SFC 284: Super Powers
Were it not for getting tapped out many moons ago, Wes Powers wouldn't be the position that he is now.
Powers, a longtime Springfield, IL resident, wasn't far removed from high school - where he was a three-sport athlete – when talk at a party turned towards the Ultimate Fighting Championship and its reality show, The Ultimate Fighter. Powers soon found himself in an impromptu wrestling match and before he knew it, was surrendering due to a choke.
“I realized then that that's what I wanted to do,” Powers said.
Fast-forward some 10 years later and the 29-year-old is fighting in the main event of Saturday's Shamrock FC 284 at the Lumiere Casino where he will face Shaun Scott at a catch-weight of 180-pounds.
Powers and Scott are close in age, experience, and size as and both are tweeners, large welterweights, and undersized middleweights.
Powers got started in MMA in 2010, roughly two years before Scott.
“I was 22 and I remember being very nervous and real stiff,” Powers said of his first fight. “I wasn't doing a lot of the things I was taught but I still won by submission.”
Powers, who trains with MMA veteran Vince Eazelle at Grand Central Training Facility and recently earned a blue belt in jiu-jitsu under Mark Commean at Gracie Humaita Springfield, put together a 10-3 amateur career that saw him win both the Fight Hard MMA middleweight championship and Freedom Fight Series welterweight belt. He took his time during his amateur run, drawing it out over five years.
“I do my improvements in the gym not in the cage,” he said. “I was never one to take frequent fights. It was about staying healthy, learning new skills, and getting in better shape instead of always preparing for a fight.”
Long and lean and good on his feet, Powers' ground game is often slept on. Throughout his career, he has notched six submission victories.
“If people think (Saturday's fight) is over once it hits the ground, they're sadly mistaken,” Powers said. “I have submitted guys like (Scott) before. It's not a gimme fight for him if it gets to the ground.”
Powers kicked off his pro career with a sub victory from off his back.
It was November 11, 2015, when he got a last-minute offer to fight Chris Beal at Gladiator Challenge for Gladiator MMA at the Family Arena in St. Charles. Taking that fight, which was his pro debut, was what Powers called, “one of the craziest things I've ever done.”
Powers was taking it easy after competing in a jiu-jitsu tournament two weeks prior and a K1 bout just a week before when his phone blew up while he was lifting weights. On about eight-hours-notice, Powers took a fight against Chris Beal, a heavyweight trying to cut down to light-heavy. Beal fell woefully short and according to Powers, the bout was nearly scrapped. But the show went on and Powers slapped on a triangle at the 3:30 mark of the first round to get the victory.
“I'm just glad it didn't go any longer because I was pretty exhausted just warming up in the locker room,” Powers said. “Honestly, I took the fight because it was close to Christmas and I needed the money for presents for my family.”
Powers took another short-notice fight in April 2016 at Nebraska's Dynasty Combat Sports: Spring Brawl. There he got out-wrestled by big middleweight Brian Monaghan (who currently posts a four-fight win streak) and lost in the second round via guillotine choke.
He will be across the cage on Saturday night from another bruiser in Scott.
Scott has burst onto the scene, starting in September of 2015. Prior to that, Scott was an on-again, off again amateur with a 3-2 record. His win over Jason Christeson at Shamrock FC: Fuel launched a four-fight win streak that included winning the SFC middleweight title over Sam Tamayo, Kevin Roper (a fighter both he and Powers have wins over), and a pro debut submission victory over Kevin Brown in September 2016.
Scott is a physical specimen and both a gymnast and a brute who does his best work in the clinch and in dominant position on the floor. If Powers can sprawl and brawl and punish Scott for charging into range, then the fight will fall in his favor.
“With Shaun, it's obvious that I need to keep it standing,” Powers said. “His striking is not very technical. It's very basic and almost amateurish with not much power to his punches. I need to put my hands on him. He's going to eat punches the whole time.”
Powers and Scott are the only MMA bout on the card, which features amateur K1 and professional boxing, which means their fight will take place in a ring instead of a cage.
“I don't want to end up like Bernard Hopkins and fall out of there,” Powers joked. “I think it'll help me. He likes to press against the fence so maybe the give in the ropes will help create a little separation for me.”
Powers believes that the deeper the fight goes, the more problems Scott will have.
“When you have that much horsepower it is hard to maintain it for three rounds,” he said.
However things shake out, both will remain acquaintances.
“Shaun is a friend that I talk to a lot when I see him out at the fights,” Powers said. “We both know that this is business, not personal. We're both going to try and knock the piss out of each other. Whoever loses, buys the first beer.”
For more information, including tickets and how to watch on pay-per-view, visit shamrockfightingchampionships.com.
Photo courtesy of Sara Levin Photography