As governments started imposing social distancing measures and other restrictions, it appeared at first that Shamrock FC 329, scheduled for March 13 in St. Louis, Mo., would happen. As the week leading into the event went on, it became clear it would be shut down.
From there the dominos fell and the next two Shamrock events, slated for April 4 and May 9, followed suit and were cancelled. Watching in real time, Shamrock CEO and founder Jesse Finney saw how quickly his event could go from happening to having to be pushed to a later date.
“In 22 years, we had never postponed a show or cancelled a show ever, so that kind of sucks,” Finney told MMAWeekly.com. “Monday (May 9) they shutdown 5,000 people or more gatherings, then it went to 2,000 people or less, and we were probably going to put 1500. We found out that Friday (the cap went) from 2,000 to 250 people, and we have 250 people at our weigh-ins, so there was no way we could do it.
“(Cancelling the next two shows) was pretty quick. It was probably within a week. Everything is like a blur, and I’m pretty in tune with things.”
When an event is cancelled on short notice it’s not an instantaneous thing. As Finney notes, he had to go down the line of those involved with the show and inform them in turn of what was going on.
“On Thursday, the cage crew was at our warehouse and getting the cage and everything together,” said Finney. “The production company was coming on Thursday. We were getting everything set up, and I called and told them to hold the breaks and give me a couple hours to figure out if we were going to do the show. It was 100-percent a go 12 hours beforehand, but within an hour I said we were done and had to pull the plug.
“Everybody coming Thursday we had to stop them first, then put out a press release as fast as possible. The fighters knew within two hours after we knew. They were getting ready to cut weight. I competed myself, and I want to look after the fighters. We have a group message for all the fighters anyway, so we sent that out via messenger, then we did emails, and five minutes after that we put it out to the public.”
As of right now, Shamrock looks to be able to hold three shows and bring back all the fighters they can from the cancelled events on the rescheduled shows.
“We’re actually going to do a show on July 10 in St. Louis as the make-up show for March, then we’re going to do a show the next night same casino on July 11,” Finney said. “Then in May we have our fingers crossed for May 30. It was May 9, but they put nothing until mid-May right now in Missouri, so we’ll see (if the May 30 date happens).
“The guys we had to postpone the card in March, they have first crack on the July show. On the July show we’re trying to keep as many match-ups as possible. We’re just trying to take care of the guys and whatever works best for them is what we’re going to do.”
Rather than be mired in worry, Finney is optimistic for a return to form – not only for MMA, but the country as a whole – in the coming year.
“This isn’t about one of us, this is about all of us, it really is,” said Finney. “We’re going to get through this as an MMA community, and get through this as the United States of America, and we’re going to make it. It’s not a matter of if, but when; and that goes for our company and people in general.”