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Rolling the dice

By Brett Auten Knuckle Junkies

Finney's MMA and Shamrock Productions cashed in winning tickets at the casinos in 2011 and there looks to be more of the same in 2012.

In November, Shamrock Promotions signed an agreement for professional and amateur MMA and boxing events to be held at Lumiere Casino and River City Casino in the next calendar year.

Shamrock is coming off a triumphant year in Kansas City, where they set up shop at Harrah's Casino and put on several fights, including a Shark fights event to 2,500 paid attendance. Between Kansas City and St. Louis, Shamrock is planning on hosting 16 fights this year.

"We stepped into the casino market and it has turned into a sound decision on our part," Jesse Finney said. "From the promotions side of things, we couldn't be happier."

Lumiere will host the first of four events in 2012 taking place on January 28, Finney's first foray into the St. Louis casino market.

The card is expected to be finalized this week and will include Finney fighters Kevin Engel, a kickboxing and boxing specialist who has a professional boxing record of 17-4 and pro's Adam Cella (1-0) and Ben Brown (1-1). Finney instructor Ryan Sutton, a three-time FILA University Greco Roman All American, will also be fighting on the card. Cella, another Finney instructor, is a 2006 IKF World Classic Tournament Champion and 2008 Golden Gloves Champion in both novice and open. He was a 2008 National Golden Gloves qualifier. He was also a member of the World Combat League's St. Louis Enforcers.

The Lumiere Theatre holds under 1,000, which has made for brisk ticket sales for the inaugural event.

"When you put 600 fight fans into a room you will be able to feel the energy," Finney said.

The events at the Lumiere and River City will give Finney a chance to showcase his stable full of fighters at Finney's HIT squad. Finney estimates that there are 25-35 professionals at the gym, located in Granite City, IL.

"We are going to be able to bring in fighters from all over," Finney said. "For some of our guys, this will be the starting grounds and from here, they can work their way up.

"These are going to be a little different than our amateur shows. It will be extremely upscale."

Plans are also in the works to host a tournament at the casinos this year.

"Tournaments can really suck you in a little bit," Finney said, "and it puts together some interesting matchups instead of a promoter just putting them together."

Shamrock Promotions has been in the fore front of MMA in St. Louis and the Midwest since 1998. Some notable events Shamrock Promotions has been partnered with include: Strikeforce MMA, World Combat League, and Shark fights.

To purchase tickets for the Jan.28 show, you can go to the following link: TicketMaster