At this point, it's safe to say that Dominic Heath loves competing at Memorial Coliseum.
As a senior at Churubusco in 2020, Heath claimed a semistate wrestling championship at the venue. On Saturday night at Art Of Scrap 2, in front of an announced crowd of more than 2,000, he earned a split decision over Tyler Smythe to improve to 2-0 in his mixed martial arts career.
“It means everything,” Heath said. “It was electrifying, turning around and seeing all my fans and friends and family cheering me on.”
All three judges scored the three-round bout 29-28, with Heath earning the nod on two scorecards. At the end of the first and second rounds, Heath nearly earned an armbar submission, cranking down on Smythe's elbow just seconds before the three-minute rounds concluded.
Smythe landed several knees to Heath's midsection throughout the match, but the Churubusco graduate utilized several maneuvers that turned him into a place winner at the 2020 IHSAA wrestling state finals. Heath also stood his ground when needed, unafraid to trade punches with the 24-year-old Smythe.
“I know that I can compete with anybody I step out on the mat with,” Heath said. “Even if they've been doing it twice as long as me, I know that I can finish or knock somebody out. That's a full grown-ass man and I'm 19, still growing up.
“I pride myself on being a mixed martial artist, being a well-rounded fighter. You can't just be good at one thing and try to get your way through. In this game, you have to be good at everything.”
Nick Kraus, who was defeated by Colin Huckbody in the Art Of Scrap pro middleweight title bout in the night's main event, has witnessed Heath's versatility in multiple situations. As the head wrestling coach at Garrett, Kraus guided his grapplers against the former Eagle, impressed with how quickly Heath picked up the sport.
Now with 17 professional MMA fights under his belt and a longtime trainee at Lee Brothers MMA, Kraus stands in awe of Heath's drive to excel inside the cage.
“Arguably, he's the most dedicated person at Lee Brothers the last six to seven years,” Kraus said. “When he goes to wrestling clubs or goes anywhere, he brings a notebook with him. That's an awesome thing.
“Only wrestling for three years in high school and being a state place winner is pretty unheard of. He made a name for himself and he's networked well. He's completely a dog right now. If things go right, I'd assume you'll see him on TV in the next three to four years.”
Jacob Kindig, a 2011 Concordia graduate, got a knockout win in his pro debut over Huntington's David Shoemaker. In the second period, Kindig landed several punches to Shoemaker's head that opened cuts before the referee halted the match.