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Fans pack Freeman Arena to cheer on local MMA fighters

Trainer and corner man Chris Holt wears his Brian Heden T-shirt proudly and has a celebratory word with Heden, who won early in the 1st round Saturday. BRIAN WIERIMA/DL NEWSPAPERS

It was a unique Saturday event, with around 1,000 fight fans clamoring into the hot and humid Kent Freeman Arena to enjoy the first Mixed Martial Arts card in Detroit Lakes in over eight years.

With six bouts on the card, featuring several local fighters, the roar of the crowd was evident as a good show was put on inside the MMA cage. The event was run by Full Nelson Promotions and the Lakes Area Boxing club.

“Wow, how awesome was that?” proclaimed LAB head trainer Chris Holt, who helped put on the event. “It just turned out great and the fans got to see what MMA fighting is all about.”

A trio of local fighters injected some energy in the crowd with impressive first-round victories, as Kody Sorenson, Kyler Wegner and Brian Heden were able to put the beat down on their opponents.

The fight of the night ended up being Wegner’s submission rear-naked choke hold win over Davonte Nunn in the first round.

Wegner went toe-to-toe for much of the fight with Nunn, but a huge takedown midway through the first round was the momentum turner.

“I was patient and I knew when I got him to the mat, it worked in my favor,” Wegner said. “That first takedown was a huge momentum changer and when I got that second one and he gave me his back, I knew I was either going to get in the rear-naked choke or just start punching him.”

The former came into play and Nunn tapped out, as a pumped-up Wegner celebrated by climbing the cage and posing victoriously for the home-town crowd.

It was Wegner’s first professional MMA win, as he improves to 1-1.

“He got one shot in on me where I saw some stars, but I recovered pretty quickly and kept my chin down and went back to my game plan,” Wegner said. “That was the loudest I’ve ever heard a crowd, it was awesome.”

Wegner’s fight was followed by the feature bout of Heden against South Minneapolis’ Shane DeZee.

The fight was short-lived for DeZee, as Heden overpowered him, railed him with a right hook and ended it with a submission.

“I knew he was going to come in with some leg kicks, so the plan was to get in close and take those away,” Heden said. “I was able to get inside early and get that right hook in, which took him off his feet.”

Once Heden was able to control DeZee on the mat, it was game over.

“The crowd was loud and crazy,” Heden said. “It’s been eight years since I’ve been able to fight in front of a hometown crowd, so it was fun.”

Heden has been offered an opportunity to fight in Oklahoma City, Okla., Oct. 16, while he also has a fight set for Jan. 11 at Scheels Arena in Fargo.

“I’m going to get back to it early and keep my weight down and keep my cardio up,” Heden added.

Other fights included Frazee and NDSU wrestler Sorenson winning by submission over Chris Renwick; Fargo’s Corey Ulmer over Frazee’s Zach Sullinger in amateur action; NDSU’s Anthony Caputo over Victor Romariz and Jake Eagan over Casey Luken.

All six fights ended in the first round, which is the “nature of the beast,” said Holt, but each one was entertaining nonetheless.

“There was definite interest in the fights and I would love to bring a card back here next spring,” Holt said. “Kent Freeman was a great venue to hold it in and we learned what to do better next time around.

“You get one chance to make that first impression and I think we did that.”

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