Bantamweight prospect Erion Zekthi (4-1) and his longtime home, the Shamrock FC promotion itself, are set to return to action this Saturday June 26th for the first time since the pandemic shut the world down.
Zekthi will have a familiar foe come fight night, 28-year-old Dillon Tolbert (6-5), whom he was set to fight on the canceled March card, the last scheduled Shamrock FC event until now.
“I’m in the bath, 5 lbs out, when I find out Shamrock was shut down,” Zekthi told MMA-Prospects. “Didn’t know what to do or what to say. It is a good feeling to get the same opponent, same show, and do what we couldn’t do before.”
“The Albanian One” hasn’t competed since July of 2019, making it nearly two years away from the cage. Obviously, 2020 saw most fighters outside of the UFC have a tough time competing, But Zekthi also dealt with opponents falling through, the usual events of the regional scene.
“I can’t explain how antsy I am,” Zekthi said. “The regional scene fights have to make sense, I’m not saying fighters are scared of me, but fighting an 0-0 guy does nothing to progress me. We had fighters string us along, waste a lot of time. At the beginning of the pandemic, I thought we’d be fighting again in a month. I can’t explain the excitement to compete.”
There has been progressive build-up between Zekthi and Tolbert; some would even say some hatred has begun to brew between the two. For Zekthi, he truly doesn’t care.
“I can’t stress this enough, I don’t give a shit about this guy,” Zekthi laughed. “In the local St. L scene, I am the guy to beat. As an amateur and pro, I’ve always taken the tough fights. Any animosity is coming from Dillon. I’ll be honest, I don’t see these guys as on the same level as me. To have animosity is to have respect that they are on the same level, would you be mad at a child yelling at you? No, they don’t know what they are saying; that is Dillon.”
With Contender Series returning this summer, and only one fight under his belt since 2018, Zekthi has plans for a busy summer, but it all starts with becoming 5-1 this weekend.
“A win has me 5-1,” Zekthi explained. “I’ll be off a fresh camp – a real full camp – so Contender Series in August would be the plan. I’m trying not to fight in the local scene too much longer, I don’t need to pad my record, I want to fight the savages and killers of the next level. Mentality is KO Dillon, then keep the weight down and be ready for an opportunity.”
As for a prediction, Zekthi kept it simple:
“It’ll be a KO, It’ll be fast.”