Local MMA fighter hospitalized

Local MMA fighter hospitalized

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.

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  1. Lula May

    My candles are lit for Steve and thinking all the best positive thoughts for his recovery. I have worked for these fights for over ten years and we have never witnessed such a tragedy. I am very sad to see people talking so negatively. It is very unfortunate that this has happened but the fight company and the casino really had no control over the out come. It was a freak complete accident. He put his head on the wrong side of his oppents body. So when he was grabbed around the neck the landing was bad. I would also like to say that the quote “by standards” that you guys have been mentioning are not “by standards” at all. They are both EMTs that in fact help train the future EMTs of this community. If it was your family up there asking for help I am sure you would want the EMT sitting next to you to jump up and help in any way they could. Please take this time to realize how precious life really is and how quick things can change.

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