By Dave Madden @DMaddenMMA
“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”
What do hanging horseshoes, unbroken mirrors, and charms that ward off superstitious beliefs have in common? Absolutely nothing when it comes to Shamrock Fighting Championships (Shamrock FC). Shamrock FC’s CEO, Jesse Finney, checked in with MMA Mayhem Radio and verified his efforts, in conjunction with his team, to build a top-rated MMA organization had nothing to do with luck, and the same work ethic has been manufactured to provide a thrilling card on September 11, 2015 at the River City Casino and Hotel in St. Louis, Missouri for Shamrock FC: Fuel.
— The Lateral Press (@LateralPressPod) September 3, 2015
Finney began on the side of the rainbow void of any gold,
“We’ve been around for seventeen years, and we are putting out a product that, I feel, is first class all the way around.”
As Roman philosopher Seneca (4 BC-65 AD) stated: “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity,” and Finney recognizes the opportune fortune cookie Shamrock FC offers its athletes and fans,
“We’re here to build stars, but, listen, we are here to build stars for the UFC and Bellator. I get that. We are, I feel, a top five organization in the United States of America, and I feel like the people who come to our shows: It’s not just about the show; it’s about an experience they have when they come to the shows. It’s not just about the fights, but the experience…and the after-party afterwards.”
Playing the role of a customer pleasing, casino pit-boss, Finney took notice that you just missed the jackpot after feeding the machine credit after credit; therefore, he sauntered over and comped a trip through the buffet,
“I feel like some people get shortchanged; I really do. They are going to go to a fight and see their buddy fight, and see just a fight. Man, it’s really not about that; it’s about an experience. You can see some of the fights we put on. The fights, in general, are great, and we are going to put on a damn good show on September 11.”
Instead of circumventing any ladders, Finney and Shamrock FC continue to climb them:
“Right now, I get to sit here with you ten days out, and if you said, ‘Jesse, I need tickets,’ I can’t get you tickets. It’s completely sold out, except for some standing room only. I think that says something about our brand. We’ve been doing it so long, and people are very loyal to our brand. Their expectations are high, so they are going to expect a great show; hopefully, we’ll put that on for them.”
Finney’s description of the organization doesn’t read like the fine print on the back of a lottery ticket, and he scratched out Shamrock FC’s very successful model,
“I say this on a pretty consistent basis: Our stars are going to come and go. I can’t provide a career for millions of dollars for these fighters to go out and make their money. I hope in the future we can, but, for right now, I know we can’t do it. So what we try to do is put together a product for the fans that are there because they are going to know that at a Shamrock show: This is what I’ve come to expect, and this is what I’m going to get. I want these guys to move on to the UFC; I want these guys to move on to Bellator. I want these guys to make millions of dollars, and we’ve helped probably forty or fifty of them throughout our seventeen years of business.”
If every fight promoter hangs a rabbit’s foot on the rearview mirror of their vehicle, what makes Finney’s so special,
“If you are going to do it, do it right. If you are going to put one fight-show together; if you are going to put fifty fight-shows together, just do it right. Do it first class. Don’t try to chince and just try to save money here or save money there. I feel like, long-term, if you don’t reinvest in your product, it’s not going to sustain longevity. I feel like you can’t let your ego get in the way of your pocketbook.”
On a proverbial stroll with Finney, those held fast to their speakers, like a stem to a four-leaf clover’s petals, learn some ins and outs of the prerequisite mindset to operating a well-followed promotion. You get the sense that only white cats were crossing your path. The black ones are there, but Finney staved them off, protecting your vantage from any ill-willed perceptions:
“I hear people all the time, ‘Ah, I want to be on TV; I want to be on TV,’ with a lot of these promotions. You’ve seen hundreds of guys throughout the years; they’re going to be the next big thing for that night. You’re going to be the next big thing for the next couple of shows. But then, all of the sudden, you’re going to be broke and hiding from everybody.”
A promoter’s excitement for a card only fuels fans’ interest to click ‘Buy Now’ because rarely do these highly anticipated events fall short. If, by chance, a particularly pumped-up pay-per-view proved to be a pancake, the thud was muffled in comparison to the heavily publicized event on November 2, 2001, UFC 34: High Voltage. Chronicled in “Big” John McCarthy’s autobiography Are You Ready? Let’s Get It On! (2011), the UFC, under the freshly formed Zuffa banner staged their third event, which was also the UFC’s return to pay-per-view since previously owned by SEG (Semaphore Entertainment Group). McCarthy captured the aftermath when the event extended beyond its time limit and entertainment expectations were not met,
Despite their best efforts, Zuffa had repeated the mistake SEG had made at UFC 4 in 1994. Many customers asked for refunds, and the event was considered a financial disaster. The fights weren’t considered particularly interesting either. Of the eight bouts offered, six went to anticlimactic decisions. (p. 301)
Finney’s hype for Shamrock FC’s appearance in St. Louis on September 11 fuels my hope that my online purchase of the event, shamrockfightingchampionships.com/watch-live/, will find me to be the one-millionth customer. Finney stated,
“I’m so excited for this card that I had my wife get a sitter. We are staying the night at the casino because I’m jacked for the card. This is a don’t miss card. Actions speak louder than words; I mean, don’t listen to my words, but I’d say this is just an incredible job putting these fights together. This card is just straight kick ass from the top to the bottom.”
You don’t want to miss Shamrock FC: Fuel; it’ll be magically delicious!
— Shamrock FC (@Shamrock_FC) September 5, 2015
Felice Herrig vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz in the works for UFC 223
UFC 223 looks to add a variety of intriguing bouts. With Paul Felder vs. Al Iaquinta reportedly set for the unannounced UFC 223 card, the promotion looks to add a high stakes female flyweight match-up. According to MMANYTT.com, sources confirmed a bout between Felice Herrig and Karolina Kowalkiewicz, is in the works for the pay-per-view card.
Assuming the match-up does come to be, both women have much to gain from a victory. For Herrig, she currently sits on a four-fight win streak. A streak in which the strawweight contender defeated Kailin Curran, Alexa Grasso, Justine Kish, and Cortney Casey. The MMA veteran, Herrig, began fighting professionally in 2009. As of late, her issues with the marketing machine that is the UFC have intensified.
After demonstrating her technical prowess over Justine Kish at UFC Fight Night 122: Chiesa vs. Lee, Herrig put her emotions on display. She stated at the post-fight media scrum, “Sometimes, I feel like, I’m not young and beautiful enough for the UFC to want to promote me. And it’s sad because I’ve really worked so hard to be here and it’s hard to see these people who’ve not been through what I’ve been through. Who just got into the UFC at the right time. They’re getting all these opportunities and I see how hard I work to get here and it’s just like, it doesn’t matter. I just feel like, ‘I’m not pretty enough and I’m not getting any younger'”.
A frustrated Felice Herrig then spoke to MMAJunkie.com in December. She claimed, “Aside from (former UFC women’s strawweight champ) Joanna (Jedrzejczyk), I’m the only strawweight who’s gone on a four-fight winning streak. That’s a fact. At this point, I want to fight someone in the top 10. It doesn’t really make sense for me to keep fighting girls that are ranked below me. That’s the whole point. If I want to keep working my way up. I fight the most dangerous girls outside the top 10”. The #9 ranked women’s flyweight has a point. In her UFC career, she recorded one loss in six appearances. Yet, she has one co-main event booking, while fighters like Michelle Waterson, booked the main event in her second UFC bout. In Waterson’s third bout, she received a co-main event scheduling. Understandably, Felice Herrig is upset with her situation.
Later in her interview, Herrig brought up Kowalkiewicz as a potential next opponent. “For whatever reason, I really want to fight Karolina. I just think that would be an exciting fight… Stylistically, I really like that fight. She’s ranked above (me), and it may be a good gauge for me,” she stated. Right now, it looks like Herrig is close to getting what she wants.
Kowalkiewicz last fought in her native country of Poland on the UFC Fight Pass card, UFC Fight Night 118: Cowboy vs. Till, in October. The Polish star defeated Jody Esquibel, after losing consecutive contests to former UFC female strawweight champion, Joanna Jedrzejcyk and Claudia Gadelha, respectively.
A win for either makes a good case for the next or an eventual title challenger. Kowalkiewicz holds a victory over current division champion, Rose Namajunas. While a win for Herrig would further establish her impressive win streak and undoubtedly give her the boost in the rankings she deserves.
Douglas Lima found out about change to co-main event at Bellator 192 from the internet
Bellator 192 fight card has gone through a shake-up over the past week. Bellator president Scott Coker revealed last week that the scheduled welterweight title fight between Rory MacDonald and champion Douglas Lima will now be serving as the co-main event and the heavyweight matchup between Chael Sonnen and Rampage Jackson would instead take top billing. At the time no explanation was made for the change. Monday Douglas Lima was a guest on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani to discuss this change.
“I was little bummed, but it is what it is, it’s business you know. I was pretty excited you know? Being the main event, having Rampage fight as the co-main event, I was happy there. Then I was bummed out that they changed it back to the co-main event. It’s not going to change a thing for me, I’m just focusing on the fight.”
Lima has been notoriously looked over in the eyes of fight fans. A longtime member of Bellator and a two-time champion has not gotten the notice he deserves and hopes to get.
“I found out through the internet, nobody tells me anything, I didn’t know. the same thing happened in New York, I thought my fight would be before the two main events there, but it ended up being the first fight of the night on Pay-Per-View. Hopefully, it doesn’t take anything away from the fight, you know spotlight and stuff.”
Lima is looking to make all the naysayers take notice at Bellator 192 that takes place at The Forum in Inglewood, Califonia on January 20th.
“This is the fight I’ve been waiting for for a long time. To get my name out there, to get people to know who I am. I’ve been delivering a lot of good fights, fights fans like to watch but no attention yet. I’m hoping though that after a win over Rory this week it will really put my name out there and show all these welterweights out there that I am for real.”
Al Iaquinta vs. Paul Felder rescheduled for UFC 223 in April
MMA fans around the world wept in deep sorrow when Al Iaquinta withdrew from a bout scheduled for UFC 218 against Paul Felder. Weep no more, for Paul Felder faces Al Iaquinta at UFC 223. Rumblings behind the match-up, first reported by FloCombat.com, came Sunday night before MMAFighting.com confirmed the bout scheduled for unannounced pay-per-view card, later in the evening.
The original bout fell through due to a severe knee injury to Iaquinta. He spoke to BJ Penn Radio about the injury nearly a week before the December 2nd, PPV event in Detriot. The Long Island real estate agent claimed, “I tore my PCL and my MCL maybe three or four months ago… for me to really put in a full training camp and do what I need to do, I would’ve had to just focus on fighting and physical therapy… it was the kind of thing where all roads led to me not kind of taking a risk and fighting on December 2nd”.
Iaquinta went on to say, “I kind of accepted the fight, but I never signed a bout agreement… I was kind of told I had to give them an answer pretty quick. It was a fight I thought I really wanted. I thought it was a good stylistic match-up for me, so I accepted the fight, and then thinking about it over the course of a day, we realized it probably wasn’t a smart decision for my health, for everything”.
An outspoken lightweight, he is not the first of his kind. Al Iaquinta is no stranger to idly waiting on the sideline for the UFC to make a move. Contract disputes and other bad strokes of luck left the Serra-Longo with three octagon appearances since 2015. The feud between Iaquinta and the promotion comes as a surprise when looking at the credentials of the aforementioned fighter. With an octagon record of 8-2, he earned notoriety as one of the best lightweights in the world. During his time in the UFC, he defeated Kevin Lee, Ross Pearson, Joe Lauzon, Jorge Masvidal, and most recently Diego Sanchez.
His opponent, “The Irish Dragon”, Paul Felder, holds an impressive UFC record of his own. At 7-3, Felder defeated tough competition as well. His record notes wins over Daron Cruickshank, Jason Saggo, Stevie Ray, and Charles Oliveira. Even more impressive than his record, his knockout ratio. At this stage of his career, Felder knockouts 55% of his opponents (10 knockouts in 18 career pro bouts).
Like his opponent Iaquinta, Paul Felder has a separate career outside of fighting. As many should notice, Felder found a role as a color commentator with the promotion he fights for. Following the footsteps in a long line of fighters before him, Felder announced multiple events alongside another new addition to the UFC broadcast team, Brendan Fitzgerald.
PPV card, UFC 223 and its location are not official yet. Despite a lack of an announcement, the event takes place in Brooklyn, New York at the Barclays Centre, according to multiple reports. Currently, the card features no official bouts. Reports state Felice Herrig vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz (per Jim Edwards), and Evan Dunham vs. Mairbek Taisumov (per Farah Hannoun) are both in the works for UFC 223.
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