The Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) community is one that I (Matt Blewett) knew almost nothing about 20 months ago. I had an assignment to cover a UFC event and needed to learn about the sports so I reached out to a local promoter, Jeremy Bjornberg who, at the time, was in the beginning stages of what has become the premier local MMA event organizing group in the state—the partnership between Driller Promotions and Sterling Entertainment Group.
The Minnesota Sports Report has covered many of their Twin Cities events over the last 15 months and has learned much about the MMA community. In fact, one of my most surprising revelations was how many of the fighters know each other. In one word, COMMUNITY was what stood out to me as a naive photographer learning about the MMA world.
Unfortunately on Saturday May 24, that community was stunned when an injury sustained in the ring sent one of its own to the hospital in critical condition. There are very few details (reputable ones anyway) that I have heard at this time, but one thing is clear. The MMA community is shocked and asking for thoughts and prayers for Dan Kiser.
There are two sources that I believe to be trustworthy at this point, Jeremy Bjornberg, co-owner of Sterling Entertainment Group and Dan’s promoter and Minnesota MMA News, an outfit that has taught me much about Minnesota’s MMA scene and culture. Unfortunately there are many rumors flying around. I will quote from Bjornberg’s statement on Facebook earlier today (Sunday):
“Sadly in lastnight (sic) Main Event one of our best friends and clients Dan Kiser was hurt and airlifted to Fargo. Dan isn’t one of the most loved fighters in Minnesota, he’s the MOST loved. He is known for heart, grit, determination and making everyone feel special. Dan is in cricitcal (sic) conditon (sic) and fighting for his life and showing all the qualities he has to battle thru (sic) this like the Champion he is.”
Many times as I would arrive early to set up, the arena would be empty, but Dan would be there and always welcomed me with a smile. Please keep Dan, his family and the Minnesota MMA Community in your thoughts and prayers. I will update The Minnesota Sports Report as I hear news.
UPDATE: May 26, 2014 – Just received an update from Sterling Entertainment’s Jeremy Bjornberg’s Facebook page.
“Just got done visiting Dan Kiser. Not surprising Dan is heroically battling and defying odds. Although the battle is far from won or over today was definitely a big step in the right direction as he is showing some great signs as he fights the fight of his life. The support has been heartwarming as so many friends, fans and people from the National MMA world are feeling the same pain and letting us know they are in his corner.“
Special thanks to Jesse Kelly for the photo of Dan walking to the ring.