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SFC: Blitzkrieg - Recap

By Brett Auten | Knuckle Junkies

Shamrock FC made its 2016 debut in St. Louis on Saturday. The main card for Blitzkrieg featured both sides of the coin. You had two wily veterans pick up key victories and two blue chips make their pro debuts in fine fashion.

In the main event, Enrique Watson seized control early against Michael Gaston and never relinquished position, pounding out a first round TKO win.

"I didn't know that he was that strong," Watson said. "Once I got him to the ground, usually with my hips, I can dominate a lot of people but I felt myself getting bench pressed out. I wanted to do kicks and combinations with my punches because I never get to showcase that but I once I get it to the ground nature takes over and I was able to apply as much damage as possible."

Watson shot in for an early takedown and Gaston sprawled. Watson eventually made his way to side control and was eyeing Gaston's arm for a submission. Watson continued to be strong on top and eventually slid to mount. Gaston battled hard to get back to his knees but Watson returned to side control, where he landed some sharp knees to the side. Watson returned to mount and began dropping down more punches. He eventually took Gaston's back, and smelling the TKO, landed heavy shots to get the stop

Watson was coming off a win at Bellator and said afterward that he felt in peak shape.

"My conditioning was up," he said. "I was doing five, five-minute rounds with 30 seconds break. I barely broke a sweat in the first (round) so if it went to the second or third I was just going to go harder and harder."

It will be a whirlwind week for Watson, who is leaving US shores for Japan next week and plans on fighting while there.

"I'm going to go back to my roots," Watsons said. "I started fighting in Japan in '04. My wife is still in active duty in the Marine Corp and she got orders for three years. I will still own my gym in St. Roberts but I left it in good hands with a couple of my jiu-jitsu instructors and a good manager. Every month or so I will be flying back to check in and make sure everything is all good and of course if I get a chance to fight on a Bellator in St. Louis, I will be coming back."

In the co-main event, 40-year-old Yohance Flager held off Fazlo Mulabitinovic to get the unanimous decision win.

The pair were exhausted after two rounds, which made for a difficult third to score. Flager went after an early guillotine in the round but it didn't take. Mulabitinovic spent the bulk of the round laying in Flager's guard. He did drag Flager to the ground near the midway point but couldn't do much with it while Flager tried to work a kimura.

In the second, Flager scored a scooping takedown and worked well from inside Mulabitinovic's guard. Once back to the feet, Mulabitinovic landed a quick knee but Flager soon went back to a more grinding style. Mulabitinovic eventually spun to Flager's back and put in a nice rear naked choke, around the one minute mark, that Flager defended well until the end of the round.

After a long feeling out process, Flager scored a takedown in the first but Mulabitinovic did a nice job of tying him up in his guard. Mulabitinovic eventually tried a heel hook, but Flager slipped out of harms way. Once back on the feet, Flager scored with another takedwon. Mulabitinovic landed a nice upkick that set off a scramble. Flager ended the round with a one arm guillotine in as the horn sounded.

Eric Crittendon had nine pro fights to his credit before meeting crackerjack light heavyweight prospect Julius Anglickas in Anglickas' pro debut. Those nine fights did little to prepare him for what was in store. Anglickas showed patience and maturity beyond his short time in this sport, scoring a TKO win in seconds.

"It was a good experience," Anglickas said. "It has been a while since I have had a MMA fight. There were a lot of mind games going on; first pro fight, a different fight camp, different training, I had to get my mind ready. I decided to keep my mind clear, set a good pace, and clam down and it just felt natural."

After a quick feeling out process, Anglickas pressured Crittendon against the fence. Anglickas then landed a heavy knee that folded Crittendon like an accordion. One heavy punch later, the fight was over.

"That was what I was drilling the whole week; jab, cross, knee. Jab, cross, knee," Anglickas said. "I didn't panic. Before, I used to see a guy hurt and I would panic and swarm with all the technique going out the window. This time everything was nice, smooth, calm and I didn't rush anything."

Flashy and fun to watch, Cort Wahle was able contrast Garrett Mueller's fight-in-a-phone-booth style and picked up his first pro victory with a unanimous decision over the Bellator vet.

"I'm stoked," Wahle said. "I had a lot of fun out there. I got to throw elbows. I got some blood on me, which was the best part by far. A lot of respect to him. I have some things I could have adjusted but I'm not going to dwell on that and just be happy. I couldn't ask for any more. Months of hard training, years of hard training for this."

The third round started where Wahle likes it with plenty of trading on the feet. Wahle landed a hard right before Mueller pressed the action against the cage. Once separated, Wahle went to the body and Mueller again tied things up. While jockeying for position on the ground, Wahle threw up an inverted triangle of sorts, trapping the head and at the same time, cranking hard on the shoulder while peppering in punches to the body here and there before the final bell sounded.

"I knew my cardio was there," Wahle said. "I have guys like Aaron Highfill and Brandon Lowe and my coaches, and they're all bigger than me and push me to no end. Coming into the fight I never had people my size to train with so he felt like I was fighting someone 80-pounds."

To start the second, Mueller shot in for a single leg and Wahle stuffed it. Wahle mixed in some short elbows and got blood to trickle some. Later on, while in Wahle's half guard, Mueller passed and got to mount. Wahle soon defended a submission attempt and eventually got to mount himself before working his way to Mueller's back at the end of the round.

Wahle started the fight with a nice spinning hook kick. Mueller recovered and pushed Wahle to the cage. Wahle landed a couple of knees before a scramble led Mueller into Wahle's guard.

On his back, Wahle was throwing up submission attempts, including an omoplata attempt that landed allowed him to sweep and land him into Mueller's guard. Once back on the feet, Wahle landed a sharp left then a spinning backfist to end the first round.

On the all amateur undercard, Dustin Fischer knocked off two years worth of dust and improved to 9-0 with a TKO over Kevin Roper. With the win, Fischer will now face Shaun Scott in March for the Shamrock FC amateur middleweight title.

In other action, Jeff Rittenhouse scored an armbar win over Jake Willyard. Jerix Archer earned a first round TKO over Kevin Mueller.

In one of the more compelling fights on the undercard, Courtney Lemons won a split decision over Marye Dalton. Lemons, 28, improved to 11-3 with the win.

"It was really tougher than I thought it was going to be," Lemons said. "In the first round I hit her and she went back so I just kept going after her. I was pretty tired but I knew I couldn't stop. I knew I had to get in there and throw some punches and kicks or things weren't going to go my way."

Tyler Madding scored a 43 second submission win over Travis Perry. Izzie Robinson won via verbal submission due to strikes over Kira Franke.

Clayton Graves won via guillotine over Nikk Willyard, Derik Scott scored a submission win over David Devers and Edrick Dillard won via unanimous decision over Rodney Cotton.

Shamrock FC returns to the Lumiere for Extreme Fight Night 6 on February 20.

Photo courtesy of Jimmy Range Photography