MMA returns to Madison Square Garden later this month. Well, sort of.
The third annual Grapple at the Garden on Dec. 21 will feature more than a dozen professional MMA fighters on the mats in wrestling matches.
Gray Maynard, who twice fought for the UFC lightweight title, and Bellator bantamweight champion Joe Warren are among those scheduled to compete at Grapple at the Garden. Maynard was a three-time All-American wrestler at Michigan State. Warren earned All-American honors while wrestling for Michigan.
Other MMA fighters to wrestle at the Garden include Bellator light heavyweight Muhammed "King Mo" Lawal, an All-American wrestler at Oklahoma State, UFC flyweight Scott Jorgensen, Rolles Gracie, Gregor Gracie, Igor Gracie Damacio Page and Ozzy Dugulubgov.
The pairings for these matches are part of a Team Joe Warren vs. Team Renzo Gracie dual meet. Of the 16 people wrestling in the dual meet, 13 have professional MMA experience.
140 pounds: Stephen Abas vs. Rollie Peterkin
150: Joe Warren vs. Scott Jorgensen
150: Shawn Bunch vs. Damacio Page
155: Jordan Oliver vs. Frank Molinaro
170: Gray Maynard vs. Ozzy Dugulubgov
185: Gregor Gracie vs. Darryl Christian
190: Igor Gracie vs. Brennan Ward
Heavyweight: "King Mo" Lawal vs. Rolles Gracie
Grapple at the Garden is a wrestling showcase event featuring top college programs and individual matches between some of the world's elite wrestlers. It will be televised on pay-per-view. It also will stream live on GFL.tv.
The all-day event culminates will the main event of U.S. Olympic hopeful Kyle Dake in a Greco-Roman match against 2012 Olympic silver medalist Arsen Julfalakyan of Armenia. Dake, 23, was a four-time NCAA champion at Cornell, winning in a different weight class each year.
The co-main event features Khadzhimurat Gatsalov, the 2004 Olympic Gold medalist from Russia and five-time world champion since, and Tervel Dlagnev, a two-time NCAA champion for Division II Nebraska-Kearney from Bulgaria.
In the college team competition, there will be 25 schools representing all divisions of the NCAA, plus junior colleges and NCWA club programs. Among the schools competing are Cornell, Lehigh, Edinboro, Hofstra, Rutgers, Princeton, Northern Iowa, Stony Brook, Army and LIU Post.
Three Long Island high schools -- Glenn, Long Beach and Eastport-South Manor -- will compete in Grapple at the Garden's high school invitational on Saturday, Dec. 20.