Popular, unbeaten welterweight Jesse Finney (5-0) of St. Louis will try to cash in against Justin DeMoney (14-2-1) of Ottumwa, Idaho, in the top non-televised undercard fight when Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) returns to The Gateway City with STRIKEFORCE St. Louis: Heavy Artillery at Scottrade Center this Saturday, May 15.
The remaining six non-televised fights will include nine fighters from St. Louis or the surrounding areas: The St. Louis fighters are Michael Chandler (2-0), Tom Aaron (6-2), Eric Steenberg (3-0 and Matt Ricehouse (1-0). The others are Darryl Cobb (3-1) of East St. Louis, Lee “Manimal” Brousseau (4-1) of Wood River, Ill., Booker DeRousse (2-2) of St. Genevieve, Mo., Sal Woods (4-7) of Granite City, Ill., and Greg Wilson (pro debut) of Cobden, Ill.
Chandler throws down with Woods at 170 pounds; Aaron takes on Steenberg at 185 pounds, Ricehouse battles Wilson at 125 pounds, Brousseau faces Francisco “Kiko” France of Rio De Janiero, Brazil, at 205 pounds and Cobb meets DeRousse at 145 pounds.
In the final undercard bout on a stacked fight card, STRIKEFORCE newcomer Vitor “Shaolin” Ribeiro (20-3) of Rio De Janeiro will face undefeated Lyle “Fancy Pants” Beerbohm (13-0) of Spokane, Wash., at 155 pounds The aforementioned matchups will precede a five-fight telecast on SHOWTIME® (10 p.m. ET/PT, delayed on the west coast).
Doors will open at 6 p.m. CT on May 15. The first preliminary bout is at 6:30. Tickets are on sale at Scottrade Center ticket office, all Ticketmaster locations (800) 745-3000, Ticketmaster online (www.ticketmaster.com) and STRIKEFORCE’s official website (www.strikeforce.com).
Finney, a graduate of Affton High in St. Louis, has been victorious in all his fights in the first round, including a 1:55 submission (keylock) over Josh Baumgarner on the last STRIKEFORCE event in St. Louis on June 6, 2009.
Before MMA, Finney went unbeaten as a kickboxer (23-0) and is 8-2 as a pro boxer. Finney also is the head coach of the St. Louis Enforcers of Chuck Norris’s World Combat League.
“I know DeMoney is a super tough guy so this should be my biggest test in MMA,” said the six-foot, 35-year-old Finney who is the owner and head instructor of his own gym, Finney’s MMA in St. Louis. “He says he likes to stand and trade. If he really wants to do that, I look forward to the challenge of banging it out. I think I match up well with him in every area. Keys to getting this win are just being the athlete I am, and using my size and strength. I think I can beat him anywhere it goes.”
To better concentrate on the upcoming fight, Finney trained in Las Vegas for a month.
“I chose to leave and go to Vegas just to be able to train and that’s it,” he said. “I have a few businesses in St. Louis and I am very thankful for that, but trying to run them and train full-time was just too much. This is crazy but believe it or not, my wife talked me into going to Vegas. It turned out to be one of the best things I have ever done.
“I think most people think I am a kickboxer doing MMA and that’s simply not the truth anymore. I focus on my weaknesses every day and try to stay sharp on my strengths. My future in MMA is whatever Scott Coker wants. I’m a team player for STRIKEFORCE and always will be.
“I am not going to let anybody down on May 15.”
DeMoney has remained extremely active since turning pro in 2007. A seven-time Extreme Challenge veteran, he fought six times that year, four times in ’09 and on five occasions in ’08.
This will be DeMoney’s 2010 debut. He has gone unbeaten in his last nine starts (8-0-1). His last five victories have come inside the distance, including a second-round submission (punches) over Jesse Sanders in his last outing on Oct. 17, 2009.
Chandler, a former teammate of top prospect Tyron Woodley and a NCAA Division I All American, is a super-aggressive fighter who possesses great athleticism and speed, but his most impressive attributes may be his work ethic and ferocious tenacity. The 5-foot-8, 24-year-old has won both his starts by TKO (punches).
In his last effort, Chandler defeated Richard Bouphanouvong in the second round at a STRIKEFORCE event last Nov. 20. Chandler dispatched Kyle Swadley at 3:30 of the opening round in his pro debut on Aug. 8, 2009.
Woods is a hard-working, determined fighter looking to regain his winning ways. “I’m really looking forward to this fight and I know we will put on a great show,” said Woods, who lost to Woodley on June 6, 2009, at Scottrade Center. “MMA is not for everyone; it’s all about hard work and I’ve put in all the work for this fight.”
Aaron , a 5-foot-8, 31-year-old who fights out of Finney’s MMA, has won two out of three, including a TKO over Calvin Simmons in his outing on Nov. 21, 2009. Aaron went 6-0 in the amateurs.
Steenburg has won all three of his efforts in the second round. He ended matters with James Marino in his last start on Aug. 28, 2009, with a head kick 11 seconds into the session.
Ricehouse, who is making his STRIKEFORCE debut, registered a third-round KO (punches) over Tim Thomas in his pro debut on Jan. 30, 2010.
Cobb has been triumphant three consecutive times since losing his initial MMA fight. After winning two straight inside the distance, he won last time out on a split decision over Gary Tapasua at the STRIKEFORCE event on Nov. 20, 2009. DeRousse, who scored a first-round TKO over James Wade on June 6, 2009, at Scottrade Center, lost his last fight to Lee Brousseau on Oct. 3, 2009, via submission.
Brousseau is making his first start since defeating DeRousse. His three victories, which include a 0:18 KO (punches) over Greg LoFink on April 11, 2009, have totaled just 5:34. France is a highly touted grappling specialist who has won all his fights via first-round submissions: Total cage time: 3:39.
Ribeiro, a 30-year-old Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu specialist, is among the top lightweights in MMA. He’s won the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu World Championship four times, once as a purple belt in 1996 and three times as a black belt in three consecutive years (1999-2001).
Beerbohm is a top up-and-coming fighter who literally started MMA on his way home from prison after he spent a year and one day at the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla as a result of felony convictions, all related to his crystal meth addiction.
In the May 15 main event, STRIKEFORCE World Heavyweight Champion Alistair “The Demolition Man” Overeem (32-11) will defend against heavy-handed knockout artist Brett “The Grim” Rogers (10-1). Former world champions Andrei “The Pitbull” Arlovski (15-7) and Antonio “Big Foot” Silva (13-2) are matched in another heavyweight confrontation.
In other televised fights on SHOWTIME: Unbeaten Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu sensation Roger Gracie (2-0) will make his STRIKEFORCE and U.S. MMA debut against two-time NCAA National Wrestling Champion and former UFC heavyweight champion Kevin “The Monster” Randleman (17-14) in a light heavyweight scrap, middleweight superstar “Jacare” Souza (11-2) will face determined, hard-hitting Joey Villasenor (27-6) and Antwain “The Juggernaut” Britt (11-3) will collide with Rafael “Feijao” Cavalcante (8-2) at 205 pounds.
Shamrock Promotions is assisting STRIKEFORCE with local marketing for the event.