Between sparring rounds with a teammate about 75 pounds heavier, Minot's Jessica Doerner playfully squared off with an opponent more than 75 pounds lighter at a recent training session.
Doerner's 4-year-old son Kaeden tags along about six days a week to Calavera Martial Arts and Boxing on South Main Street.
"You want to fight?!" Kaeden yelled as he put up his dukes and exchanged kicks with his mom.
Minot’s Jessica Doerner practices technique with Las Vegas-based Muay Thai trainer X Phanthip at Calavera Martial Arts and Boxing on South Main Street.
Doerner, 31, entertains Kaeden, but is usually focused on the various disciplines - boxing, muay Thai and jujitsu - drilled in the basement gym.
On Saturday, she will join two other Calavera-trained mixed martial artists in Magic City Mayhem at Maysa Arena. Ten professional fights are scheduled, capped by a lightweight (155-pound) main event between - Tat "Mean Bean" Romero (Chisholm, Minn.) and Chris Lane (Ely, Iowa).
Doerner, an Air Force veteran, is 1-0 as a professional. She earned a technical knockout in the first round of a fight in February.
"I grew up a tomboy anyway, so I always kind of did what my older brother did and my dad used to box when he was younger," Doerner said.
Jordan Calavera, 26, is the primary trainer for Doerner. (Calavera's father, Richard, opened the gym in 1970.) Doerner, originally from Oklahoma, got her start in amateur boxing and has been focusing more on her ground game and leg strikes. Calavera's uncle, Airr Phanthip, runs a muay Thai gym in Las Vegas and was in Minot this week, helping prepare Minot's fighters. Muay thai is a Thai-based art combining arm, leg, elbow and knee strikes with clinching.
"My goal is just to get all the experience I can, so that someday I can help teach other people," Doerner said. "I think this sport's very beneficial, especially for women. A lot of people don't have a lot of self confidence."
Doerner's confidence has grown since her first win, a fight which started slow, according to Calavera.
"She was trying to feel it out and then I was, you know, kind of getting sick of watching where she wasn't doing anything in the fight," he said. "Finally, I just said throw a right hand and she was right by our corner and she heard me and she threw it and just drilled the girl and that was the turning point in that fight."
Doerner's opponent on Saturday is fellow 130-pound fighter Ashley Omsberg of Sidney, Mont. Omsberg is making her professional debut, but has experience in amateur MMA, which isn't sanctioned in North Dakota.
"(Doerner's) really putting it all together, the whole mixed martial arts aspect of it," Calavera said. "Her standup and groundwork is 100 percent better than what it was."
Eli Timoteo (205) and Jayson Fuentes (145) will also be fighting under Calavera, whose Golden Cage MMA promotion company is running the event.
Timoteo, 27, is 2-3 in his career. The Air Force member, originally from Hawaii, is most experienced in kickboxing. His first professional fight was in 2006 while he was stationed in Japan.
He lost his last MMA bout and will fight Dustin Downs (2-0) of Belcourt.
"For me fighting is not a business, to me fighting is fun," Timoteo said.
Fuentes (4-3) will fight Jamestown's Paul Patrick (2-5).
Doors open at 6 p.m. and fights start at 7. General admission tickets are $30 and VIP seating is $50. For more information call 701-552-3621.