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A successful MMA fighting debut

Steve Lafriniere (left) won his MMA debut after training with Lucas Holzhueter (right) of Detroit Lakes. SUBMITTED PHOTO

Eight weeks ago Steven Lafriniere of Mahnomen was just another guy who watched Mixed Martial Arts for many years and wondered what it would be like to get in the ring. 

After hearing about a local card coming to the Shooting Star Casino, he contacted a friend who was also interested in fighting, Alex Neeland of Lake George. 

Both men jumped at the opportunity to experience what it was like to get in the ring.

On Feb. 4, Lafriniere contacted the Detroit Lakes School of Taekwondo & Kumdo’s mixed martial arts program, Lakes Area Warriors MMA.

After first contacting Head Coach Lucas Holzhueter, Lafriniere explained his fight was seven weeks out and he had little experience.

Holzhueter was apprehensive at first, since fighters usually start training, and then after they have the basic skills hammered out, start looking for fights.

Training at L.A.W. MMA involved extensive cardiovascular training, grappling, kickboxing, and mental toughness.

The first few nights were tough and three weeks in, Lafriniere sparred for the first time in three, five-minute rounds, just like he would see in the ring. 

Holzhueter recalls after the first round how Lafriniere didn’t want to get back up from sheer exhaustion.

The last 4 weeks were spent refining skills, increasing cardio and making a game plan. 

After seven weeks of intense training, Lafriniere made great headway and felt ready to hit the ring.    

His opportunity came March 28, as Lafriniere weighed in at 218 pounds, near the bottom of the Heavyweight class, while his opponent weighed 280 pounds, which was well above the top of the class.

Still undaunted, he prepared for the battle ahead. 

At approximately 9:30 p.m. Lafriniere heard his walk in music, “Mama Said Knock You Out” by Five Finger Death Punch, a song his mom picked out for him. 

The cage door locked and Lafriniere claims “the world went almost quiet,” as it was only Lafriniere and Neeland now.

Lafriniere dropped Neeland with a right hook about eight seconds into the bout and finished off his opponent with some ground and pound from a mount near the cage wall. 

Just 18 seconds into the fight, the ref pulled Lafriniere off Neeland and the fight was over.

It was the fastest TKO of the evening.      

Lafriniere says win or lose he just wanted to experience what it was like train for a fight, stand toe-to-toe with another man, and leave it all in the ring.

Lafriniere thanked his coach, Master Lucas Holzhueter and all the guys at Lakes Area Warriors (L.A.W.) MMA for everything.

He couldn’t ask for a better trainer or group of training partners, he said.

Lafriniere would also like to thank his opponent Neeland and his supporters for supporting the local MMA scene.

Lafriniere plans to keep training, says he hopes he will be back in the ring soon, and invites others to reach for their goals, come down and train.