Kurle brings IFC to Civic Center

It's been a number of years since it was last featured in Jamestown, but on Saturday mixed martial arts, courtesy of Impact Fighting Championship out of Bismarck, will be making its return to the Jamestown Civic Center.

Submitted photo From left, Junior Zinck, Jesse Diaz, Daniel Perez and Corey Ashland are members of the ND Warrior Fight Club. Perez and Ashland are making their MMA debut here Saturday night.

It's been a number of years since it was last featured in Jamestown, but on Saturday mixed martial arts, courtesy of Impact Fighting Championship out of Bismarck, will be making its return to the Jamestown Civic Center.

Ever since the airing of Ultimate Fighting Championship's (UFC) reality show, The Ultimate Fighter, on primetime television back in the mid-2000s, mixed martial arts, or MMA fighting, has exploded in popularity nationwide.

Traditionally a pay-per-view televised event, the exposure the show gave the industry has brought leagues of new fans to the sport, which can now arguably be considered more popular amongst fighting enthusiasts than boxing.

Billed as Impact Fighting Championship Fully Loaded, the brand of fighting coming to Jamestown this weekend won't be on the scale of UFC, which is the largest MMA promotion company in the world. But it will, for all intents and purposes, bring the exact same fighting style and excitement for those attending to enjoy.

"We feature some of the best fighters from the upper-Midwest. Local talent, basically," said Impact Fighting Championship founder Chad Kurle. "It's not big names. We don't have any delusions about competing with UFC. We just want to have some good fights and put on a good quality product."


Prior to creating Impact Fighting Championship (IFC), Kurle began a three-year stint as the head of the North Dakota State Athletic Commission in 2006, when mixed martial arts became legal in the state of North Dakota. The sport is now regulated under the office of the secretary of state, which regulates a maximum of two mixed fight style or boxing events in the state per month.

"I did that for about three years and then I decided I wanted to create a venue for people to fight in, and I came up with Impact Fighting Championship," Kurle said. "We ran our first event in October of last year at the Bismarck Civic Center and had about 1,700 people that showed up."

IFC Fully Loaded in Jamestown will be the MMA promotion company's fifth event since its inception one year ago. Along with three Jamestown fighters and one fighter from Valley City competing, the night will be highlighted with the IFC welterweight (170 pound) title bout between Linton native Leo "The Lion" Kuntz (11-1) and 60-plus fight veteran Derek Abram of Minneapolis.

A total of 11 fights are scheduled, beginning at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, which is subject to change if a fighter doesn't make weight or produces negative blood work results. Weigh-ins are scheduled for today at 7:30 p.m. at the Quality Inn and Suites of Jamestown and is open to the public.

"It's a professional sport. All the fighters get paid, they all have to undergo blood testing, they all have to be licensed by the state of North Dakota and they have to have a federal MMA identification card," Kurle said. "These guys have to go through the same licensing requirements that they would have to go through if a UFC or a Bellator (event) came to North Dakota."

A pair of co-main events are also on Saturday night's fight card, the more interesting of the two will be between Bismarck's Ryan Burwick (4-2) and Bryan King (4-0) of Minneapolis. That fight will be the semi-final round of IFC's lightweight (155 pound) tournament.

The IFC's lightweight champion will be crowned in Bismarck on Dec. 3.

"Ryan's a ground guy, and King's a standup fighter," Kurle said. "They're going to go at it, and whoever wins that fight earns the right to face a fighter out of Ohio for the title in December."


The other co-main event will pit South Dakota's Lawrence Kiyukan (1-1) against Fargo's Jess Fuhriman at 140 pounds.

Rounding out Saturday's fighting will be Jamestown's Paul Patrick (1-2) vs. Bismarck's Steve Schumacher (3-2) at 165, Fargo's Jade Pergande (4-4) vs. Bismarck's Chris Hugh (8-7) at 185, Montana's Joe Yellowhammer (0-1) vs. Matt Pazanin (3-0) at 195, Jamestown's Daniel Perez (0-0) vs. Fort Yates' Michael Baker (2-2) at 155, Montana's Maurice Elk (0-0) vs. Minneapolis's Chris McAllister (1-0) at 155, Montana's Delmar Martell (0-1) vs. Minneapolis's Ken Glenn (2-1) at 145, Minneapolis's Robbie Gotreau (7-1) vs. Valley City's Travis McCullough (20-29) at 185 and Jamestown's Corey Ashland (0-0) vs. Fort Yates' M.J. Gayton (1-3) at 145.

All the fights will consist of 3 five-minute rounds, except the title bout between Kuntz and Abram, which will be 5 five-minute rounds.

"There hasn't been an event like this in Jamestown since probably 2005. It wasn't illegal then, but it wasn't regulated so it was up to each individual city whether or not they wanted to do it," Kurle said. "I believe this is kind of a fight town, and I think we are going to see a good turnout here on Saturday."

Organizers are hoping IFC Fully Loaded brings around 1,200 people to the Civic Center. Tickets are still available at the Civic Center box office or at Trax Bar of Jamestown.

"There's a real pure competition aspect of it. If you lose you can't blame anybody but yourself, and the nature of the sport is one guys wins, one guys loses," Kurle said. "You can tap out, you submit, you can get knocked out, there's not a lot of gray area in it. It can go to the judges, but even then usually everyone knows who won and who lost.

"We just want to try to put on a good night of fights for the people to come out and enjoy."

The local connection


A pair of Jamestown fighters will be making their MMA debuts this Saturday night during IFC Fully Loaded at the Jamestown Civic Center.

Nineteen-year-old Corey Ashland will be taking on M.J. Gayton, of Fort Yates, at 145 pounds, while 29-year-old Daniel Perez will get in the cage with Michael Baker, also of Fort Yates, at 155 pounds.

Both Ashland and Perez are members of the ND Warrior Fight Club, based out of Jamestown.

"I've always wanted to be a cage fighter. I saw my opportunity and I took it," said Perez, who's originally from Corpus Christi, Texas. "I just want to put on a good show, stay safe and hopefully pull out a win."

The ND Warrior Fight Club came to fruition just weeks ago, with founding members Jesse Diaz and Paul Patrick, both of Jamestown, and Perez. Diaz and Patrick were originally founders of Team Diaz three years ago, and both have 3 MMA fights under their belts.

Patrick (1-2) will also be fighting on Saturday, taking on Bismarck's Steve Schumacher at 165.

According to its members, the club functions as a place to train and stay in shape between MMA events.

"It's just something for us fighters to have more of a family setting," Diaz said. "I figured this would help give us some good publicity and get people interested in (MMA fighting)."


As soon as the club got word Perez, Ashland and Patrick would be fighting this weekend, they've been coming together every day to give their fighters the best chance they can at winning on Saturday.

"I'd like (all three) to win. But if everyone comes out safe, that's all I can ask for," Diaz said. "I just want them to give 100 percent."

The club is hoping for a good turnout at the Civic Center, to hopefully get more people involved in the sport.

"Come support your local fighters. I'm sure a lot of people don't know we have fighters in Jamestown," Diaz said. "If you like boxing, this might be a show for you to come out and watch."

Sun sports writer Michael Savaloja can be reached at (701) 952-8461 or by email at

Savaloja is the sports lead writer for The Jamestown Sun.
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