Isaac Payne, left, works at the Madison County Sheriff’s Office and Spencer Woodland works at the Rexburg Police Department. | Courtesy Spencer Woodland
REXBURG — A local police officer is headed to a cage to fight this weekend in front of thousands of spectators with the help of his trainer, who works for a local sheriff’s office.
The Fierce Fighting Championships XXIV, which is live mixed martial arts (MMA) fighting, is coming to Idaho Falls at the Hero Arena at the Mountain American Center on Saturday at 5 p.m.
Spencer Woodland, 24, has been a patrol officer with the Rexburg Police Department for about one year. He fights MMA on the side.
“Before you get into the cage or the ring, and the competition is setting, you always get kind of a little nervous but it’s just part of the process. I am ecstatic and I am super excited,” Woodland told EastIdahoNews.com in reference to Saturday’s competition.
Woodland is originally from Nevada. During high school, he got involved in jiu-jitsu and wrestling but said he didn’t take it too seriously.
After high school, he went to college at Brigham Young University-Idaho, then served a two-year LDS Church mission in Rwanda and Uganda. He came back to college in Rexburg around 2020, and that’s around the time he met Isaac Payne.
Payne is a sergeant and public information officer for the Madison County Sheriff’s Office. He has been in law enforcement for about 16 years. Woodland said a great part of why he got into law enforcement was because of Payne.
“He has been a good mentor and a really good friend. He has been teaching me jiu-jitsu and MMA for the past three years, and I think his demeanor and his character has rubbed off on me. It kind of inspired me to get into the law enforcement field,” Woodland said of Payne.
Spencer and Isaac at an MMA fighting event in Helena, Montana. | Courtesy photo
Payne has a business in Rexburg called PAC Jiu-Jitsu. Brazilian jiu-jitsu is a self-defense martial art.
“I have been running this business for the past seven years in Rexburg, and we have had a few fighters come through our gym. Spencer is one of our up-and-comers, so we are pretty excited to see him get out there,” Payne said.
He explained MMA fighting is the ultimate combat sport, and it’s fun to watch.
“You see wrestling, you see boxing, you see kickboxing, and there are rules…you’ll see where they’ll do armlocks and chokeholds. You’ll see knockouts. It’s probably the most exciting sport on the planet,” Payne said. “Everything in it is very fast pace. Most of the championship fights are three, five-minute rounds. It’s pretty exciting entertainment.”
Woodland will fight one person on Saturday. See the poster below with details on who he will fight.
“I am so excited because I know what he is capable of. He is a very talented guy. We like to make sure that all of our people are well-rounded. You can’t be a one trick pony in MMA. (Spencer) can kick, he can punch, he can wrestle, he can grapple, he can do it all. He’s kind of a jack of all trades, and I am excited for him to showcase that,” Payne said.
Woodland said it’s ironic that he likes the sport. Nobody likes to get punched or get into a fight; however, it has the aspect of self-development and self-growth.
“I really enjoy seeing what I have done wrong in past fights, in past competitions, and turning them into strengths,” Woodland explained.
It’s the first time Woodland will be in a large event like this one. He has been involved with several competitions that have had hundreds of spectators in Montana and Wyoming.
“We have done MMA fights, boxing fights, several jiu-jitsu competitions, and all of it is just kind of building him up to this point where we get him on a big promotion,” Payne said. “That’s how you build a fighter. You just kind of gradually build them up in different venues…it’s very much a performance-based sport.”
According to Kelsey Salsbery, a spokeswoman from the Mountain America Center, there will be 3,000 spectators on Saturday. There are still tickets available. Click here if you are interested.
“It’s an acquired taste. Some people enjoy watching, some people don’t. It’s a pretty brutal sport sometimes. To each their own…I am just super excited for this Saturday,” Woodland said.
Spencer Woodland. | Courtesy photo
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