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Blair, Nelson Clash at SFC

By Sam Catanzaro | for Knuckle Junkies

Shamrock Fighting Championships returns to Lumiere Place Saturday and on tap is a compelling co-main event.

Welterweights Luke Nelson and Joel Blair will square off in a battle between a highlight reel striker and a never-say-die combatant.

Both have extensive backgrounds in striking, which should thrill another sold out SFC crowd.

"This fight is not going to the ground unless someone gets dropped," Shamrock FC matchmaker Rob Donaker said. "That's what people like to see."

Nelson is coming off a brilliant performance in his pro debut against Kain Royer at SFC: Invincible in December. Nelson won by TKO over Royer in a little over a minute into the fight.

"The win definitely strengthens my mind and confidence; he had a lot of hype behind him," Nelson said.

Nelson got involved in MMA through the Marine Corps. While serving, his instructors encouraged him to learn new styles and new disciplines of martial arts. Now, at 27, Nelson's MMA career is starting to take off.

"My job is fighting and training," Nelson said. "I'm in this to be a world champ. The reason I fight is because I love the sport. Not everyone can do this, wake up and become a fighter. It is not a weekend thing."

To be successful on Saturday Nelson knows he has to put the pressure on, stick to his game plan, and do whatever it takes to get the KO.

Nelson comes out of St. Louis' ATT Evolution, the home gym of UFC welterweight star Tyron Woodley and he trains with Woodley exclusively.

"It's phenomenal," Nelson said. "His experience and teachings are priceless. It is an honor to be around him and train with him."

Most would be intimidated by such a powerhouse such as Woodley in their opponent's corner, but not Blair.

"I'm not really star struck," Blair said. "I look at life in a different way. We're all human beings."

After over a year away from competition, Blair has jumpstarted his career under the SFC banner.

In December's SFC: Invincible, Blair was a last-minute substitute and pulled off a unanimous decision win over a tough Jake Buehler. Blair returned to St. Louis in January for SFC: Demolition. Blair faced talented up-and-comer Scott Futrell and lost by unanimous decision in a back and forth battle.

"The more you fight the more you learn," Blair said. "It is just an honor to fight top guys."

At 32, Blair has had a crazy ride in his MMA career. Blair joined Devore Academy in 2008, and tried out for The Ultimate Fighter season 9 in Chicago. He competed in Golden Gloves back in 2009 and worked at Finney's MMA from 2010-2012. Blair is now on his own, training out of a friend's garage while working at Caterpillar as a dock coordinator is Sullivan, Ill.

"I would love to dedicate more time to MMA," Blair said. "I'm just a normal guy with a normal life trying to fight my ass off."

To be successful against Nelson Blair is going to lean on his boxing abilities, chip away, and break Nelson down.

"I think he is going to have a lot of problems with my speed and stand-up," Blair said.

The Nelson-Blair collision continues a string of intriguing matchups Donaker has put together over the course of the past several months.

"It should be a good fight," he said. "For Luke, I think this will be a bit tougher of a fight than his two previous, which comes with the territory."

SFC: Revenge is highlighted by the main event of Sal Woods vs. Garrett Gross. For more information, go to

Photos courtesy of Jimmy Range Photgraphy