Minot Airman wins with devastating knee to head

Ryan Stiles was in the cage as a professional once before Saturday’s Magic City Mayhem 3 mixed martial arts show at Maysa Arena.

Stiles remembered the adrenaline rush of his first fight and wasn’t fazed by Jarred Melicher’s early takedown and top-position control for much of the first round.

Stiles, 24, avoided any serious damage and constantly moved on his back, looking for submission openings in the 135-pound fight. The patience paid off as the Minot Airman made good use of his standup game at the start of round two, knocking Melicher, of Grand Forks, out with a knee to the face 50 seconds into the round.

“After he got the takedown, I started instantly realizing he’s got some good ground skills,” Stiles said. “He wasn’t threatening too much with punches. I was able to compose myself, but he had outstanding pressure and he knew what he was doing.”

So did Stiles. He pushed Melicher, 27, against the cage and grasped the neck just long enough to gain enough control and explode upward with the right knee.

“The name of the game is mixed martial arts so you have to be ready for everything,” Stiles said. “I was able to get him up against the cage, landed a devastating knee, was able to get the knockout, but at the end of the day you always wish for fighter safety. So even though I got the knockout and (I’m) happy, I’m glad he’s all right and he’s safe.”

Melicher did well to avoid the submissions earlier in the fight, but didn’t look as comfortable against the cage.

“I took into account it was his debut and knowing the adrenaline rush, you can get tired pretty fast out there,” Stiles said. “I wasn’t trying to explode too much. I was just trying to keep him busy, so he wasn’t teeing off on punches.”

Stiles, originally from Wisconsin, is eager to fight again, but will first return to his home state first for an upcoming Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu seminar from eighth-degree black belt Pedro Sauer.

Ashleigh Heustis picked up the first win for Minoters in the evening’s third fight. The Devils Lake native went straight for Belcourt’s Harleigh Davis, throwing lefts and rights until she scored a takedown about one minute into the opening round.

Heustis (1-0) won at 1 minute, 32 seconds by TKO with strikes from the top position in the 135-pound match.

“It went exactly how I wanted it to go,” Heustis said. “Everything went perfect. Basically, I just wanted to hit a 1-2 to get the takedown and take full mount on her just like I did. It was perfect. I was very happy with the way I performed.”

Minot Airman Stephen Berg, 27, had a slight advantage after a back-and-forth first round with Williston native Adam Walkemeyer at 170 pounds. Walkemeyer, 30, connected on a right to Berg’s left eye after the break and finished the fight soon after with a rear-naked choke at 2:28 of the second round.

Both fighters scored takedowns in the first round and looked for guillotine chokes and Berg landed a few solid body shots.

“I felt great the first round. I felt like I was in control,” Berg said. “I came out the second round and I think it was just that adrenaline dump. I got a little tired. I wasn’t moving as quick and when it hit the ground he started sinking in that choke and I couldn’t hold the defense long enough.”

Berg will be stationed in the Netherlands soon and said he plans to keep pursuing the sport and focus on kickboxing and muay thai – both popular disciplines among the Dutch.

Bismarck’s Todd Hoff delivered a rousing moment to follow the climactic Stiles win. Hoff winced repeatedly after taking leg kicks from Minot’s Howard Lamere in a 185-pound fight. Then he delivered a crushing right hand to immediately knock out Lamere.

Minot Airman Cathleen Biala’s fight was called a no-contest in the second round as she and Belcourt’s Mary Charbonneau failed to engage after a tiring and entertaining back-and-forth in the first round.

The result of Jessica Doerner’s headlining fight was not available at press time.

Tim Chapman covers Minot High School athletics. Follow him on Twitter @chapmatp.