The brawler out of Gravois Mills, who just happened to come across a Facebook ad for the Bareknuckle Fighting Championship, never imagined he would one day be in the ring for its heavyweight tournament championship on Saturday night in Biloxi, Miss.

It has been quite a journey for Sam Shewmaker.

The brawler out of Gravois Mills, who just happened to come across a Facebook ad for the Bareknuckle Fighting Championship, never imagined he would one day be in the ring for its heavyweight tournament championship on Saturday night in Biloxi, Miss.

“I always had high aspirations as far as things like this happening,” said Shewmaker who is 43-8 as an amateur and remains unbeaten as a professional at 6-0. “Making it a reality has been pretty crazy. It has been exciting humbling and a whirlwind since June when it started.”

On June 2, Shewmaker, who is also known as the “Hillbilly Hammer” took part in the first legally sanctioned bareknuckle fight in the United States in 131 years when he stepped inside the ring in Cheyenne, Wyo., and knocked out former Bellator champion Eric “The American Soldier” Prindle. It was his first televised event and it did not take long for his reputation to spread as he received plenty of love in Morgan County, was approached by national media outlets and was even featured in a Vice documentary on the sport. The journey did not stop there, though, as Shewmaker took the next step and punched his ticket to the title fight of the eight-man tournament when he beat former K-1 kickboxing champion Maurice Jackson.

Shewmaker’s first bout against Prindle lasted just 18 seconds after landing a signature haymaker that sent his opponent to the canvas. His semifinal fight with Jackson went all five two-minute rounds where he emerged as the winner in a split decision (48-45, 49-45, 46-48).

“I’ve been in a lot of fights. I’ve won some quick with knockouts and some I’ve had to battle through until the decision,” said Shewmaker who also has an amateur record of 43-8 after 17 years as a boxer. “You may get knocked down, but you have to get up and keep pushing forward. I’ve been in the trenches and I know how it feels.

“Both fights were really exciting and you’d rather have the knockout, but as a veteran I know it won’t happen every time. I was expecting a tough fight and it definitely was.”

Now, there is a heavyweight championship on the line where Shewmaker will be taking on Arnold Adams who has a professional MMA record of 7-10 and an amateur record of 5-1 according to mixedmartialarts.com. The fight will be featured on pay-per-view as the main event of the evening with the festivities scheduled to get underway at 6 p.m.

The stage and spotlight will be bigger for Shewmaker, but he said he plans to treat this next challenge like any other fight. He took some time off work and flew to Philadelphia to do a professional training camp and the bareknuckle boxer said it was time well spent as he and his team are feeling pretty good after remaining unbeaten with six professional fights in just a year.

“People you don’t know are looking at you and tell you what you are doing right and wrong and giving you the confidence to believe yourself,” Shewmaker said of his time in Philadelphia. “They reiterated that some of the skill set and power I have is a positive and yo know they are professional trainers that have championships underneath them. That is a confidence booster in itself.”

Shewmaker said he has felt plenty of his love from all his fight fans back home wishing him good luck on Saturday night. Bringing home a heavyweight championship would just be icing on the cake.

“It would just be so crazy,” Shewmaker said of winning the title. “What a dream come true to become a champion, to be a part of history and bring back a sport that came before glove boxing. It is very honoring and humbling and it would be a dream to bring it back to Missouri, Morgan County and my hometown of Gravois Mills.”