Photo credit: Jimmy Range Photography
With the calendar set to flip to 2022, Missouri-based Shamrock FC is set to shift to the new year. For CEO Jesse Finney, the plan is for Shamrock FC to keep doing what it’s doing, but a bit better each time.
Finney said the promotion sold out five of the six shows it held in 2021, which saw plenty of obstacles brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. This upcoming year, Finney expects Shamrock FC to hold 10 events. The number is down from the 13 shows the promotion was doing pre-pandemic, but Finney left the door open for a couple of extra events to be added.
Finney shared some of the promotion’s goals for 2022 and beyond:
“Keep upping the production and keep upping the experience for the fighters and fans,” he told MMASucka. “Keep producing great fights and entertainment value. Look to expand our brand. We’re looking to get into another market as well.”
The promotion currently hosts shows in St. Louis, St. Charles, and Kansas City, Missouri.
Shamrock FC’s 2022 is set to start with Shamrock FC 335 on Jan. 22 at the Ameristar Casino in St. Charles.
Garrett Armfield (7-2) is set to meet Zac Riley at the event. Armfield, a bantamweight, is coming off a win over Mark “Sharky” Slyter and is the winner of five of his last six. Finney said he is looking at the idea of a title fight between Armfield and Erion Zekthi, a 6-1 prospect, somewhere down the road.
“I don’t see how you cannot get Erion Zekthi for a title, possibly against Garret Armfield, is the way we look at it,” Finney said. “That’s a fight we’d like to make in the very near future. Erion has been a guy who has literally been with us for a couple of years, but he’s also the guy who has literally said ‘no’ to not one fight. He’s never said ‘no.’ When you say ‘anyplace, anywhere, anytime,’ that is 110 percent Erion Zekthi.”
Finney said the promotion has “something set up” for Zekthi in April, but plans could change if Armfield wins and wants to fight Zekthi for the title.
Evan Elder, a 7-0 lightweight, is another fighter who Finney said is in line for a title shot. The CEO said Elder is taking a brief break after three fights in less than six months, but added that Elder is ready for a crack at Shamrock FC gold.
“There’s no question about it,” Finney said. “I think his next fight with us, if he decides, will be for a title shot. That’s up to Evan and his team at this point. We’d like to see something in April. If not, May or July.”
Shamrock FC fighters who capture a belt are able to go to Bellator should they want to thanks to an agreement between the two promotions. Finney said the UFC is also an option, but it’s not the same guarantee as Bellator is.
Finney said Shamrock FC has never had more success in producing top prospects than now.
“It’s also the quality of guys,” Finney said of his roster. “We’ve been doing this for 335 events. We don’t hand out titles and give title shots because guys are winning. We want quality wins and quality guys. We see what goes on. We take a lot of pride. If you earn a Shamrock FC title, it means a lot. Obviously, our relationship with Bellator as well; we’re going to make sure you’re ready for them. It’s probably the most talent we’ve ever had overall. I think this is great. Hopefully, in 2022, we’re going to put some titles on the line and we’re going to run with it.”
Finney said he plans that Shamrock FC events will run smoothly and on a regular schedule in 2022 barring state and local restrictions that could be caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Should fans want to attend events, where masks are optional, they should have the right to make that decision, Finney said.
“I absolutely 100 percent think that people need to learn and understand that the coronavirus is real,” he said. “First and foremost, we will be safety-first with the fans, the fighters, and everybody. You’ve gotta learn to live with it. If you decide you don’t want to live with it and you decide you want to stay home and watch it on ShamrockFC.com, you’re welcome to do that. If you don’t want to come to the events, don’t come to the events. If you do want to come to the events, [fans] should have every right to come to the events. I am very hardcore about that.
“If I personally think it’s out of control, and if my partners at the casino think it’s out of control, that’s one thing. You can’t sit here and have state and local officials telling us what to do. We have risks in this as well. Why would we go risk people’s lives if we did not think it was the correct thing to do? If they want to come, let them come.”