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Shamrock FC: 290 - Notebook

By Brett Auten | Knuckle Junkies

With a foot planted in two states, Ty Flores is ready for his return to action.

Flores (2-1) will face Aaron Highfill in the co-main event of Friday's SFC: 290 at the River City Casino.

Flores – a Jefferson County-area native who currently resides and trains in Florida – went the entire 2016 calendar with nary a fight.

“It wasn't on purpose,” he said. “I changed gyms. I had some injuries. There were fights in Florida scheduled and rescheduled and I was juggling school and work too.”

Flores was under the watch of Steve Berger while in St. Louis. Now he hangs his gym bag at MMA Masters, located in Miami. Flores loves the facility with its ample mat space and adjoining workout facility and its quality instruction and teammates

“If you work your ass off there it pays off,” he said. “There are guys who are top 10-15 in the world and there are guys who are trying to get to the same place I am always there and always putting in work.”

Flores, 23, currently works in the world of finance wrestled and played soccer at Fox High School and back then would have never have dreamed about stepping into a cage.

“I never watched MMA,” he said. “I thought it was stupid and brutal. I never watched it I knew who Brock Lesnar and Anderson Silva was but one else until I was 18.”

He took his first MMA fight in January 2013, compiled a 9-1 amateur record, threw in a couple of kickboxing bouts, and went pro in May 2015. He spent the bulk of his ammy run at welterweight before bumping up to 185.

Flores' opponent on Friday just made the switch from welterweight to middleweight this year. Highfill won his middleweight debut in April with a first-round submission of Dewayne Diggs. Friday will make for the third fight this year for the Illinois resident.

“I asked Aaron Highfill, 'How busy do you want to be?' and he said, 'As busy as you can make me,'” Shamrock FC president Jesse Finney said.

Flores, who is 6-foot-3 and walks around at over 215-pounds, will have a distinct size advantage on fight night. Highfill is known for his solid boxing and punching power but the question still remains is will that translate 15-pounds heavier.

“I have not seen who he has KO'd or beat too badly as a pro,” Flores said. “He likes to draw people into a firefight but he's a little slow, a little sloppy whereas I have gotten a lot more technical and lot more clean. He seems like an OK wrestler who likes to push against the cage. I'm confident on the ground. I saw his fight with Jake Lindsey (a unanimous decision loss in March), who was not much bigger than him, and he really struggled on the ground.”

Look for Flores to more active these coming months and a possible return to Missouri in December.

“I'll never close the door completely on St. Louis,” he said.

Contenders collide

Zac Bucia recently snagged the SFC welterweight by putting on a borderline clinic against Bobby Voelker.

Adam Meredith fought Bucia last December and in that go-around took Bucia's back early in the first round. Meredith would get careless and Bucia capitalized, reversing the advantage and finishing the fight via TKO with 23 seconds left in the first and setting up his fight with Voelker.

Some more obvious than others but lessons were learned that night for Meredith- the 2015 Regional Pro of the Year - and his team at St. Charles MMA.

“The first thing we realized was that Zac Bucia is a really good fighter,” Mike Rogers, head coach at SCMMA, said. “Adam had a lapse of concentration and Bucia took advantage of it. Coming into this fight Adam looks strong. He's not one of these guys you have to micro-manage. He knows what he needs to do.”

Meredith (5-2) is back in the main event facing Chel-Erwin Davis. Davis, who ended up in Jefferson City from New York, finished Adam Cella in 2015 by TKO and then Kevin Engel by rear naked choke in 2016, both on Bellator undercards. Davis has been in Jefferson City for three years and divides his training between Howard ATA and the Smith Pitt.

“I was looking to get a fight in December after the Engel fight before I got injured,” Davis said. “I have to be wary of everything with him. People like that are in the gym working on what they need to.”

A layoff from competition has helped Davis in the past.

“I went 19 months without a fight before Cella and I got a win,” Davis said. “I look for good names against good quality fighters and that will hopefully get my name out there.”

On the surface, the fight boils down to whether Davis, who got into the sport via kickboxing, going 10-0 and winning titles in New York, can contain the ground game and poise of Meredith, who has three of his wins come from a variety of submissions.

“Neither are flashy guys or big social media guys but both of them are two of the top competitors in the Midwest,” Finney said. “Meredith was dominating Bucia, Davis kicks like a mule and has power in both hands but can he stop the takedown? And how serious is he about the sport? Those are the questions.”

News and notes

Look for tonight's weigh-ins, which will stream live on the Shamrock FC Facebook page, to have a little more razzmatazz. Finney said that promotion is upping the ante on not only the presentation of it but also giveaways for fans in attendance. Weigh-ins will be held at 6 pm at the River City Casino.

UFC Hall of Famer and Hillsboro native Matt Hughes will be having a meet and greet of sorts prior to SFC 290. Hughes was a two-time UFC welterweight champion and defended the belt a then-record seven times. Hughes was inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame in May 2010. During his career, Hughes was regarded as the top pound-for-pound mixed martial artist in the world and considered by many as one of the greatest welterweight fighters of all time and one of the greatest pound-for-pound fighters in the sport's history. Hughes opened and owned the H.I.T. Squad in Granite City as his own training compound - with barracks and all - where the likes of former UFC welterweight champion Robbie Lawler and many others passed through.

If you haven't already, check out our interview with lightweights Rashard Lovelace and Sean Woodson before their main card clash on Friday.

Shamrock FC: 290 - Fight Card (Subject to change)

Chel Erwin-Davis vs Adam Meredeth
Aaron Highfill vs Ty Flores
Rashard Lovelace vs Sean Woodson
Garrett Gross vs Frank Sloan
Erion Zekthi vs Scott Ettling
Jason Smith vs Dan Busch

Jordan Meister vs Colin Parr
Ian Zarvos vs Chiavy Rith - Kickboxing bout
Freddy Kostjerevac vs Chuckie Brooks
Bob Hinchcliffe vs Staton ODell
Justin Angel vs Demetrius Canon
Jacob Longwell vs Jermiah Vandergraph
Vince Hutchens vs Jon Graves
Ben Wolf vs JR Roberts

Shamrock FC: 290
Friday, June 2nd
River City Casino, St. Louis, MO

Shamrock FC: 291 | Fri, July 7th
Ameristar Casino, Kansas City

Gateway FS (Boxing) | Fri, July 14th
Moolah Shrine Center, Creve Coeur, MO

Gateway Fighting Series | Fri, July 21st
Moolah Shrine Center, Creve Coeur, MO

Shamrock FC: 292 | Sat, July 29th
Lumiere Place Casino, St. Louis, MO