History of MMA in United States: Missouri

Missouri MMA
UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley attends the UFC 209 press event at T-Mobile arena on March 4, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

This is the 25th of a 50-part series documenting the history and the current state of MMA for each of the 50 states in the United States of America. You can find the rest of the series to date here. Each part will chronicle the history of MMA as well as several notable fighters and camps in each state. This is the history of Missouri MMA. Be sure to check out the previous part on Mississippi.

History of Missouri MMA

Missouri, the 24th state to join the Union, is the home to many talented young fighters as well as the UFC welterweight champion, Tyron Woodley. The state has also been in the news for adopting a major change to their amateur structure. Shamrock FC also calls the state home.

Missouri Office of Athletics

MMA in the state is overseen by the Office of Athletics which falls under the Division of Insurance, Financial Institutions and Professional Registration. Missouri does not have a commission “per se” similar to other states. In 2007 the governor ordered the Office of Athletics has the authority to make rules which are necessary for the enforcement and administration per Chapter 317, RSMo, pursuant 317.006.01(1). RSMo.

Recent Legislative Change

In May 2018 a measure was passed which would no longer allow fighters under the age of 18 to compete in sanctioned bouts. The measure passed through the House 112-29 and through the Senate 32-1. Mike Parson, Governor of Missouri, signed the bill on June 29, 2018. The state has been trying for years to develop tougher, stricter, safety regulations. Legislators in the state consider this a victory and a step in the right direction.

Major Organizations Make Their Visits to The Show-Me State

The UFC has only made one visit to “The Show-Me State” while Bellator has hosted eight events within the state’s borders. The defunct Strikeforce organization held three events within the state of Missouri.

The UFC’s Lone Visit

The UFC’s only visit to Missouri came in earlier this early in January 2018, nearly 25 years after the creation of the UFC. UFC Fight Night: Stephens vs. Choi took place in the Scottrade Center in St. Louis. The 10,000 plus in attendance observed a dynamic featherweight main event showcasing the knockout power of Jeremey Stephens as he knocked out the “Korean Superboy” Doo Ho Choi. Stephens and Choi took home Fight of the Night honors while Darren Elkins and Polo Reyes took home Performance of the Night awards.

Bellator Makes Their Many Visits

Bellator’s first of eight visits came with Bellator 16, about eight years before the UFC came to town. The event was held at the Kansas City Power & Light District in April 2010. The 2,000 plus in the arena witnessed future champion, Alexander Shlemenko win by unanimous decision over Matt Major. Jared Hess defeated Ryan McGivern by second-round guillotine choke in the night’s main event.

The organization’s most recent, and eighth visit, came to St. Charles in April 2018 with Bellator 197: Chandler vs. Girtz. The stacked card featured 12 fights headlined by Michael Chandler winning by first-round arm triangle against replacement fighter Brandon Girtz. Brent Primus was unable to compete so Girtz stepped in on late notice. The card also featured wins by A.J McKee, Logan Storley, and Kevin Ferguson Jr.

Fighters and Camps In/From Missouri

Arguably the state’s biggest and most popular organization, Shamrock FC, has displayed many of the area’s best talent. One of those is American Top Team product Johnny Eblen. The University of Missouri wrestling alum is currently 3-0 with all victories in first round. Eblen also spends time in Kansas City for training and previously told MMASucka, “Also I have to give Glory MMA a shout out because that’s my gym when I come home to Kansas City. Coaches LC Davis and James Krause played a big part in where I’m at today in MMA!”

“I think the fan base in Missouri is great. It is similar to the fan base I have seen down in Florida,” Eblen told MMASucka. Eblen feels the growth of MMA in Missouri has been trending in the right direction. “It’s awesome to watch the growth of MMA. I think the event has become more professional. Shamrock FC puts on some legit shows down in MO!”

The Young LFA Star Representing Missouri

LFA is another hot organization displaying the country’s top young talent. Another of those representing Missouri is 24-year-old lightweight Dakota Bush. Bush is 4-1 in his young pro career with every single one of his professional and amateur bouts being fought within Missouri except one. “We have a good following here and a bunch of loyal fans,” Bush told MMASucka. “If there’s a big venue here, we can fill it. Watching MMA grow in our area has been great. We have had LFA here four or five times now, Bellator a couple times, and the UFC made its first trip this past January. Not only do I get to see MMA grow in our community, I get to see a lot of local fighters blossom with their opportunities.”

UFC’s “Chosen One”

The UFC’s currently welterweight champion, Tyron Woodley, calls St. Louis home. Woodley trains at ATT-Evolution, which is located in Brentwood, MO. Woodley captured the welterweight title knocking out Robbie Lawler at UFC 201. He has defended the title three times and has a huge matchup coming up with contender Darren Till in September 2018 for UFC 228. Woodley uses his University of Missouri experience to control his opponents and have helped him earn many of his 18 professional fights.

Part 26 will be the state of Montana. Still tuned to MMASucka for the rest of the series as we keep moving toward number 50. 

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