O-What a Throwdown
I've watched MMA on TV. But being AT a Mixed Martial Arts events in a complete sensory immersion and adrenalin rush.
A crowd of approximately two-thousand gathered at the Four Seasons Centre in Owatonna for the O-Town Throwdown Saturday night. The 18-fight card featured at least six Owatonna fighters, plus many others from southern Minnesota. All the local fighters had vocal cheering sections spurring them on. After Owatonna's Christina Jobe won her bout she said the hometown crowd was an extra inspiration.
OHS grad Travis Wiuff was the Main Event. The 5-hour wait for his match was worth it. Wuiff got control of his opponent (Terry DaVinney of Michigan) quickly and scored a win by TKO in the first period. It was Wuiff's 70th career won in MMA. The UFC-veteran hopes to make it on the big scene again. He thanked the fans, his family and his former high school coach Scot Davis, who was attending his first MMA event. Wuiff is currently an assistant wrestling and football coach at Kasson Mantorville. He works with special needs kids in the KM school district.
Some of the fights were dominated by ground time, each fighter wanting to keep the other in close quarters, locking up each others hands. But when those hands got free the punches came flying and the fans jumped their feet and roared. When the fighters were on their feet there was some boxing and a number of kicks thrown. Multiple forms of martial arts were on display. But most of the battlers seemed to have a wrestling background, as I learned sitting along side Davis and the Hovden family. I sat next to MMA fan Adam Hovden who answered many of my questions. Those queries had to be yelled at him as the music was pretty loud!
Speaking of loud, I'm pretty sure the competitors might have heard Larry Hovden! He was absolutely getting into the action! I wish I had a mic on him. It would have sounded great on KRFO AM 1390! It was a joy to visit with Scot, talking about Owatonna wrestling and how things are going for him after his first year as the Eden Prairie head wrestling coach. As the night progressed, more and more of his former wrestlers stopped by to share a word or two!
Another famous face-in-the-crowd was Minnesota Viking Marcus Sherels. The Rochester-native was there to cheer on Wiuff. Sherels spent a fair portion of his night getting his picture taken with fans. He really seemed to enjoy interacting with the fans.
OHS grad Richard Rodriguez compete in a bracketed tournament Saturday night. He won his first bout, but was upset in the semifinals when his opponent dominated the overtime session. (If I understand it, for the 'tournament' the three minute first round is a chance for one fighter to win with a choke out or TKO. Then the judges score the overtime.)
Owatonna's Danyelle Williams was in the co-main event. Williams pounded his opponent into submission in the first round.
50+ year old David Sellner of Owatonna lost to a competitor nearly 30 years younger.
I was surprised at the sportsmanship shown between the fighters, who embraced after each bout. Think about that for a moment. You battle a guy (or gal) trying to pound him (her) in the face. Then hug afterward. This is after all a sport. You compete hard and respect your opponent. It's unfortunate a few fans in the crowd couldn't observe this!
I learned some new terms:
"triangle choke" "rear naked choke"
"last call for beer at Four Seasons Centre"
"HIT HIM IN THE FACE"
(shouted by a woman sitting behind me)
I don't believe any of them will come into play when I call OHS wrestling next winter.
The O-Town Throwdown was a thrill. I'll go again!