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Popular fighting event returns to Detroit Lakes

Gemenie Strehlow will make his fighting debut Saturday during the No Mercy II event at Kent Freeman Arena. SUBMITTED PHOTO

After a successful Mixed Martial Arts fight card debut in Detroit Lakes last year, the second coming of fights are back this Saturday inside Kent Freeman Arena.

Driller Promotions has been the state’s top MMA organization since 2010 and for the first time, it will bring its high-energy brand of MMA to the North Country Saturday.

Driller presents “No Mercy II” at Kent Freeman Arena with event features six professional bouts and more than 12 total fights.

The night is highlighted by a heavyweight title fight between Frazee native Brian Heden and UFC veteran Travis “Diesel” Wiuff.

One of the sport’s most veteran fighters, Wiuff recently picked up the 70th professional victory of his wildly successful MMA career. He ranks in the top five among all MMA fighters for career wins.

Wiuff, who is an Owatonna native, is a veteran of nearly every major promotion, including the UFC, Pride and Bellator. He’s considered the top-ranked heavyweight in Minnesota

With his win over Bellator veteran Terry Davinney in April, Wiuff earned a shot at the inaugural Driller Promotions heavyweight title. But he must get past Heden to earn the belt.

Heden brings a 28-13 pro record into the fight. He holds a victory over UFC veteran Sean McCorkle and is ranked No. 5 among Minnesota’s heavyweights.

Several other top prospects will compete May 24 in Detroit Lakes.

Minnesota’s Dan “The King” Kiser will put his 145-pound belt on the line against veteran striker Frankie Johnson. Kiser is the No. 2-ranked 145-pounder in Minnesota. A win over Johnson likely will earn Kiser a shot with a national promotion.

Also, Bellator veteran Nick “The Big Hurt” Kirk returns to action in a rematch against Erik Vo. Kirk is one of the top 135-pounders in Minnesota, and he’s a former Golden Gophers wrestler.

Top middleweight prospect Reese Hernandez of Thief River falls is scheduled to compete on the professional portion of the card, too.

Local standouts Kyler Wegner, Patrick Lee, Gemenie Strehlow and Anthony Caputo also are on the night’s undercard.

For the 34-year-old Strehlow, who is a Lake Park-Audubon graduate, it will be his professional fighting debut.

Strehlow picked up the passion for MMA during his Air Guard tour in Afghanistan, where he was stationed for seven months in 2013.

“Some of the guys and I who were deployed in Afghanistan started training for (MMA fighting),” Strehlow said. “We trained with our combative training, wrestling and jiu-jitsu.”

Strehlow came back home Oct. 21, 2013, and resumed his training with Lakes Area Boxing’s Chris Holt, the Danger Zone’s Dion Sgro and jiu-jitsu training in Grand Forks.

Saturday it’s time to show what he’s learned from months of training.

“I’m pretty confident in myself and have that never quit attitude,” Strehlow said. “Having the home crowd is also a nice advantage to have, but at the same time, there’s a little more pressure on me to perform well in front of them.”

The event begins at 7 p.m. on May 24. Tickets for “No Mercy II” are available from participating fighters and online at

Tickets start at $25.

Brian Wierima
Detroit Lakes Newspapers Sports Editor for the last 15 years. St. Cloud State University graduate, who hails from Deer Creek, MN.