Atlantic City is no stranger to hosting college sports events; Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall was the site of a few football bowl games in the 1960’s and 70’s.  The MAAC men’s and women’s basketball championships will be there again this March is the latest hoop events held at the arena on the boardwalk.

Now it’s wrestling’s turn.

Hard Rock Casino Resort will be hosting a dual match afternoon between Columbia University and West Virginia University Sunday at 2:30 p.m. that will be shown on UFC Fight Pass.  It’s part of a wrestling doubleheader that will feature a high school bout between St. Augustine Prep and Collingswood at 12 pm.  Both matches will be held at Hard Rock Live’s Etess Arena and will be shown on UFC Fight Pass.

The event is being staged by Vineland-based Cage Fury Fighting Championships as part of the organization’s Match Day program.

CFFC Match Day debuted last November 1 when the U.S. Military Academy took on Campbell University and North Carolina State faced Presbyterian in Fayetteville, North Carolina.  Subsequent events included Iowa State at Cleveland State (November 5), Campbell at Wyoming (November 17), and Illinois at Missouri (December 21).

“We put on the Campbell-Wyoming match in a giant barn on a 4,000-acre farm in Wyoming,” CFFC president Rob Haydak said.

Although primarily known as a top regional MMA company, CFFC president Rob Haydak has long wanted to incorporate wrestling.  Long before he took over CFFC in 2011, the Vineland native was heavily involved in wrestling.

“Wrestling is my passion,” Haydak said.

His involvement with the sport dates back to the late 1980’s, when he was a standout on Vineland High School’s powerhouse wrestling teams under coach Dennis Miller.  The 1988 version of the Fighting Clan won the South Jersey Group IV team championship, becoming the second local school to win a sectional title after Lower Cape May Regional won South Jersey Group II in 1982.

After wrestling at Wagner University, Haydak eventually returned to the area and served as Head Wrestling Coach at Sacred Heart High School (which has since closed) for 10 seasons.

His coaching career included a trip to Boardwalk Hall. In 2008, he helped Scott Kelley reach the state individual finals at 160 pounds.  Kelley lost to Jackson Memorial’s Scott Winston, who thus became the first New Jersey high school wrestler to go undefeated in his career.

He took over CFFC in 2011, four years after it was forced to fold after a major investor withdrew its support.  Interestingly, the company was started in 2006 by Felix and Amy Martinez.  Felix was one of Haydak’s Vineland High teammates.

“As much as I enjoy doing MMA, wrestling is my first love,” Haydak said. “If I could do only wrestling events like this one, I’d be perfectly happy.”

Tickets for Sunday’s match start at $19.25 and are available through

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