FARGO, N.D. — The debut fight card for Captains Fight Club featured three athletes with ties to the Twin Towns Area, three fighters taken to the hospital and a number of knockouts at the Avalon Events Center Friday, Nov. 19. The event provided quality combat in a region starving for mixed martial arts promotions.

Former Breckenridge-Wahpeton track and field standout and gymnast Shalie Lipp won her MMA debut by unanimous decision. All three judges scored the bout 29-28. Lipp is the daughter of area sportscaster Rollie Lipp and North Dakota State College of Science Hall of Famer Jennie Bucholz. She is the sister of Breckenridge Boys Basketball Head Coach and single-game scoring leader Stevin Lipp.

Lipp (1-0), fighting out of the Academy of Combat Arts in Fargo, faced Annabel Kelly (2-5) of Syndicate MMA in Las Vegas. The veteran Kelly ran back and forth to the cage to stare at the newcomer as she underwent her pre-fight inspection. When the cage door opened for Lipp, she circled the octagon, right past Kelly before putting her hands in the air to a big round of applause from the local audience.

The 130-pound bout began with Lipp landing a pair of solid kicks to Kelly’s midsection. Lipp’s athleticism was on display with quick footwork in the early going that kept her opponent at bay.

“It definitely helped me gauge my range and get my head in the game. I knew she was going to be coming forward a lot, kind of straight in. To keep her away I was gonna have to use some front kicks and just anything to keep her off of me and get used to the pressure right away,” Lipp said.

Lipp settled in and spent the majority of the first two rounds in the clinch, where she landed a barrage of knees and controlled Kelly’s head position like she’d been there before. When the Syndicate product pushed Lipp against the fence, the ACA prodigy was able to grab underhooks and reverse position quickly.

In the final minute of the fight, Lipp’s gas tank ran low and she left the clinch to catch her breath, opening her up to a short onslaught of power punches from Kelly. Lipp staggered backwards for a moment, but countered with a left-right combo to finish the third round.

“My cardio definitely should’ve been a lot better in the clinch. I felt a lot more comfortable striking. Once we got into those tie-ups, I felt a little weak considering she was a bit smaller than me,” Lipp said. “Her striking wasn’t as hard or strong as I thought it would be. After the first few strikes, I felt very confident I could take anything she had coming for me.”

The most insane moment of the fights came during Dylan Kiskila’s amateur debut at 145 pounds. The Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, product landed a head kick to Kai Duque’s forehead one minute into the first round, knocking him out and snapping his own ankle in the process.

Kiskila was taken to the hospital, as were two other fighters who suffered stinging blows, including former Breckenridge star wrestler Zack Schroeder. The journeyman has proven tough as nails over his 22-fight career, but fell to 9-13 after a pair of knees from Andres Murray sent him to the mat early in round one and resulted in 22 stitches above his right eye.

Jacob Thiel, Wahpeton, saw his opponent back out of their scheduled 135-pound bout. Thiel, primarily a wrestler, opted to move up to 145 and face karate and jiu-jitsu student Dalton Tommie of Watford City, North Dakota. Thiel survived a flurry of wild kicks to his body and head in the first round, taking the fight to the ground and maintaining top control for the majority of the fight. With 23 seconds left in the final round, Thiel slipped into a triangle and was forced to tap out.

“We’ll get back in the gym Sunday, learn from it and fight again in a couple months. It’s all practice until we turn pro,” Thiel said. “That guy was quite a bit taller and I went up a weight class on a week’s notice when my opponent dropped out. It was a fun fight, that’s really all that matters.”

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