Former wrestler steps off the mat and into ring

Former Dragon Cory Ulmer works to pin his opponent while competing for MSUM.

Former Dragon Cory Ulmer works to pin his opponent while competing for MSUM.

Cory Ulmer: Former MSUM exercise science student, Dragon wrestling All-American and current MSUM assistant wrestling coach.  Outside of the university however, Ulmer is known for a bit more than being a Dragon.

Since April 2012, the 24-year-old has transformed from wrestler to Mixed Martial Arts fighter. Ulmer makes his professional MMA debut in Fargo at The Hub on Saturday.

“I’ve always enjoyed watching (MMA) and knew it was something I would like to try once my wrestling career was over at MSUM,” Ulmer said.

In a sport where bloody faces and post-fight scars are the norm, MMA fighting combines boxing, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, wrestling, muay-Thai, judo, karate and kickboxing to create an ultimate style of wrestling.  The fight takes place in an octagon-shaped cage until the winner knocks out or their opponents submit. If a winner has not been decided by the end of a fight, the judges use a scorecard where they decide the winner based on aggression, cage control and landed strikes.

“If you’re a basketball player, you want to play in the NBA. If you’re a football player, you want to make it to the NFL.  That’s how it’s starting to be for wrestling and MMA.  The next step for college wrestlers is to make the Olympic team or fight in the UFC,” said the 140-pound, 5-foot 6-inch fighter.

Ultimate Fighting Championship is the largest MMA company in the world.  Host of eight weight divisions, UFC enables top-ranked fighters to compete in events in their respectable divisions worldwide.

Ulmer said he trains several times a day at the Academy of Combat Arts in Fargo, with cardio and situation-specific drills when preparing for a fight.

“This gym is also home to the toughest dude on campus. Don’t mess with Dr. Allen Carter,” said Ulmer jokingly.

One of the most decorated wrestlers in MSUM history, Ulmer never recorded a losing record in his time at MSUM, averaging 22 wins per season.  He earned two All-Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference honors during his career and was named the MSUM Male Athlete of the Year in 2011-12.

Training avidly in hopes of recording his first win as a professional fighter, Ulmer said he trains to be the best at what he does.

“I really enjoy training and competing. I want to be the best at everything I do,” Ulmer said. “There’s so much to know about MMA and self-defense; my favorite part is trying to learn it.  My goal is to master many forms of martial arts.”

Taking on 135-pound Josh Wright on Saturday, Ulmer is looking forward to his debut in front of his fans.

“I have an amazing fan following, I can’t put into words how thankful I am to have them,” Ulmer said. “They make all the hard work I put in worth it. The money isn’t bad either.”

Along with head coach Kris Nelson, Ulmer and the MSUM wrestling team make their season debut against South Dakota State University in Brookings on Nov. 3.

BY MADALYN LASKE
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