The next edition of the Strikeforce Challengers series goes down Friday night at its new home, the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas. In the main event, light heavyweight prospect Lorenz Larkin will try to continue his rise up the ranks against Nick Rossborough.
The rest of the card took a hit when Julie Kedzie pulled out of her scheduled fight against Germaine de Randamie. However, Ryan Couture, Lavar Johnson and Jason High will all still fight live on Showtime.
Lorenz Larkin vs. Nick Rossborough
Larkin showed that he was a quality striker when he pulverized Scott Lighty. He then turned around and showed he can crack against a quality grappler when he scored a decision over Gian Villante. Rossborough is more in the grappler mode. He might get a few takedowns, but Larkin will be able to land the telling blows on the feet and finish the fight.
Pick = Lorenz Larkin
Film Study: Lorenz Larkin vs. Scott Lighty (Strikeforce Challengers 16)
Ryan Couture vs. Maka Watson
After not fighting for almost two full years, Watson made his Strikeforce debut against all-star grappler Bill Cooper. For the first time in his career, Watson faced a fighter with a professional victory on his record. He managed to make it to the second round, but ultimately submitted to Cooper’s rear-naked choke. Couture is coming off his first career defeat, but he should have enough on the ground to pick up the victory.
Pick = Ryan Couture
Film Study: Ryan Couture vs. Lee Higgins (Strikeforce Challengers 14)
Lavar Johnson vs. Shawn Jordan
Both of these heavyweights like to throw bombs. However, only one of them got handily outstruck by Devin Cole and that was Jordan. Johnson may never break into the highest level of the division, but when it comes to brawling with lower level heavyweights, he is one of the best (see film study).
Pick = Lavar Johnson
Film Study: Lavar Johnson vs. Lolohea Mahe (Strikeforce Challengers 7)
Jason High vs. Todd Moore
High struggles when he faces better wrestlers and when powerful strikers land clean on his chin. Moore does not really bring either of those elements to the table. Look for High to take the fight to the ground and show off his underrated grappling game. With a victory here, High will have won six-straight fights since leaving the UFC in 2010.
Pick = Jason High
Film Study: Jason High vs. Yuya Shirai (Dream 8)
Brian Melancon vs. Felipe Portela
Melancon probably deserved the win in his Strikeforce debut against Isaac Vallie-Flagg. He is a solid wrestler that hits with a lot of power. On the other hand, Portela is a dynamic ground fighter who trains with Xande Ribeiro and Rani Yahya. If Melancon uses his wrestling in reverse, he should be able to pick apart Portela on the feet.
Pick = Brian Melancon
Film Study: Brian Melancon vs. Isaac Vallie-Flagg (Strikeforce: Overeem vs. Werdum)