– Ten area fighters, including “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler of Granite City, Ill., who will face San Francisco’s Jake Shields in the highly anticipated main event,  are scheduled to compete on Strikeforce’s sensational mixed martial arts event this Saturday, June 6, at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis.


The biggest MMA event in the history of the Gateway City also will include nine other Midwest fighters. They will be featured during a five-bout, non-televised undercard that will precede a five-fight telecast on SHOWTIME (10 p.m. ET/PT, delayed on the west coast).


Doors at the Scottrade Center will open for Strikeforce: “Lawler vs. Shields” at 6:30 p.m. CT this Saturday. The first non-televised preliminary bout will begin at 7 p.m. Tickets, priced from $30, are on sale at the Scottrade Center box office, all Ticketmaster locations (800-745-3000), Ticketmaster online (www.ticketmaster.com), and Strikeforce’s official website (www.strikeforce.com).


Four of the 10 fighters on the undercard hail from St. Louis – Jesse Finney, Tyron Woodley, Pat Benson and Dave Cochran. There is also a fighter from Columbia (Lucas Lopes), one from St. Genevieve (Booker DeRousse), one from St. Peters (James Wade), one from Granite City (Salvoder Woods) and one from Edwardsville, Ill., by way of Wood River, Ill. (Scott Ventimiglia).


The undefeated Finney (3-0) will be opposed by fellow unbeaten Josh Bumgarner (7-0) at 175 pounds, Woodley will meet Woods at 170 pounds, Gateway City competitors Benson and Cochran will collide at 155, Ventimigilia faces Lopes at 185 pounds and DeRousse takes on Wade at 205 pounds.


Finney, a graduate of Affton High in St. Louis, has been victorious in all his fights in the first round, including a 20-second knockout over John Price in his last start on Aug. 22, 2008.


The owner and head instructor of his own gym, Finney’s MMA in St. Louis, the six-foot, 34-year-old won his other two starts by submission – one in 1:20, the other in 2:45.


 Before turning to 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.


 Bumgarner, of Waterloo, Iowa, is a highly skilled kickboxer with strong Jiu-Jitsu skills. He is making his 2009 debut after winning his last start on Oct. 25, 2008.


Woodley, the 11th of 13 children raised by his mother, was born, raised and lives in St. Louis. Making a go of it on the tough streets wasn’t easy and he underwent his fair share of growing pains. Due in large part to wrestling, however, and, now, MMA, Woodley has turned his life around dramatically.

“My mother raised all of us, and she never complained. She did everything. My goal has always been to buy her a house, and that is still my goal,’’ Woodley said.


The hard-nosed Woods, a stand out from Granite City, Ill, registered a 0:44, first-round submission over Ryan Scheeper on April 11, 2009, during Battle @ The Bend III in Illinois.


Benson, an instructor at Finney’s gym, has been into Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for 15 years and holds a black belt in the martial art.  He is known for putting relentless pressure on opponents.


Cochran, who’s making his 2009 debut, has won two of his last three starts. A lethal striker, he is unaccustomed to putting in a full night’s work, having gone the distance in only four of his 34 fights. Ten of his 16 victories have come by submission.


Ventimiglia has won three straight and six of seven. The submission master has forced 11 of his 12 victims to tap out.  The world-class Lopes has been triumphant in three of his last four.


DeRousse will try to put into play his vicious slams and powerful ground and pound offensive in an effort to regain his winning ways in what will be his 2009 debut. Wade has won two straight and three of four.


In other fights on SHOWTIME’s five-fight telecast, Arlovski, a former UFC champion, will take on the undefeated, hard-hitting Rogers in an Affliction sponsored heavyweight bout, exciting, power-punching Scott “Hands Of Steel’’ Smith will take on talented, Cesar Gracie black belt Nick Diaz, knockout artist Phil “The New York Bad Ass’’ Baroni will meet Joe “Diesel’’ Riggs in a welterweight scrap and ex-UFC belt-holder and two-time NCAA Division I national wrestling champion Kevin “The Monster” Randleman will face “Iron’’ Mike Whitehead in a light heavyweight matchup.


The fights are scheduled for three-3-minute rounds, with the exception of Arlovski-Rogers, which is slated for five, 5-minute rounds.




June 1, 2009

Scottrade Center

St. Louis, Missouri

created by: Mark Bader

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