Photo credit: Jimmy Range Photography
Erion Zekthi (6-1) and Austin Bashi (5-0) are set to compete for the Shamrock FC bantamweight title at Shamrock FC 337 on Saturday, April 9, SFC CEO Jesse Finney said.
Shamrock FC 337 Main Event: Erion Zekthi vs. Austin Bashi
Kasey Tanner (6-0) was set to fight Zekthi for the championship before he suffered an injury, according to Finney.
“I think that Austin is probably a tougher match-up overall long-term for Erion,” Finney told MMASucka.
Zekthi’s seven professional fights have all come with Shamrock FC, and Finney said Zekthi has never once said “no” to an opponent.
“‘Do you want to fight?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Well, do you want to know who you’re fighting?’ ‘I don’t care,’” Finney said. “He’s been that guy. He’s been doing that for us for four or five years now. He is literally the easiest guy in the world to work with. He literally wants to fight the best. That’s his thing. He wants to fight the best. He doesn’t want easy fights or builder fights.”
Finney argued Zekthi could still be undefeated, as Zekthi’s lone loss was a controversial split decision to Demetrius Wilson in his second professional fight in 2016.
What’s at Stake at Shamrock FC 337
Shamrock FC is stingy with the title shots it gives out, Finney said. While Bashi has never fought for the Missouri-based organization, and Tanner’s last appearance with it was as an amateur, Finney said making Zekthi vs. Bashi for the title was a combination of rewarding Zekthi for his body of work and Bashi’s success as a prospect.
Finney said the promotion tried making the Tanner fight pre-coronavirus and again recently, but the fight did not materialize. He lauded matchmaker Rob Donaker for finding Bashi to compete with Zekthi instead.
“Kudos to Rob Donaker, the matchmaker,” Finney said. “He went out and found the toughest fight for Erion and for us. We take a lot of pride in our titleholders and our champions. I think the next step for Erion is the UFC or possibly Bellator. I think he’s going to write his own ticket after this.”
Finney believes, should Bashi win, Bashi could punch his own ticket to the UFC or Bellator.
“We take a lot of pride in being a AAA organization and getting guys to the big leagues,” Finney said. “If they don’t make it, they can always come back and work with us in a good way and try to get back. If you look at our proven track record of guys who we put out there as far as champions, when you earn a Shamrock FC title, you’ve earned it. You’re not given anything, and we’ve taken a lot of pride in that for the past 24 years.”
Finney said he’s high on Zekthi and Bashi both as fighters. He has been looking to get Zekthi a Shamrock FC title fight since Zekthi knocked Justin King out in 1:08 in October.
“This is good for everybody,” Finney said. “This is the way fights should be. On paper, I think Erion is quite a bit bigger. Bashi is an explosive young kid. He comes to fight. What else can you really ask for in a main event like this?”
Finney said he is excited that Shamrock FC 337 will be held at the River City Casino in St. Louis; the first card there in more than two years. The promotion only has less than 100 tickets left, he said.
“The stage is set, and we’ve got a great main event,” Finney said.
Co-Main of Shamrock FC 337
Dustin Lampros and Ashton Caniglia, who both compete at bantamweight, are set to compete in the co-main event of Shamrock FC 337.
“It’s a real step up for Dustin, as well,” Finney said. “With Dustin coming off the Ultimate Fighter and Erion trying to make it to the UFC or Bellator, we’ve got some great fights on this card.”
Below is the full Shamrock FC 337 card:
135 pro title: Erion Zekthi vs. Austin Bashi
Dustin Lampros vs. Ashton Caniglia
Jesse Martinelli vs. Tyler Stokes
Enrique Watson vs. Brian Imes
Lex Lightharp vs. Austin Miller
Patrick Vega vs. Nicki Rivera
Jordan Coffman vs. Todd Mikel
Scott Marler vs. Elijah Neese
Patrick Gordon vs. Richard Jones
Dalton Viglasky vs. Demond Harris
Isaac Dancy vs. Kody McGehee
Devon Bobby vs. Harrison McCormick