Caption: Erion Zekthi weighs in ahead of a Shamrock FC bout. Featured Image credit: Jimmy Range Photography; Courtesy of Shamrock FC.
Erion Zekthi (6-1) and Austin Bashi (5-0) are set to compete for the Shamrock FC bantamweight title at Shamrock FC 337 on April 9 in St. Louis.
Zekthi, 29, is nine years the elder of Bashi. “The Albanian One” believes the 20-year-old will be a “beast” in time, but he feels he has the experience edge against Bashi. He added that he has the strength of schedule advantage, as well.
“He may be a 5-0 pro, but he hasn’t fought anyone with a f—ing winning record,” Zekthi told MMASucka. “He’s 5-0 against 1-1, 0-0. His last fight, to get to 5-0, was against a guy who was 1-1. None of these guys have winning records. They’re only .500 or sub-.500, and I’m supposed to take this kid seriously?
“I am going to take him seriously,” Zekthi continued. “I think as an opponent, he’s in shape and he’s athletic, but I think he’s green. I don’t think he’s been in a fight yet. A fight with someone who is genuinely trying to hurt him, trying to make him taste his own blood, trying to cut him, trying to beat him. He has fights with guys who he could just take down and smother. Even some of them, he couldn’t even finish.”
Zekthi said he is a “huge” step up for Bashi and said their clash will go one of two ways:
“Either I’m wrong, and the hype is real, and this kid is a prodigy. Or I’m right, and everyone in his corner, from his coaches to his trainers, they f—ed up,” Zekthi said. “They need to pump the brakes on this kid because he is too young to be taking this fight. They f—ed up. I am unlike anybody he has fought by a country mile.”
Zekthi says he was once Bashi’s age, but tough fights throughout his amateur and professional career humbled him a little. Zekthi has only tasted defeat once – a controversial split decision loss to Demetrius Wilson in his second pro fight – but to this day, he considers his amateur bout with Cortavious Romious one of the stiffest tests of his MMA journey.
Zekthi noted he is one judge’s scorecard away from being undefeated for 11 years and feels he deserves the same amount of attention as Bashi.
“Because I have, what, one split decision loss? Suddenly, this kid is close to me? I’m insulted that they would accept the fight. I’m insulted that this kid thinks he could beat me. I’m insulted. It’s not his fault. It’s his corner, it’s his coaches, it’s everybody around him who propped him up. How the f— are you 20 years old and a brown belt? Explain that to me. You can’t even get a blue belt until you’re 18. None of this kid’s story makes sense to me. Either he is the hottest sh–, and I’m wrong, or this is a serious case of overhype.”
Zekthi has since picked up wins over the likes of Trevor Ward, Scott Ettling, and Horacio Escobar. He doesn’t believe Bashi’s current resume stacks up to his.
“If any of the fights Bashi has had, if he would constitute as ‘tough’ fights, I’m going to run through this kid,” Zekthi said. “Because he has fought nobody; tomato cans. If any of those fights, to him, in his heart of hearts, he thought was hard or pushed him, then he is f—ed when it comes to me.”
Erion Zekthi Makes his Prediction
Zekthi feels he will have a sense of Bashi’s power and strength within the first minute of the five-round fight, and thus, how the bout will go.
“But make no mistake: I’m winning, and it’s not going the distance,” Zekthi said.
He outlined a few potential finishes he sees him scoring against Bashi, but he believes the end of the fight will stem from mistakes made by Bashi.
“I could see me knocking him out coming in for a takedown. I could see me submitting him, because he’s too aggressive. I could see me beating him up, tiring him out, and breaking him. He doesn’t know what those deep waters look like, but he’s going to find out.
“On paper, we are identical, only I’ve actually fought tough f—ing fights,” Zekthi continued. “Only one of us has the right to be confident, and the other one’s just ego. He’s a young man. I don’t wish him ill will. I just don’t think he knows what the f— he’s doing. Come April 9, class will be in session. I’m taking that kid to school.”
What’s on the Line for Erion Zekthi and Austin Bashi?
Zekthi has fought his entire professional MMA career under the Shamrock FC banner, while Bashi will be making his debut for the promotion.
The promotion’s CEO, Jesse Finney, said the winner of the title fight should get a contract with UFC or Bellator.
“After this win, I finally want the respect that I’ve earned, and I want to be signed to one of the two big promotions,” he said. “Either the UFC or Bellator. That’s where I’m going to be by the end of this year, without a doubt. I know it. I am one fight away … This is my last local fight without question.”
Shamrock FC 337 is set to go down from the River City Casino in St. Louis on Saturday, April 9. The event will be live-streamed on FITE TV for $30. Erion Zekthi and Austin Bashi will throw down for Shamrock FC bantamweight gold in the main event.