in the 2017 class (per Intermat). Gomez is a state champion out of Illinois, ranked #3 in the country at 113 lbs and the #18 overall recruit in the 2017 class (per Intermat). Our friend sat IAWrestle have much more on that match (including video of Mejia and Gomez in action), so give them a click.
* Agon doesn't use true folkstyle (aka, college wrestling) or freestyle rules -- rather they use a blend of both. Takedowns and reversals require the same amount of control that you see in folkstyle, but the action on the mat is much more limited and similar to freestyle. We won't see guys "controlling" another guy from top position for several minutes at this event. Agon also uses a push out rule similar to freestyle wrestling. A full breakdown of the rules is available on Agon's website.
The event is a little over a month away, on Friday, April 3rd at the U.S. Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids, IA. Rumors originally had the event taking place at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on April 4, but those plans evidently fell through. Still, if you're an Iowa wrestling fan in the area, this looks like a must-see event. Tickets are available here. No TV or online streaming plans have been officially announced yet.