PORTLAND — Gunnar Metzger is ready to launch his professional mixed martial arts career.
The Vancouver fighter showed why with a victory Saturday at Rumble at the Roseland 93.
In his first fight in three years, Metzger defeated Dylan Grell by submission late in the third round.
Metger, 21, defeated the No. 6-ranked amateur lightweight in the Northwest with a calm, tactical approach that saw him grow more comfortable as the fight progressed.
Next, Metzger will make his pro debut Sept. 30 at PrimeFighting 10, where he’ll face Isaac Shelton (2-1) at the Clark County Event Center at the Fairgrounds.
“I didn’t want to leave amateur fighting with a loss,” Metzger said. “So that really helped me to win this fight and keep myself composed.”
Metzger started fighting at 15 and compiled a 5-1 record over the next three years. He also won a state wrestling title in 2014 at Hudson’s Bay High School.
It didn’t take long for Metzger to feel comfortable after a three-year layoff.
“He hit me, I hit him and I knew right then and there that I was comfortable,” Metzger said. “I knew he wasn’t more of a threat than I was.”
Fighting an opponent who is 3 inches taller, Metzger spent much of the first round dodging Grell’s kicks.
In the second round, Metzger went on the offensive, landing some damaging punches. Despite his wrestling background, Metzger said he was more comfortable on his feet and grappling on the ground.
“I was actually more afraid of getting him on the ground because he was long,” Metzger said. “Automatically, he always went for the triangle choke and he almost got me. I was more worried when I was on the ground than at any time in the fight.”
Metzger remained in command during the third round. He ended the fight when he took Grell to the mat, got on top, landed several punches and forced a submission with an arm bar.
“I was ecstatic,” Metzger said. “It’s rare that you get to block everything out and be happy about what you’re doing in the moment. It’s like playing with a puppy dog when you’re a little kid. It’s just innocent, as innocent as fighting can be.”
Metzger’s fight was among four on the main card at Rumble at the Roseland 93. Three Vancouver-based fighters were on the 13-fight undercard.
Ross Johnsrud (Vancouver Elite Martial Arts) won his fight over Vance Barnett with a first-round submission.
CaySea McBride (KHJ Vancouver) knocked out her opponent with a right-handed punch 41 seconds into the first round.
Nathan Smith (KHJ Vancouver) went the distance against Fernando Alvarado, but lost a unanimous decision.