Brock Larson enjoys contact.
As a linebacker for the Brainerd Warriors he played like a heat-seeking missile. As a senior he was state runner-up at 171 pounds in the 1996 Class 2A wrestling tournament.
Now a Warriors assistant wrestling coach, Larson maintains his affinity for contact sports by competing in Ultimate Fighting Championships, a combination of martial arts, wrestling, boxing and kickboxing. Eye-gouging and striking in the groin are the only things not permitted in the anything goes world of Ultimate Fighting.
Matches usually consist of three 5-minute rounds and last until stopped by the referee, a fighter submits or a fighter is knocked out.
Larson trains at a martial arts facility in the home of Jared Feierabend in Fort Ripley, which is affiliated with the Minnesota Martial Arts Academy, and he also trains in the Twin Cities.
Feierabend said the MMAA considers the 185-pound Larson a promising Ultimate Fighter. Larson is 16-1 in submission matches, which resemble wrestling matches but end when the opponent "taps out" or concedes.
"The MMAA was so impressed with Brock's first fight and his submission matches that they believe he's going to be a champion," Feierabend said. "They're already starting to set up fights internationally."
The 25-year-old Larson is 1-0 in Ultimate Fighting with a match this weekend in Iowa. Next on his schedule are fights in Tennessee, North Dakota and possibly Japan.
Larson said Ultimate Fighting could become a full-time occupation but he's not banking on it. Only top-flight Ultimate Fighters are well-compensated.
"Down the road, if the road goes that way, it could be but I'm not counting on that," Larson said. "I'm still working at Anderson Bros. (Construction Co.)"
Brainerd High School assistant wrestling coach Brock Larson talked about his training to compete in Ultimate Fighting, a combination of martial arts, wrestling and boxing. (Dispatch Photo by Steve Kohls)
Larson has been training with Feierabend for about two years. Larson was intrigued by martial arts and boxing.
"Jared said he needed a wrestler and I wanted to come and see if the stuff actually worked," Larson said. "They were having a hard time with wrestlers, so I said sure. We went down to the (high school) wrestling room, and Jared choked me out. He submitted me a whole bunch of times and I thought, 'This stuff is pretty good.' I outweighed him by 40 pounds at that time probably and he's making me cry like a baby, but not anymore."
Larson's wrestling background has helped with balance and base in Ultimate Fighting.
"Wrestling gave him the positions, the jujitsu gave him the finish," Feierabend said. "Brock is really good at jujitsu. He picked it up really quick, and the kickboxing he started not too long ago. He's doing really well at that too."
Jujitsu features holds, throws and blows to subdue or disable an opponent.
"Jujitsu gives Brock all of his submissions to finish the fights, so if an opponent taps out that's from submission," Feierabend said. "Wrestling gives him the ability to get his takedowns, which is usually how he finishes opponents. If it goes to the ground that's where submission comes in. In Ultimate Fighting he can go in, pick his guy up and slam him on his head if it gives him the knockout."
Larson is one of 15-20 people who train at Feierabend's gym. The facility will move to Larson's home in April and plans to move to downtown Brainerd in the fall.
"We're happy to have Brock at our school," Feierabend said. "He has improved everybody's game.
"The amount of professionalism Brock shows is uncanny. That might be because of his coaching background. Brock is never a guy who would go out in the street and use his knowledge of submission holds. He's got tons of heart.
"What impresses me most about Brock is his humbleness. A lot of guys say they train with UFC champions and they walk around and talk. You rarely see Brock talk about it, and he's training with the best guys in the country."
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