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Shamrock FC: Ultimate - Notebook

By Brett Auten | Knuckle Junkies

Bobby Brents' Shamrock FC debut this summer lasted a whole 10 clicks of the clock.

This Saturday it will certainly take more time but as long as the end result is the same, that's fine with this Illinois heavyweight.

Brents returns to the River City Casino, the site of his 10-second KO of Scott Hough, as he headlines SFC: Ultimate. The stakes are much higher this time around as Brents faces Bellator vet Fred Brown for the vacant SFC Heavyweight championship.

Brents already has a long career in MMA, beginning in 2003 and racking up a 15-5 record while facing opponents such as UFC heavyweights Stipe Miocic and Jared Rosholt.

Brents, 33, moved from San Diego to Springfield, IL when he was 12. An all-state athlete in three sports, football, wrestling, and track, he delved into MMA when co-workers encouraged him to join them in some training. Before he knew it, he had his first pro fight, bypassing the amateur circuit, which was a mistake he admits. Brents lost that first fight via first round TKO and didn't return to action for three years.

"I got suckered into being a pro from the get-go," Brents said. "So I stepped away in order to train and hone my craft."

Brents bounced around gyms from Warrior Concepts, to the HIT Squad and when esteemed coach Mark Fiore moved to Springfield, Brents was there. Then there was the Kennel Fight Club and now Brents is owner of The Garage where he serves as the big bro to a stable of young fighters.

"There is no such thing as time out of the gym," Brents said. "There is no such thing as the off season and that's the way that I like it. We have a group of guys that I help and make sure they stay ready."

After that first loss, Brents came back and tallied nine-straight wins. Things see-sawed a bit before he lit Hough up like a Christmas tree in June.

"I swung and it connected," Brents said of the quick KO. "That's about it. I knew if I touched him I'd wobble him."

On the eve of arguably the biggest fight of his career, Brents knows against Brown (3-1) he just has to do what comes naturally.

"I have to fight like me," he said. "He's the one who is going to have to adjust. His inexperience will be factor. The guys that we've fought, there's no comparison. I'm not going to fight down to his level, he's going to have to raise his game up to mine."

Latchman on the scene

Kendrick Latchman is like a comet; bright, flashy, fast and destructive when it connects.

Latchman has burst onto the landscape this year, winning three fights all via KO/TKO.

Born in Chicago, Latchman, 22, came to St. Louis when he was 11 after his parents divorced and the split built a fire of rage.

"I got into a lot of fights," he said. "I was pretty angry about the divorce and it was a way to get my aggression out."

Latchman thankfully found a better outlet for that aggression in the form of soccer and wrestling. He played a year of college soccer and still plays in an indoor league .

"Other than train, soccer is all I do," Latchman said. "I don't party, don't drink, don't smoke. I stay in the best shape as possible and I'm always ready. They gym is my sanctuary."

He was still a teenager when he found MMA.

"As a kid I always watched it and admired it I just couldn't afford to train," he said.

Latchman found a home in St. Louis at Modern Combat Systems and now lives in Kansas City where he has set up camp at Welcome Mat Training Center.

"They have helped me close holes in my game," Latchman said. "They're really fast to tell me when I'm messing up. I've learned a lot."

Latchman will go for his fourth win of 2015 when he faces Trevor Ward in the co-main event of SFC: Ultimate in a flyweight bout. Ward, out of Springfield, IL, is 5-1 with two wins by submission, two by TKO, and his latest coming this summer by unanimous decision.

"He's nothing new that I haven't seen before," Latchman said "I have faced his height (6-2) on the regular. I'm sure his game is to get me down to the ground, trying to get the takedown off the clinch. I can pick up on people's bad habits and I know for sure he's not faced my speed or explosiveness."

While it's easy to get enamored with the flurry of Latchman's punches and kicks, don't sleep on his ground game.

"A lot of people forget that I am a wrestler," he said. "I just enjoy punching people in the face more. It's just more appealing to punch or kick someone in the head."

The Latchman/Ward bout is one of the top match-ups on a card that SFC President Jesse Finney said is the highlight of the 22 shows the promotion has put on this year.

"It's stacked and I'm excited to be apart of it," Latchman said. "I look forward to putting on a show. If there's anything I hate, it's being in a boring fight."

Highfill hungry for a win

Cutting weight sucks but cutting weight while the rest of your family and friends are indulging on turkey, pumpkin pie, and other holiday goodies is even worse.

Such is the case for War Room's Aaron Highfill, who has been on the shelf since April and is eager to get back on track this weekend even with a painful holiday cut.

"It sucks. It's not fun at all," Highfill said. "Everyone else is eating all they want. All kinds of good stuff and you're just sitting there drinking water not eating anything at all. I don't like fighting around the holidays but sometimes that's how it turns out. I haven't fought since April. I'm just coming back from the broken back and I just needed to get back in there."

Two weeks after that fight in April, Highfill's first pro win, a dirt bike accident sidelined him for nearly eight months.

"I had come to a stop, we were out on a field road, and another guy plowed into the back of me, smoked me in the back." Highfill said. "I ended up fracturing a vertebrae. The bone wasn't displaced or anything just fractured. I took it easy, made sure I didn't do any heavy lifting and for the first month I just laid around. I'm lucky I didn't have any problems with it but I gained a bit of weight."

When it comes to the weight cutting aspect Highfill has an ally in the use of his own personal sauna.

"My grandma had bought a sauna for her arthritis." Highfill said. "She didn't want it and never used it so I ended up taking it. I used that all the way up until my last fight when my friend Jordan Dowdy turned me onto the Dolce Diet method using a hot tub."

It was during one of those sauna weight cuts a now infamous picture of Highfill and his coach Jon Menke began to bounce around social media. In the photo, a miserable Highfill looks into the camera while his chaperon swigs from a bottle of booze.

"That was for my last amateur fight." Highfill said. "I was cutting weight in my basement. Menke came over to make sure I didn't pass out. I had a bottle of rum in the fridge and Menke decided to start chugging it. He just popped into the sauna with me and was drinking while I was cutting weight."

Highfill (1-1) faces the debuting Kevin Brown Jr at Shamrock FC: Ultimate. He was eager to shed the weight, get back into shape, and get the ball rolling again.

"It's been frustrating for sure." Highfill said. "I'm just ready to get back at it. Pretty much since I turned pro everything sucked. I came out, lost my first fight, then got a real bad staph infection. I finally got back in and got my first win, then I broke my back. It just sucks. Everyone else, all the top dudes, they're fighting on Bellator and I'm just sitting there watching. I'm ready to get back in the swing of things, stay healthy and stay active."

Ward set for relocation

In a lot of ways Trevor Ward has already won.

Ward will face Kendrick Latchman in the co-main event of SFC: Ultimate and when that's all said and done a career-defining chapter awaits him in the storied MMA city of Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Ward, 25, knew he was leaving Springfield, Il., it was just a matter of when. His job working a gritty third shift at one of the nation's largest trucking and logistics companies, where he routes trucks and loading trailers, allows for multiple location options for a transfer. He also has the kind of combat dossier that the big name gyms would welcome on board; a 5-1 pro record (14-1 as an ammy), former college athlete, lifelong gym rat, a 6-foot-2 flyweight, young and bright. After pondering gyms on both coasts, Ward visited the, filled out the fighter application, attached some fight clips and highlight videos and pressed 'Send'.

"About 20 minutes later they got back in touch with me," Ward said.

So with his transfer already filed, Ward will begin the process the Monday after his fight this Saturday to start at Jackson Wink MMA Academy in early 2016.

"I'm going to start training to go down there just as hard as if it was a fight," Ward said. "I'm ready to be a student again. I'm going to hit the ground running once I get there and try to fight for Shamrock again in March."

Ward was raised in Athens, Il, population just over 1,000.

"Just a hillbilly town down the rode from Abraham Lincoln" he said.

His stepfather, Scott Ward, was a professional in both kickboxing and MMA and a gym owner. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday that Trevor can remember they worked judo, sambo, wrestling, you name it.

"At a young age I was training with grown men," Ward said. "It was all about repetition and not being intimidated."

Ward (5-1) faces Kendrick Latchman (4-1) in highlight bout showcasing two of the top young flyweights in the region. You can expect Ward and Latchman to be a blur of activity both on the feet and on the floor. The spindly Ward feels that Latchman is looking past him to another fighter, Ken Porter, who Latchman was scheduled to fight earlier this year before a cut forced Porter to pull out. Meanwhile, Porter and Ward have a long training history together and a strong friendship.

"I think (Latchman) underestimates me a lot and I don't know why," Ward said. "He's looking through me to Ken and that's not very smart."

Flager and Huff share mutual respect

Two local featherweights who have seemingly been on a collision course since they turned pro will finally meet on Saturday. Kirk Huff out of St. Charles MMA/Arnold BJJ will face Yohance Flager from Berger's MMA/Fit or Fight in what could easily be fight of the night.

"I think it'll be an exciting fight," Huff said. "He's had a lot of experience, he's an athletic, strong guy. I think it'll be a great fight."

Flager echoed Huff's statement.

"He's relentless, he's focused, he trains hard, and he's pretty much good at what he does." Flager said. "He's a good grappler, I'm a good grappler. He's a good wrestler, I'm a good wrestler. I may have a quickness and speed advantage over him. Maybe a little more savvy ring generalship of having more fights, but even with that being said there's no way I can take him lightly."

See the full video here:

Full fight card:
Bobby Brents vs Fred Brown
Trevor Ward vs Kendrick Latchman
Kirk Huff vs Yohance Flager
Aaron Highfill vs Kevin Brown
Dan O'Connor vs Nick McClean
Lee Burns vs Marc Godeker

Shaun Scott vs Jason Christeson
Susie Wyatt vs Ashley Samples
Cortavoius Romerous vs David Evans
Bob Hinchcliffe vs Steven Coleman
Chris Moore vs Martell Washington
Jace Burcham vs Ben Brown
Luis Felipe vs Olly Cunningham

Shamrock FC: Ultimate
Saturday, December 5th
River City Casino, St. Louis, MO

For more information on SFC: Ultimate or to purchase tickets, click HERE