A 2020 Perham graduate enters MMA ring
By Barbie Porter
Editor, Frazee-Vergas Forum
When Shalie Lipp’s hand was raised in the middle of the ring, the Mixed Martial Arts champion’s medal wouldn’t stay on her for long. The 2020 Perham High School graduate removed it and handed it over to her competition.
The daughter of Rollie Lipp and Frazee High School Hall of Famer Jennie Bucholz, a 1991 FHS graduate, shared the fight was filled with highs and lows. When she stepped into the ring it was as if like a bad night’s sleep had took its toll and left her queasy and unfocused.
“After the first round my coach took me to the corner and said ‘you’re not sick,’” she recalled. “I said I was but he said, ‘No. I wasn’t, my coach snapped me out of it and convinced me it was all mind over matter.”
When the 20-year-old’s focus returned she was able to land clean strikes and with every blow her opponent faded and the win got closer. When the final bell rang, Lipp said she had controlled the fight and knew she was victorious.
“After they put the medal on me I took it off and gave it to my opponent,” Lipp said. “It was her debut fight and I wanted to give her that respect. I was proud of her and happy to share that.”
Those from the Perham area may remember Lipp’s career as a Yellowjacket to be all about track, specifically pole vaulting. While pole vaulting is a far cry from MMA, those who knew Lipp may not be surprised by her career path. Ever since she was a child, being a pro athlete has been her goal. With a insatiable hunger and drive to be the best, she set her sights on the Olympics. Upon graduating high school, Lipp landed a scholarship at Delaware State. She loved the competitiveness for her sport, but not the East Coast lifestyle. Eventually that led to a transfer to North Dakota State University. The Bison track and field team welcomed her, however, college rules required she sit out a season.
“I wanted to stay in shape and decided to try something new,” Lipp recalled. “I tried kick boxing. I remember it wasn’t long after that I started thinking about making this a career.”
Lipp said her coaches and classmates were supportive, always giving her pointers on how to improve her game and noted she had potential, but stepped back when it came to taking on the fights as a career.
“It was a big risk to leave school,” she said. “They wanted me to make that decision on my own.”
After a couple of months where she balanced school work, training and a job, it suddenly felt like she was swimming upstream. After losing a fight, the waters calmed and the answer became clear.
“I won my first fight and then lost the second,” she said. “After I lost the second fight, to me that was unacceptable and I knew right then that I would put my life and will toward being the best in this sport. Loss drives me more than winning.”
After her full focus became her new career, Lipp began training three to five hours per day at the Academy of Combat Arts in Fargo, N.D. She worked to identify her weaknesses so she could transform them to strengths.
“For me, my weakness is my mentality,” she said. “I can be really hard on myself; a little too hard. I want to keep this fun because I love doing it. So, I’m working to improve that mentality and remind myself that when I see an error, it is me recognizing an opportunity to improve. And, that is good.”
The sport of kick boxing often leads competitors to consider Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), as many of the same skills are used. Lipp explained MMA has added elements that may include wrestling or Jujutsu (close combat) skills.
“It was a gradual decision to move from kick boxing to MMA,” she said. “I still compete in kick boxing but I also wanted a career in MMA.”
Lipp has now entered a total of four fights (two kick boxing and two MMA). Her MMA debut was in Fargo, N.D. in mid-November. The fight went three rounds and came down to a judges’ decision, just like her recent fight in Omaha, Neb.
Normally, competitors have eight weeks to train for a fight, where game plans are tailored to beat their opponent. However, Lipp was hungry to get back in the ring and accepted an opportunity to fight three weeks after her debut in MMA.
She fights with the ACA Team, which has between six and 10 active fighters on its roster at a given time. Lipp is the only active female fighter. Her weight division is 125 pounds. She has competed in the 135 pound range, but prefers the lesser weight as she enjoys the fast paced footwork required.
Lipp is hoping for her third MMA fight to be scheduled for March.