MISSOULA — It had been about seven years since the city of Missoula hosted a mixed martial arts event. But that all changed on Saturday as regional MMA promotion Fusion Fight League held their "Fights Under the Lights" event at Ogren Park at Allegiance Field.
It was the first time FFL had made its way to the Garden City.
The event held 10 fights on Saturday, with Missoula native Dylan Schulte headlining the main event alongside Vance Elrod of Nevada. Schulte, a Missoula Sentinel graduate who now trains out of Colorado, weathered an early head kick from Elrod and submission attempts to eventually earn the first-round TKO victory in front of his home crowd.
"I've been dreaming about this since I was a kid, man," Schulte said after. "I remember training for wrestling tournaments when I was younger than 10. I was running the South Hills and I was dreaming of doing great things in front of this city and tonight it came true so I'm happy, man."
Elrod and Schulte fought at 145 pounds in a pro bout. They were one of two professional fights on the card on Saturday. Schulte improved to 4-3 as a pro with his fourth straight victory.
The other pro bout featured Missoula's Ryder Small and Colorado's Darien Robinson at 155 pounds. Robinson defeated Small by TKO in the first round.
Missoula's Dogpound Fight Team had five fighters on the card, and two walked away with quick victories. Hudson Kettengring starred in the fourth fight of the night with a first-round submission win over Missoula's Grant Wyland at 135 pounds. Then, heavyweight Justin Harbison made his amateur MMA debut and defeated Spokane's David Stratton by TKO in the first round of their fight.
Frenchtown's Walker Dyer and Dre Coles of Great Falls put on the most entertaining fight of the evening at 125 pounds. The pair of accomplished prep wrestlers went back-and-forth on the feet over three rounds, with Coles winning a split decision victory over Dyer.
Diesel's Counter Punch Gym out of Great Falls had plenty of representation on the night. Stephanie DiGiulio defeated Jen Valentine from Billings by second-round TKO at 135 pounds, while Joe Wilkins defeated Spokane's Amir Nurideen by triangle choke in the first round of their fight for the FFL amateur light heavyweight title.
Logan Riggs of Corvallis started the fight card strong with a 10-second knockout victory over Robert Badeaux of New Orleans at 145 pounds. Hamilton's Chad Stephens and Missoula's Justin Zachariasen followed that up with an entertaining three-round fight at 155 pounds, one Stephens won by unanimous decision. Bryce Nowak of Las Vegas also earned a win on the night, defeating Missoula's Conall Powers at 145 pounds.