Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker announced during last night’s Strikeforce: Heavy Artillery post-fight press conference that the event drew 8,136 fans, shy of the 8,867 that their first event, Strikeforce: Lawler vs. Shields, drew at the same venue. Coker told MMAJunkie that he gave credit for a lot of the attendance to the man he calls the “Cung Le of St. Louis,” Jesse Finney (5-0), who defeated Justin DeMoney in the first round in a preliminary bout.
“Jesse no doubt had a big impact,” Coker said. “It always makes it easier when you’ve got a guy like him on the card. It was a great crowd. You heard it. The fans really were into all the fights, top to bottom.”
Coker stated that nearly 20 percent of tickets were sold to students and friends of Finney, who is a promoter and owns a gym in the area. Much of the local media coverage was focused on him, and he was even asked to throw out the first pitch at Thursday’s St. Louis Cardinals game.
“This is his home base, and he has a really successful school here,” Coker stated. “He has his own promotions. And really, he could step back and say, ‘Hey, I really don’t want to help you guys.’ But we had a conversation about a year ago, and he welcomed us with open arms, and we’ve become very good friends, and I’m very thankful for his efforts.”
Finney had competed at the first Strikeforce card in St. Louis and had a similar impact. Coker is now considering giving the undefeated welterweight a shot at the promotion’s bigger stars, even if that means a card outside of Missouri.