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By Dustin Monke, Published August 28 2009

Former MSUM wrestler Tuchscherer’s career picks up in mixed martial arts

DICKINSON, N.D. – For four days, Chris Tuchscherer had a legitimate reason to question the direction his mixed martial arts career was heading.

Tuchscherer – a former Minnesota State Moorhead wrestler – had returned to his home in Fargo from his second interview for the Ultimate Fighter television program in Las Vegas feeling confident he would be offered a spot on the show and a chance to prove himself worthy of a shot at finally breaking into the Ultimate Fighting Championships (UFC) after nearly five years in the professional ranks.

Then, on the Tuesday after returning from his weekend interview in Las Vegas, Tuchscherer’s phone rang. It was a producer from the Ultimate Fighter, saying that while they liked him, they did not want to offer him a part on the show.

“I kind of hit the floor then and was like, ‘Jesus, what do I do here? Where do I go?’” Tuchscherer said. “I’ve got to keep trying.”

The 33-year-old heavyweight, who has compiled an impressive 17-1 professional MMA record, spent the ensuing days mulling the next step in his career.

Then, on a Friday, three days after receiving the call that he believed had dashed his hopes of ever reaching the biggest stage in his sport,

Tuchscherer’s phone rang again.

The news was a little better this time.

On the line was a representative from the UFC. The premiere MMA organization in the world was prepared to offer Tuchscherer a multi-fight contract, starting with a spot on the UFC 102 undercard at the Rose Garden in Portland.

“I went from down in the dumps to whoop-dee-doo,” Tuchscherer said with a roaring laugh.

Tuchscherer, a 1994 Bowman High School graduate, makes his UFC debut on Saturday night when he faces veteran heavyweight Gabriel Gonzaga.

A wrestler most of his life, Tuchscherer delved into MMA shortly after returning to college to wrestle for MSUM in his late 20s.

He quickly compiled amateur wins while biding his time and competing as a heavyweight for the Dragons.

He was the NCAA Division II national runner-up as a 29-year-old junior in 2005. He took fifth place his senior year.

To this day, Tuchscherer – a ground-and-pound style fighter – says the wrestler inside him tends to emerge in his fights despite his training in various forms of martial arts.

“Whenever you’re in a battle, you always go back to your roots,” Tuchscherer said.

The Dickinson Press and The Forum are both owned by Forum Communications Co.