During an interview in March with the West Fargo Pioneer, mixed martial arts fighter Dane Sayers made a bold prediction: "I 100 percent believe I will be fighting in (the Ultimate Fighting Championship) within the next five years."
After recent events, Sayers may get the opportunity sooner than expected to participate in his sports' premier league.
A 2006 graduate from West Fargo High School, Sayers was one of 28 lightweight (155-pound) MMA fighters picked to take part in "The Ultimate Fighter: Season 12," a reality television show on Spike TV where the winner is given a contract to fight professionally with the UFC.
The 22-year-old Sayers said he wasn't lying about believing he would make it to the UFC, but admitted "I didn't know how I was going to do that."
"Me being on (Ultimate Fighter) makes that statement more realistic," he said.
Though he could not elaborate on the outcome of the show, which is slated to premier Sept. 15, Sayers said it was a great experience.
"Prior to getting the opportunity of getting on the show, I was pretty much exclusively fighting locally in North Dakota," he said. "It was good for me. ... Doing well around here allowed me to be on the show."
Sayers, a.k.a. "Red Horse," has a professional record of 7-1. He was not the only area fighter to compete on the show, however.
Pablo "The Scarecrow" Garza, of Grand Forks, also earned a spot. Sayers knows the 26-year-old well because they both train at the Academy of Combat Arts in Fargo. Garza's professional MMA record is 8-0.
Another regional fighter who qualified for "Ultimate Fighter" is Michael "The Marine" Richman, a 24-year-old from Rosemount, Minn., with an 8-0 record.
The format of Ultimate Fighter is a two-team fight-off. The 28 participants are split into teams coached by a professional MMA fighter. This year's teams are headed by veterans Georges St-Pierre (Team GSP) and Josh Koscheck (Team Koscheck). Sayers could not say which team he was on.
The only details of the upcoming series can be viewed in an online video at www.ultimatefighter.com/videos/tuf-12-cast-revealed.
Until "Ultimate Fighter" is broadcast, Sayers said he is not allowed to participate in any fights, but he does plan on continuing to train. He also said that he hopes to attend a tentative viewing party at the JT Cigarro Skky Bar in Fargo, for the show's debut. The party, however, "is not set in stone," he said.
For Sayers, being on "Ultimate Fighter" was a life-changing event.
"For how much it's done for me, I'd do it again, in the end," he said. "It's the best thing that could happen for me in my career."