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Shamrock FC: Showdown - Preview

By Matt Frazier | Knuckle Junkies

Not a group to rest on its laurels, Shamrock FC is back in action just 14 days after a successful, sell-out trip to KC.

Shamrock FC: Showdown slated for March 21st at the River City Casino, features one of the most underrated local pros, Jordan Howard, and the STL MMA Regional Pro of the Year, Eric Irvin. Both are in action against very tough opponents.

Currently riding a six fight win streak, Howard (7-3) has been a professional fighter for almost 5 years now, and will returning to Shamrock FC after a confidence boosting second round win over Evinger in November. The streak includes victories over Eveinger, Nick Dioneda, and Shane Shmoidie to name a few. Howard fights out of the state capital and misses out on the exposure his KC and St. Louis counterparts receive but make no mistake this 25 year old has a lot of talent, and with a handful of wins in 2015, he could be staring down a UFC contract.

Howard will be matched up against another seasoned bantamweight in Ray Grindstaff fighting out of CMMA in Pontoon Beach, IL. Grindstaff (5-3) has had a turbulent 2014 with a controversial DQ win over Yohance Flager which saw Grindstaff receive the victory after a low blow forced a stop to action, and an even more controversial loss to Jake Constant at Shamrock FC in December. The match with Constant saw a pre-fight staredown shove, and later an eye poke which seemingly played into the method of victory for Constant.

Grindstaff badly needs to win cleanly without controversy or he may scare off promoters who want to book him.

A winner of five out of his last six fights, Irvin is red hot. It was around this time last year when Irvin's teammate and training partner Alex White received the call to the UFC. White's signing has lit the fire under Irvin who is determined to join his teammate in the UFC ranks.

Irvin brings a lot of good qualities with him to the cage, he's tenacious on the ground and in the stand-up, and typically has the skills to out wrestle his opponent should he need to rely on his collegiate background.

Taking on Irvin in the co-main event is Arkansas' Josh Thorpe. Thorpe may be familiar to local fight fans from his epic three round battle with Luigi Fioravanti back in October of 2013. He started his career 12-2 and has been on a bit of a slide ever since, including his current four-fight losing streak.

Irvin should have the goods to take out Thrope, but don't discount the big man from Arkansas who's a veteran of almost 30 professional fights.

After dropping his first two as a pro, Hahn MMA's Malcolm Smith has been redhot winning four of his last five in a busy 2014 that saw him take home three victories under the Shamrock banner. Smith's only loss recently was to "The Wolfman" Javon Wright who edged out Smith in a narrow unanimous decision at Rumble Time in July. Fighting out of Festus, Smith has really improved his skillset and has become one of Shamrock FC's top contenders at featherweight, a victory over his next opponent should get him close to a title shot and a chance at a Bellator contract.

Smith's opponent for the 21st will be CJay Hunter, another fighter who has seemingly turned the ship around. After losing his pro debut in Kansas City, Hunter has won two straight and while he's primarily known for his tricky submissions, Hunter has shown he can pack a punch as evident of a 9 second KO of Demagio Smith in December and a vicious TKO over Matt Williams in September in Springfield, IL.

This featherweight match-up is very intriguing. Hunter may have a slight edge on the feet and a significant advantage on the ground, but don't count out the incredible heart and determination of Smith who much like his teammate TJ Casey has enough heart to fill up the entire River City Casino, plus it's hard to count out a fighter who has momentum on his side.

Kicking off the main card is a heavyweight battle between Nick Pohlman and "The Yeti" Steve Rustemeyer. Rustemeyer hasn't seen the cage since his pro debut when he suffered a dislocated jaw at the hands of Ray Clayton back in April of 2012. Like Rustemeyer, Pohlman also dropped his professional debut with a submission loss to Derek Bohi in January. Both of the big heavyweights will be hungry to get off the snide, and you can expect fireworks in this one.

A late addition to the card is one of St. Louis' top young prospects, Joaquin Buckley. He will be taking on Kalel Robinson who was originally scheduled to face Buckley's teammate Adam Cella.

Get tickets to the event here:

Here's how the full card breaks down:

Jordan Howard vs Ray Grindstaff
Eric Irvin vs Josh Thorpe
Malcolm smith vs CJay Hunter
Joaquin Buckley vs Kalel Robinson
Demagio Smith vs Montoyia Swilling
Nick Pohlman vs Steve Rustemeyer

Rashard Lovelace vs Zac Burcham
Jason Christeson vs Bruce Stolz
Susie Wyatt vs Lylna Thao
Derrik Cleary vs Garrett Wells
Larree Hutchison vs TBD
Cody Naucke vs Derik Scott
Auhston Dickerson vs Al Guzman

Shamrock FC: Showdown
Saturday, March 21st
River City Casino, St. Louis, MO