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Shamrock FC: 320 - Preview

By Matt Frazier | Knuckle Junkies

Shamrock FC is back this week in St. Charles after a lengthy break from the area. Missouri's busiest fight promotion is coming reloaded with a solid offering featuring the return of one of the area's most outspoken competitors, a kickboxing bout that will surely deliver, and an undercard with some serious talent on the rise.

Erion Zekthi (3-1) is a promoter's dream. His pre-fight promotional videos are often must-see garnering some of the largest view counts SFC has tallied. On Saturday he'll take on potentially his toughest opponent to date when he steps into the cage after an 18-month break to face Kansas City's Horacio Escobar (5-2).

"Getting back into fight camp was tough," Zekthi said. "There was no pick me up period. I literally came in on a sparring day and was like 'alright' and we got back into it. I've never trained when not fighting, I've always had a fight so it was very weird from January on into April. I kind of got back into the groove and was like 'ah this is what it's like to like training again.'"

After nearly seven months of consistent training, and a lengthy time off, Zethki promises a much more mature fighter will emerge on Saturday night.

"I feel like I'm maturing as a fighter," Zekthi said. "Before I felt like I had to train hard all the time. My training has matured, my recovery has matured. I turned 27 this year, and there are guys in the UFC that are champions at 26. I feel like it's time to stop kicking the can down the road. These next couple fights will prepare me for 2020, which will be my year."

In regards to Saturday's opponent, Zekthi appreciates Escobar's toughness.

"The one thing I will say about Horacio that I generally respect," Zekthi said. "There is no quit in him. I will have to show him quit. With Jordan (Collins) and (Scott) Ettling, they had ways to get out of the fight. With Horacio you're going to have to put him away, which is fine. I'm up for the occasion."

Confidence has never been an issue for Zekthi, and he only sees this fight going one way.

"With his style of fighting, with his limited skill set and his age, it's not going to be competitive," Zekthi said. "Anyone who thinks it will be competitive doesn't know MMA or doesn't know me. I can do it all. I can strike, I can wrestle, I can grapple from a defensive and an offensive position. I can kick, I can knee, I can elbow, I can do it all. What can Horacio do? Can he do all the things that I can do? No. If Horacio was like 28, then maybe I'd have a different story, but he's 37-years-old. The fact that anyone thinks this is going to be a close fight is a testament to what happens when you take time off."

If the name Shah Zolfaghari seems vaguely familiar, it's because he was one half of January's main event at Ameristar St. Charles. A half-a-round was all we got to see when the athletic pugilist KO'd veteran kickboxer Kevin Engel just two minutes into the first round of their bout. Representing Chicago Muay Thai Club, Zolfaghari will face Jermaine Andre-trained Darryl Cobb in what will surely be an exciting, fast paced bout. Cobb, while not quite as technical as Engel, is about as tough as they come, doesn't back down, and will be willing to hang in the pocket and trade with Zolfaghari, should it come to it. Get your popcorn and bathroom breaks out of the way before this one as it could steal the show.

In what could turn into a gritty ground battle, Garrett Wells (2-2) will take on Kevin Mueller (0-1) at lightweight. Mueller is a lanky, wiry kid with decent submissions from his back. Jefferson City's Wells is a winner of two in a row, capturing victory by ankle lock and rear naked choke. Whoever makes the first mistake in this evenly matched bout could be the one finding disappointment on the night.

Kicking off the professional portion of the card will be former All-Metro wrestler Kris Craig looking to stay undefeated as he takes on Jason Stevenson in a flyweight bout. Craig won his pro debut in May of last year and will have his hands full with resilient grappler Jason Stevenson, owner of one of the craziest KO's in SFC history. Stevenson, making his pro debut, was part of the "zombie KO" that lit up social media last summer. Craig has a much more developed ground game than Stevenson but often likes to keep fights standing. Craig should be considered a heavy favorite, but with Stevenson's KO ability, this one could end quickly.

With his miraculous, and emotional return in the rear-view, 4-0 amateur Dustin Ventimiglia is back to work on Saturday and will take on his toughest opponent to date when he faces Raven Ridge MMA's Jason Garvil. Ventimiglia has smashed his way to a perfect 4-0 record with only the Arvin Mills fight pushing him past the first round. Garvil will be an interesting match-up for Ventimiglia who prefers to work from his opponent's guard, something where Garvil is very comfortable. Whoever emerges victorious from this fight should be considered a top contender for an SFC title.

Another bout to watch on the all-amateur undercard is a match-up between James Bailey and standout wrestler Jesse Martinelli. Martinelli has taken to MMA like a duck to water and continues to show improvement. Working closely with Zekthi and Craig in preparation for this fight, expect that to continue. After starting out a perfect 3-0, Bailey has lost two straight and will be hungry to right the ship and sees Martinelli as the perfect opponent to do so.

SFC 320 will be broadcast live on FloCombat, subscription required.

Full card: (Subject to change)

Erion Zekthi vs Horacio Escobar
Darryl Cobb vs Shahriar Zolfaghari - Kickboxing
Garrett Wells vs Kevin Mueller
Kris Craig vs Jason Stevenson

Jason Garvil vs Dustin Ventimiglia
James Bailey vs Jesse Martinelli
Kory Beck vs Richard Jones
Adrienne Archey vs Priscilia Lay
Jackson Henson vs Korey Kitchell
Amethyst DePeter vs Phylicia Phillips
Kevin Arnold vs Toby Gvillo
Arvin Mills vs Tyler Roussin
Josh Mitchell vs Logan Miller
Nathan Murray vs Ted Clark

Shamrock FC 320
Saturday, July 13th
Ameristar Casino, St. Charles, MO

Nemesis Fighting Alliance | Sat, October 5th
Casa Loma Ballroom, St. Louis, MO

Shamrock FC: 323 | Sat, October 12th
Ameristar Casino, Kansas City, MO

Shamrock FC: 324 | Fri, November 1st
River City Casino, St. Louis, MO