Michigan Fighter “Fighting for the dogs” at Brawl in the Fall – Donofrio MMA

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ROCHESTER HILLS – In person, Gordon “Shotgun” Shell looks the part of an MMA fighter. Head shaved and face sporting an extended goatee, the 43-year-old is built like a truck, yet moves with the grace of a man half his age. But when he opens his mouth, any preconceived notions about “men who fight” go out the window. Shell i

s soft-spoken, with a grin spreading across his face at the even the slightest provocation; a face that, right now, is marked with bruises, scrapes and cuts. Shell is in the final stretch of training leading up to his last professional fight this coming Saturday at “Brawl in the Fall,” an MMA event at Meadow Brook Music Festival.

MMA’s inherent dangers are not new to anyone who follows the sport, but what’s caused the 43-year-old to finally hang up the boots is a heart condition recently discovered by doctors. Despite advising him not to fight, they’ve cleared him to participate in one final swan song. But what’s making Shell step back into the ring? Pride – and a burning passion to help those who cannot help themselves: animals. That’s why Shell has decided to donate the entirety of his fight purse to the Michigan Humane Society (MHS).

“I tried to retire in 2010, but I’ve never gotten over my loss in my final fight,” Shell said. “So I decided to take this fight, and fight for a cause – to stop dogfighting and help abused animals, despite my heart condition. The doctors originally told me that medication and a possible heart replacement in my 50s were my only choices.”

That didn’t sit well with Shell.

“I fired my cardiologist and began my intense training and weight cut in order to strengthen my heart,” Shell said. “I’ve dropped 60 pounds from my 245 pound frame and I feel better than I have in 15 years.”

Shell has no children, but along with his wife Kim, have brought two rescue dogs into their lives who they treat as family. Of the two dogs, named Bella and China, one was adopted from the Friends of Dearborn Animal Shelter, while the other was adopted from the MHS Berman Center for Animal Care in Westland.

“Our dogs have changed our lives,” Shell said. “My wife and I treat them like children. I grew up with family pets and have never been without.

Shell has observed the MHS’ Cruelty Investigators in action, who investigate cruelty, abuse and neglect of animals in the cities of Detroit, Hamtramck and Highland Park, and seen firsthand the deplorable conditions that some of these animals are facing. Though the population of the city may be shrinking, the problems facing these animals are growing exponentially. In the past two years, calls to MHS reporting animals in need rose by 50 percent – a total of approximately 10,000 cruelty and rescue calls every year.

“What I see breaks my heart every day,” Shell said. “I know that I alone will not be able to solve the problem, but if I can contribute, I will.”

“Brawl in the Fall” will be held at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 15, at the Meadowbrook Music Festival, located at 3554 E. Walton Boulevard in Rochester Hills. Tickets are available at www.palacenet.com

, the Palace Box Office, Meadow Brook Box Office, all Ticketmaster outlets, or by phone at (800) 745-3000. Shell’s bout against Gary Palmer is the co-main event of the evening.

Even though Shell says this is the last fight of his career, he’s leaving the door open for a one fight comeback – once again, to benefit animals.

“I tried to come back and fight Mike Vick, but he declined,” Shell said. “If he ever accepts, or another fighter wants to fight on his behalf and donate to the dogs, I may return again.”

The Michigan Humane Society is a private, nonprofit organization which cares for more than 100,000 animals each year, while working to end companion animal homelessness, provide the highest quality service and compassion to the animals entrusted to our care, and to be a leader in promoting humane values.

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