The story of the farm animals and the cage fighter

This wonderfully eye-catching photo led my story Friday on Minnesota’s cage-fighting scene:

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“The barn in the background of the dude with the Mohawk is art,” one editor told me.

But others were puzzled about the context. Why was this barechested cage fighter practicing his jabs in front of a children’s mural depicting farm animals?

MPR News photographer Jeffrey Thompson snapped the picture of amateur mixed martial arts fighter Matt Parker in a makeshift “locker room” before Parker’s debut. Makeshift is an understatement. Just a black curtain separated the area from the public. Hours before, kids were celebrating with a pizza party in this exact spot.

The fights were supposed to happen in Forest Lake, but a four-year-old ordinance banning such events prompted fight organizers to move the contest to nearby Wyoming, Minn. The new home? Stars and Strikes, a bowling alley and family entertainment center. That led to some interesting visual juxtapositions.

The Forest Lake City Council will consider repealing or changing its ordinance tonight, given that the Minnesota Combative Sports Commission now regulates mixed martial arts events.

You can read the full story and see the entire photo slideshow here.

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