Danny Black can’t remember the exact date he last fought an Iowa Challenge MMA event, but he remembers where it took place and the bloody mess he left inside the cage. He was somewhere in Mason City and secured the win with a knockout. “It was actually my first knockout,” Black recalled.
But before the Sioux City fighter could land that bout-ending hard right, Black suffered a gruesome hit one round prior to victory. He dropped his hand and got popped square in the nose. Black’s blood was thin from dehydrating himself before the fight and then quickly rehydrating himself with fluids.
When the fighter was forced onto his back, blood trickled down his throat. “I couldn’t breathe,” Black said. Both competitors rolled around on the floor for a bit until the round was over. The one-minute intermission extended to five minutes in order to clean up the cage. When the two fighters met again, Black threw a single punch that put his opponent into the fence. Six to seven hits later the referee called a knockout and Black was the victor.
Now Black has a chance to participate in another Iowa Challenge MMA event taking place Saturday (Oct. 7) at the Abu Bekr Shrine Temple in Sioux City. The 30-year-old has been competing in mixed martial arts for 12 years, getting his start signing up for bouts at Lewis Bowl before sanctions were enforced. A friend coaxed him into getting in the cage for the first time. “Really, what he wanted to do was to see me get my ass kicked,” said Black with a laugh. “It helped me release a lot of aggression.”
Having come a long way since then, Black is now front-and-center on posters for the Iowa Challenge MMA promotion, the first name at the top of the card. He’ll be competing against Matt Rider from Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Possibly the biggest challenge Black has faced preparing for the fight has been finding the time to train amidst a hectic schedule. Between taking his 8-year-old son to sports practices and working 60 hours a week, Black’s windows of opportunities are small.
“I’m not getting as much time in as I would like,” said Black. “I’m maybe getting two hours a night in. Normally I’d like to wake up for cardio and weightlifting, then go to work and then come to [DeVall MMA & BJJ]. The training camp itself started four weeks ago. I eased into it.”
Despite his full schedule, Black makes it work. Although he has no intention of getting into the Ultimate Fighting Championship, Black’s passion keeps him motivated. “It’s more or less a hobby to me,” he said. “I enjoy it and it keeps me in shape. It keeps me level. It’s my time away from working and everything.”
Black has experienced both outcomes of a fight, which helps him grow as a fighter.
“Knowing what it’s like to be submitted in front of your hometown or knocked out of whatever,” he said. “I’ve lost in front of my kid. Fortunately enough I won the first couple of fights. He understands both aspects as well.”
Now that he’s at the top of the card, is Black feeling the pressure? Not necessarily. If anything, it’s given him a better drive. Keeping a level mentality is all that’s left to conquer before his Iowa Challenge bout.
“It’s a mental game,” he said. “If they defeat you mentally, it takes you out of the game. It doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to lose, but it detours your focus.”
For Black, this is just another fight. Another way for him to live out his passion.
“I love to fight in front of my hometown,” he said. “It’s not to prove that I can do it at the age of 30. It’s just another win to add to the pile.”
SIOUX CITY’S CHALLENGE
Also scheduled to fight the Iowa Challenge Promotion is Sioux City’s John DeVall. But the challenge for this World Champion is more than just his bout with Kenny Allen -- he wants to see the local MMA scene grow.
“There’s no true support from our community and I’m trying to get that back,” said the 32-year-old. “It’s always had a bad name in Sioux City for as long as I can remember. I want it to be seen for something different, not an exploitation of people for money. I want it to be something that helps our community grow into something respectable.”
The Iowa Challenge MMA event could be the first step. Taking place in the Abu Bekr Shrine Temple, the fight includes a roster of predominantly local and Midwestern fighters. Other fighters include Solveigh Skarhus, Gustavo Garcia, Victor Sanchez, Dana Bergman, Jimmy Whitmore, Brandon Amick and Milton Starr, among others.
Nowadays, DeVall says there aren’t too many fighters in Sioux City, thinning the size of the scene. He acknowledged the scene may be evolving as well. There may have been a time when Sioux City was a boxing and MMA town but has recently become known more for Jiu Jitsu.
“We finally had our first tournament here in Sioux City and there was a big turnout for it,” said DeVall. “My students did well, other schools did well. Trying to grow the scene here will allow them to learn how to sell tickets and how to showcase themselves if they eventually want to become a professional.”
Above all, DeVall is happy to have an MMA show in Sioux City.
“We need a show in Sioux City,” he said. “It’s going to allow anybody from here to showcase their skills to their family and friend and get their name known in Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota. It gives them an opportunity.”