Former Winnebago wrestling state champion set to make MMA debut

MACHESNEY PARK, Ill. (WIFR) He went undefeated as a junior at Winnebago on his way to a state championship, now Trace Engelkes is trading the wrestling mat for the octagon.

Engelkes will make his mixed martial arts debut on Aug. 4 in Island Lake, Illinois at XFO's Outdoor War 14.

The 24-year old has trained for the last three months at Northern Illinois Combat Club in Machesney Park. He recently took some time off to help coach Team Illinois to a pair of national championships in freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling at the U.S. Marines Cadet & Junior Nationals.

He is one of a handful of wrestlers to make the move to MMA. Hononegah graduate Corey Anderson is finding success in the UFC and Stillman Valley's Tom Holder had his first fight with Bellator last year. He believes the sport of mixed martial arts is on the rise in the Stateline.

"With the transcendence of MMA internationally and on a national level, you'll those in local areas too, it just might take a little longer," said Engelkes.

"I really think we're starting to see it in the Rockford area now where MMA is getting bigger and bigger, jiu-jitsu is getting bigger and bigger. All these combat sports are really starting to flourish a little bit with the help of the UFC taking off and Bellator taking off."