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Shamrock FC: Featherweight Tourney - Preview

By Matt Frazier | Knuckle Junkies

Shamrock FC returns to its flagship venue Friday with "Explosion," the last of its kind.

The River City Casino plays hosts to the pro/am that will be the final of the named SFC events before the official switch to numbered events occurs in July.

Along with the what's become common River City main card, Shamrock is hosting a one-night tournament, hearkening back to the golden years of MMA. A four-man tournament will feature a selection of the top amateur featherweights with a SFC professional contract awarded to the winner.

Claiming the prize will be no small test as the winner will need to outlast, outwit, and survive the mental and physical roller coaster of having to fight twice in the same night. Teamed with Shamrock's "path to Bellator" this tournament could prove as a launching pad for something much greater for the eventual winner.

Tournaments are particularly exciting for fight fans, as it often comes down to a battle of attrition and which competitor will be able to get out of the first scrap with as little damage as possible only to regroup, and come back fully loaded for an encore fight.

Here's a breakdown of the competitors:

Bob Hinchcliffe (4-3)
Age 28, RVD MMA
Key Wins: Dustin Lampros, John McLaughlin

Hinchcliffe has a solid background in combat sports that saw him compete in karate tournaments around the country. With a shift to MMA four years ago, Hinchcliffe continues to improve, tightening up his ground game and drawing heavily on his striking.

"I have practiced karate for over 16 years," Hinchcliffe said. "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."

When it comes to the rigorous of a one-night tournament, Hinchcliffe has been there and done that and will have an edge over his peers when it comes to experience.

"I believe my past experience competing in karate tournaments will only give me a slight advantage in that I have had to fight multiple times back to back," Hinchcliffe said. "The difference, however, is that MMA is much more physically demanding. For this training camp, I have prepared my body to be able to last a hard six rounds if needed. I have also tried incorporating two hard sparring sessions in the same night to get used to the adrenaline dump you get after a match and then still be able to go another three rounds."

To make it into the finals Hinchcliffe will first face Hahn MMA's Auhston Dickerson.

"I have done as much research as I could find on Aushton." Hinchcliffe said. "He manages to keep most of his information off of the web. He is tall and lanky so I am expecting him to use his reach to his advantage whether it's outside the pocket or in the clinch. He is very experienced in the cage so I am expecting a war. Of the other opponents in the tournament, I have trained with Edrick (Dillard) on multiple occasions and consider him a friend so I think it would be an awesome match-up for us to meet for the title."

Auhston Dickerson (15-5)
Age 23, Hahn's MMA
Key Wins: Jake Willyard, Tyler Hubbs

Auhston Dickerson is by far the most experienced of the competition, having competed in MMA for almost five years. Originally fighting out of the Hit Squad in Granite City, Dickerson made the jump to Hahn's MMA. Much like Hinchcliffe, Dickerson has been doubling down on the training rounds.

"I'm mainly been training a ton more rounds." Dickerson said. "Bumping up the cardio, going a lot more live rounds with different types off fighters such as my teammates Evan Elder and Rashard Lovelace."

The 6-foot-2 Dickerson will be the tallest fighter in the competition and could prove to be a tricky match-up for the other featherweights and Hinchcliffe will be the first to try and solve the puzzle.

"I expect him to try and use his stand up and karate." Dickerson said. "He's long but not as long me."

Brandon Pearson (5-2)
Age 29, Academy of Courage
Key Wins: Demetrius Cannon, Keith Gorden

Originally training in the striking art of Muay Thai at Andre's Academy, Pearson followed his old coach Kain Royer to the Academy of Courage in O'Fallon, MO to begin training the various aspects of mixed martial arts.

"I ended up at AOC because of Kain Royer," Pearson said. "He was my private instructor at Jermaine Andre's for two years then he left to open up his own gym. I stayed a Andre's for a year then I called Kane and asked if I could come train there he said of course and we've been running ever since. I've trained there for two and a half years."

Earlier in the month, Pearson jumped back into action feet first after more than a year layoff due to injury and was victorious over Keith Gorden. Pearson has spent the bulk of his time upping the cardio.

"Not really doing anything different for this fight," Pearson said. "Cardio has been an issue the past couple fights after my surgery so we've been focusing a lot on that anyway but if anything has changed it's been going a couple intense sparing rounds, taking longer breaks, then getting back in for a couple more intense rounds. My goal is, and always has been, to end it quick."

Pearson is matched up against Edrick Dillard in the first round.

"We've scouted him. He likes to wrestle and pressure against the cage so we expect him to rush forward and go straight for a takedown." Pearson said. "He doesn't want any of my stand-up and if he does, it will end quicker than I expected."

Edrick Dillard (5-3)
Age 24, Finney's MMA
Key Wins: Rodney Cotton, Drew Walker

"I train hard for every fight so I didn't add much to this camp." Dillard said. "Hard work is essential every time."

Dillard is up to speed on Pearson and welcomes the challenge.

"I've seen him fight," Dillard said. "He likes to strike, so I'm ready for tough opponent "

One alternate bout has been selected between Justin Lankford and Trevon Crawford. The winner will be substituted into the tournament should one fighter win and not be able to continue to the finals due to injury.

Tickets for the event available at

Photos courtesy of Jimmy Range Photography