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Shamrock FC: Explosion - Notebook

By Brett Auten | Knuckle Junkies

The spoils of June are upon us.

Fight connoisseurs can feed plenty off what Shamrock FC is serving, beginning this weekend at the River City Casino.

SFC: Explosion, with its five pro fight main card and featherweight tournament on the undercard, is a hearty appetizer for the full-on, gorge-fest that will be Bellator: Dynamite 2 on June 24.

A welterweight rematch between Kyle Kurtz and Adam Cella headlines the card.

Kurtz stamped his name on the area map with a nice armbar submission of Cella at Bellator 138. Since that time both fighters have had their ups and downs. Kurtz would go on to the next St. Louis Bellator, in November of 2015, and the Jackson, Mo., product snatched up another sweet submission, this time against Steve Mann. Kurtz headlined the last time SFC was at the River City in March when he got his lights shut out late in the second round against Kevin Engel.

Kurtz recently posted an impassioned video on Facebook suggesting that he was stepping away from fighting until he can adjust his lifestyle to more consistent training. A husband and father from Jackson, MO, Kurtz works full-time as a welder, often making the four-hour drive to St. Louis just to get quality looks.

"I think that was the best (Kurtz) he ever looked," Finney said. "I think he's fought his best in his two loses. It would hate to see him go. When you start to get up to this level you are at a disadvantage if you don't have four or five guys

The 2015 calendar year wasn't an easy one for Cella (6-5) as he lost three times in 11 months, twice at Bellator and once for World Series of Fighting. The Finney's MMA product started his career a red-hot 5-1.

Main Card Round-up

With an injury to Aaron Highfill, Garrett Gross will now face Malcolm Smith. Smith always comes eager to fight, and both fighters are badly in need of a win, so this should be a good one. Smith has been seen trading rounds with Joe Worden's crew in Farmington at Destruction MMA, training with the likes of Eric Irvin and UFC featherweight Alex White.

Sensei Brad Jones' padewan apprentice, Cort Wahle, will return to face Scott Ettling (3-1) out of Hillsboro, IL in what could be position one of these fighters for a future shot at Jordan Howard's Shamrock FC title.

Despite losing his his last amateur bout, Wahle jumped to the pros and defeated upstart Garret Mueller by unanimous decision in January in his professional debut. Wahle who is known for his flashy Tae Kwon do style will have to keep an eye out for Ettling's blue collar work ethic and dangerous submissions, all three of Ettling's wins have been via submission.

"Can Ettling hold (Wahle) down for 15 minutes?" Finney said. "I'm super excited about this one. I think Cort is the most improved fighter out there. With every fight I only see him getting better."

Fifty-year-old Susie Wyatt makes her pro debut against Nikki Duncan out of Michigan. The inspirational, fan favorite "Mama Beast" has been a fixture on the amateur scene, racking up nearly 20 amateur fights.

Leading off the main card is a distinctive match-up of two very different strawweights, the 5 foot 4" Dan O'Connor will face the towering 6'2 Issac Badger in a match-up of Danny vs Goliath. The popular "Johnny Irish" will be looking for his first win since September of 2014. Prior to this fight camp O'Connor returned home making the switch back to his original fight team at Berger's MMA.

Name Change

Friday will also mark the end of the titled Shamrock FC events. Gone will be the days of Clash, Mayhem, Meltdown and the like. Frankly, coming up with another descriptive, bang-worthy title was just taking up too much space at the group's regular Monday brainstorming sessions.

Shamrock FC will do away with the titles in July Shamrock FC: 273, the total tabulated from the promotions debut in a July 11, 1998 kickboxing event.

"I don't know if we have," Finney said when asked if SFC ever doubled up on names. "I'm sure we have. It just became a struggle. You're talking about 22 shows a year now with more to come. It's just one more thing off our plate."

Tournament Time

Highlighting the undercard will be a four-man, featherweight tournament with the winner receiving a SFC pro contract.

Tournament competitor Bob Hinchcliffe had this to say: "I have practiced karate for over 16 years. I traveled all over the country and the world competing in Sport Karate tournaments and found MMA to be a new, ultimate challenge for me. Once I started transitioning into MMA I loved it."

For more thoughts and reactions, check out our full preview of the tournament which features Auhston Dickerson, Edrick Dillard, Brandon Pearson, and Bob Hinchcliffe.

Justin Lankford and Trevon Crawford will kick off the show with a featherweight tournament alternate bout.

For more information, including ticket purchase, visit

Main card:

Adam Cella vs Kyle Kurtz
Malcolm Smith vs Garett Gross
Scott Ettling vs Cort Wahle
Susie Wyatt vs Nikki Duncan
Dan O'Connor vs Issac Badger

Featherweight Tournament Final
Dillon Pousson vs Brandon Schehl
Marye Dalton vs Sheena Brandenburg
Patrick Sparks vs Derik Scott
Ian Zarvos vs David Maness
Bob Hinchcliffe Auhston Midkiff - FW Tourney
Brandon Pearson vs Edrick Dillard - FW Tourney
Justin Lankford vs Trevon Crawford

Shamrock FC: Explosion
Friday, June 3rd
River City Casino, St. Louis, MO