Minnesota MMA Events: Driller Promotions heavyweight champion Brian Heden (30-16) of Frazee, MN is set to defend his title this Saturday night at No Mercy 8 against Bellator veteran Kevin “Concrete” Asplund (17-11) of Minneapolis, MN at the Shooting Star Casino in Mahnomen, MN. Fans are expected to pack the Casino once again as all cage side seats and tables were snatched up back in mid-April. Only a handful of general admission tickets still remain.
In another featured fight, Dustin Klappernick (4-1) will be taking on Casey Goulet (4-0) of Brooks, Minnesota in a match to determine Driller’s number 1 lightweight contender. Also, in a local legends grudge match, Ben “The Real One” Wicks battles Butch “MAD DOG” Hajicek. Bad blood looms between the two veterans and the fists will finally fly on Saturday. Top Prospects Noah Landrus (3-0) from Aitkin, MN, Jesse Wannemacher (3-2) of Fergus Falls and Jeremiah Harper (1-0) from New York Mills also see action.
Brian Heden admits that he doesn’t appear to be the meanest guy on the block, but he has proven time and time again that he is one of the last men you want to take a punch from in the cage. Heden got his combat career started back in the mid-2000’s. He says that he never even had a fight during his school days but decided to enter a local Tuff-Guy competition which featured people with no fight background boxing with headgear.
“One of my friends dared me to do it, so I did” said Heden. “I ended up winning the tournament and really enjoying it, so I just kept going. At the time of that fight, I was 347 pounds. I knew if I wanted to do this professionally I needed to get down to 265, so that’s what I did. I changed my eating and started working out after work. My boss would drop me off a few miles from the hotel we were staying at and I would run back. Eventually I would lose 100 pounds and walk around at 247, but felt a little small for a heavyweight. So now I weigh in at 265.”
“Brian was made to fight” said former pro boxer and Tuff-Guy tournament founder John Hoffman. “I don’t think he lost any fights in any of the Tuff-Guy tournaments. He was a natural and I always remember him having so much fun while all of the other fighters were full of anxiety, Brian was laughing and enjoying every minute of it. I tried very hard to make him a pro boxer, but his love is MMA. I’m very proud of his accomplishments.”
The 33-year old Frazee heavyweight has traveled the world to mix it up with many top level fighters. But it was his 2012 knockout victory over Sean McCorkle in El Paso, Texas that Heden counts as his most memorable bout to date. Heden knocked out McCorkle at 2:44 of the second round.
“It was a lot of fun to go down a month before to do all the filming and be with the military guys. It was for the Wounded Warriors Foundation. This was also one of the fights where literally everyone counted me out. You look at 6’7″ Sean, ‘Big Sexy’ he calls himself and then look at me at 5’11”. There’s a difference. But after being counted out for your entire life because of the way you look, you start to use it as motivation. Not many people can say they lost 100 pounds so they could become a fighter. I did and unfortunately I get judged a lot because of how I look and not for how I fight. I loved being able to stop him in the second round and show them that anything is possible.”
Heden got his first crack at the Driller heavyweight title when he met Minnesota MMA pioneer Travis Wiuff at no Mercy 11 in 2014. The first round stoppage loss didn’t sit well with Heden and he turned the tables on Wiuff two years late in a rematch for the title.
“I felt like the first fight should have never been stopped. I wasnt hurt, I wasnt out. Everyone knew it, Wuiff even said in the interview after the fight that we needed a rematch. I love fighting in my hometown and in front my family, friends, sponsors, and fans. It makes for a great atmosphere. The last thing I was going do to was let the same thing happen again. I made sure the rematch fight ended how I wanted it to this time, a knock out in 33 seconds.”
Like Heden, Kevin Asplund has a vast amount of experience while traveling all over to compete in big fights throughout his career. A Bellator veteran, Asplund was a winner of 15 straight fights from 2003 to 2011. Surprisingly, the Midwest fight veterans have never crossed paths until now.
“I had been offered a fight against him quite a few years ago, but I was just coming off nose surgery and wasn’t able to take it” Heden told MN Fight News. “He is a big slugger who just keeps coming forward. He can give damage, but he can also take damage. You have to be careful with a guy like him. He’s someone you don’t really want to stand in the pocket with and slug it out. He’s someone who could put you out just as fast as you could put him out. I expect a fight that will not go past the first two and a half minutes in the first round. One of us is going to be put to sleep while the other holds a nice shiny belt around their waist. After a year break, I’m really excited to be fighting at home and not across the country or out of it.”
Kevin Asplund (18-11) vs Brian Heden (30-16)Heavyweight 275 +# 5 Round TItle Fight
Ben Wicks (4-15) vs Butch Hajicek (16-16) 205 *
Eric Kemper (2-3) vs Jesse Wannemacher (3-2) 135 *
Scott Writz (0-0) Rising Son MMA vs Starr Roberts (3-15) 170 *
Dustin Klapperick (4-1) 7th Street MMA vs Casey Goulet (4-0 )NorthBred MMA, Oklee, MN 155 #1 Contender Bout,
Arkady Pichurin (2-1) vs Noah Landrus (3-0) 170 *
Nick Joramo (2-3) Sioux Man Gym vs James Norris (0-1) 280 #
Kyle Zimick (2-0) Rising Son MMA vs Andrew Yatskis (1-1) 155 Independent 155 *
Jared Goodvoice (0-0) vs Andrew Case-Allen (1-0) Super Heavyweight
Doors open at 5 p.m. and fights start at 5:30 p.m.
Tickets start at $35 and are available at www.starcasino.com.