As a 3-year old, Brody Wigren threw a punch at the boxing pads his father held.
“Move your head, move your head,” Wigren’s father, Ted yelled as Wigren continued to hit the pads.
After sparring with his older brother, Connor, Wigren’s father taught him how to wrestle and then introduced weight lifting.
Wigren’s interest peaked with wrestling, and he started organized wrestling in the second grade. While he enjoyed it, he entered his freshman year at Geneva High School burnt out on the sport. Wigren’s interest shifted to weight lifting and bodybuilding. He did not wrestle his first two years of high school, instead spending the time sculpting his frame for bodybuilding.
The months leading up to his junior year wrestling season, one conversation shifted Wigren’s focus.
During a lunch period that fall, Wigren approached his good friend and former wrestling partner, Hayden Long, who sported a cast on his arm from an injury he sustained playing football.
“Dude, if you get that cast off it, would make both our parents so happy if you wrestle this upcoming season, I’ll wrestle too,” Wigren said.
Long, whose focus had previously been on football, agreed.
A few weeks following their conversation, Long passed away. Through his grief, Wigren felt he still had a promise to his friend. With Long in his head, he signed up for the Eagles wrestling team.
As a junior, he earned All-Ashtabula County second-team honors and was a district qualifier.
For most of his life, Wigren knew college or trade school were not for him. After graduating high school in 2017, his focus shifted back to bodybuilding, spending three hours a day in the gym lifting.
He also ate six or seven carefully planned meals, which caused him to shoot up to 190 pounds, about a 30-pound increase from his senior year.
One day, some friends, who were professional fighters, talked to him about joining a mixed martial arts gym.
Initially, Wigren was not convinced, but after more conversations, he decided to try. He went to Revolution Fight and Fitness, an MMA gym in Euclid, with his friend and professional MMA fighter Ahmad Douglas.
After attending a few sessions, Wigren felt at home and knew he wanted to pursue MMA as a career. He switched his training regimen to prepare for fighting in the octagon.
Wigren lost about 50 pounds, cutting back to three meals per day and including more cardio and flexibility exercises in his training.
He enjoyed the physicality of MMA, something he realized he’d been missing while bodybuilding.
Over the next five months, Wigren trained in Euclid, gaining experience in a variety of MMA tactics with his coach George Comer.
In August 2020, Wigren moved to Palm Bay, Florida to train in better weather and for more opportunities after struggling to find fights in Ohio due to COVID-19 restrictions. After moving, he trained at Brazilian Top Team, a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Muay Thai gym in Melbourne, Florida. He also started working as a certified personal trainer when he was not training himself.
Shortly after arriving in Florida, Wigren’s first fight was scheduled, a lightweight bout against Dylan Aicher on Dec. 19 for Rise of a Warrior, an amatuer MMA organziation.
Before his first fight at Rise of a Warrior 28 in Fort Pierce, Florida, Wigren, now 22, thought back to his experiences as a kid ... the sparring with his older brother, the wrestling and the lifting.
He realized all of the training and effort he put in led him to this point.
With his mind at ease, realizing his purpose, Wigren entered the octagon for his fight against Aicher.
Wigren earned a technical knockout 1:50 into the first round after a quick knee and right hand dazed Aicher.
Aicher fell to the mat, and Wigren pounced. After a few more punches landed, the ref stopped the fight.
After the fight, Wigren’s coach, Josh Goodyear told him he could help shape him into a professional fighter within the next two years.
Wigren’s ultimate goal remains reaching the UFC — MMA’s highest level.
He hopes to fight at least two more times this year, which he knows will be a challenge.
He continues to use the same motivation, he’s carried with him for the past six years — Hayden Long.
“If I ever feel like quitting, if I ever feel like giving up, if I ever feel like slacking, I think of Hayden and that fires me up right away,” Wigren said.