Shamrock FC will join very rare company on Dec. 1 when the promotion will host its 300th show.
To the promotion’s CEO, Jesse Finney, the feat signifies Shamrock FC’s arrival as one of the top-5 promotions in the United States.
“We started from the bottom,” Finney told MMASucka of his venture, which began in 1998. “Here we are doing 300 events. I want to do 600 events. I’m just lucky to be in this business. It’s been an amazing ride and I feel like this ride is only beginning.”
The ride will continue on Friday night with what Finney called a “very exciting” card match-wise and stylistically.
The Main Event
Garrett Gross (10-6) and Garrett Mueller (4-3) square off in the main event at lightweight. Gross has won three in a row, with most of his wins coming via knockout. Meanwhile, half of Mueller’s wins have come by submission. Finney said the match-up is a classic striker vs. grappler affair.
“Both these guys lay it all out there in the cage,” he said. “100 percent. They will both go out on their shields.”
In terms of title implications, Finney said that Gross “has got to be getting up there.”
If Gross finishes Mueller in impressive fashion, he may be looking at a shot at the vacant title. If not, he’d certainly have to be one or two wins away. And with Shamrock FC’s agreement with Bellator, a crack at the title is everything.
The Co-Main Event
The co-main event also features a lightweight fight; highly-touted prospect Rashard Lovelace (4-1) fights Luke Nelson (2-2).
Finney said he spoke with both fighters, and said they promised it would be a stand-and-bang affair.
Here’s where title implications at lightweight get interesting. Gross is in the running, but Finney pointed out Lovelace holds a knockout victory over him. Lovelace is coming off a decision loss to fellow prospect Sean Woodson.
“I know Lovelace wants that Woodson rematch bad sometime in the near future,” Finney said. “It was one of those fights Lovelace was not training properly, because he was hurt. If Lovelace comes out and wins, you’re looking at a rematch between him and Woodson.”
Finney said that if Lovelace and Woodson look “great” in their next fights, the two will most likely meet in 2018 for the vacant lightweight title.
Two Bantamweight Bouts
The next two fights down the card are both at 135 lbs. Scott Ettling (4-2) will look to get back in the win column against veteran Yohance Flager (9-7).
Finney said he likes to square off up-and-comers against veterans. Ettling and Flager represent that match-up, respectively.
All four of Ettling’s professional wins have come via submission. Flager has lived and died by the submission; seven of his nine victories come via him tapping his opponent out, while he’s lost by the method in five of his seven defeats. That almost guarantees that grappling fans will love this fight if it hits the ground.
Before that fight, Erion Zekthi (2-1) fights Jordan Collins (1-0). The two fought as amateurs, with Zekthi winning via submission. In terms of pre-fight vitriol, this is one to look out for.
In two of his three professional bouts, Zekthi has gone to split decisions, winning one and losing one. He’s looking to get back to his finishing ways, something that Finney is keeping a close eye on.
“Erion is one of our top prospects,” Finney said. “I love him inside and outside of the cage. But I had the conversation with him to tell him that he has to be more exciting.”
Collins impressed Finney in his pro debut, defeating Dillon Tolbert by knockout. A rematch with Zekthi was on Collins’ wishlist.
“He gave us a list of people he wanted to fight, and Erion was one of them,” Finney said.
Bantamweight Title Implications
In the crowded bantamweight decision, Finney said the next crack at the vacant belt will come down to whoever wins in exciting fashion.
“We’re not going to give someone who goes out there and lays on someone the title shot,” Finney said. “When you move on, that’s a reflection upon us to Bellator or the UFC. After the fights, we’ll sit back and look at it.”
Finney said that both Zekthi and Ettling are in the conversation for a potential title shot if either go on an impressive winning streak. Zekthi took a split decision over Ettling in each of the two’s most recent bouts.
Demetrius Wilson, who holds a split decision over Zekthi, is also in the title conversation. Finney said a rematch between him and Zekthi down the line is “a fight we have to make in the future.”
Rest of the Main Card
Two veterans face off at welterweight in Adam Cella (6-8) and Eddie Larrea (22-43).
Cella is a UFC veteran and was featured on Season 17 of The Ultimate Fighter. After starting off his pro career at 4-0, Cella has lost six in a row.
Larrea, the most experienced fighter on the Shamrock FC 300 card, has been fighting professionally since 2008 and has 65 bouts to his record. The Bellator veteran is making his second Shamrock FC appearance, and is mired in a seven-fight losing streak.
The main card kicks off with Joe Mueller (0-0) vs. Matt Murphy (6-8) at featherweight. Mueller’s professional debut is what jumps off the page here.
Finney described Mueller as a “world class Muay Thai fighter.”
“Murphy has begged for this fight since Mueller was saying he’d go over to MMA,” Finney said.
Fans will see just how good Mueller is when he takes on the 14-fight veteran in Murphy.
Prelim Fighters to Watch
Colin Parr (8-2) has the most impressive amateur record on the card. He fights Miguel Lisboa (3-2) at lightweight.
Devin Anderson (9-3) rides a seven-fight amateur win-streak into his lightweight contest with Edrick Dillard.
Tim Jackson (3-0) brings an undefeated amateur record into his bantamweight tilt against Vincent Hutchens Jr. (4-3).
Tyler Albert (6-2), an amateur, makes his Shamrock FC debut against Mark Chappell (2-1) at featherweight.
Garrett Gross vs. Garrett Mueller
Rashard Lovelace vs. Luke Nelson
Scott Ettling vs. Yohance Flager
Erion Zekthi vs. Jordan Collins
Adam Cella vs. Eddie Larrea
Joe Mueller vs. Matt Murphy
Colin Parr vs. Miguel Lisboa
Justin Angel vs. Mark Kirkland
Jeff Glover vs. Chuckie Brooks
Edrick Dillard vs. Devin Anderson
Jason Gavril vs. Kirk Vessell
Vince Hutchens vs. Tim Jackson
Shaun Briggs vs. Derrick Davis
Tyler Albert vs. Mark Chappal
Elijah Brockman vs. Dylan Hatley