by: John Ferrara
Arcata musician and Humboldt State alumnus Steve Watts sustained a serious neck injury fighting in an amateur mixed martial arts tournament at Cher-Ae Heights Casino on Saturday night.
Watts attempted a takedown in the beginning of the first round, when opponent Michael Hebenstriet wrapped him in a headlock before the brawlers hit the canvas.
“He tried to slam me on my back, and I reversed him,” Hebenstriet said. “I didn’t mean to compact his neck.”
Hebenstriet delivered one final punch before realizing his opponent was unable to defend himself.
“I can’t move, I can’t move,” Watts shouted as he lay motionless from the neck down.
The fight was stopped and medical staff rushed the ring. Watts was carried away on a stretcher and did not regain feeling in his extremities before he was taken to Mad River Community Hospital.
Watts was transferred to Mercy Medical Center in Redding, Calif. and is currently in the E.R.
His condition is unknown.