(PRESS RELEASE) – All 18 fighters who will compete in the Strikeforce Challengers mixed martial arts (MMA) event on Friday, Nov. 6 weighed in on Thursday at the World Sports Café in Fresno, Calif.
In the main event on SHOWTIME, undefeated lightweight (155-pound limit) sensation Billy Evangelista (9-0) will square off with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt Jorge Gurgel (13-5) at the Save Mart Center in Fresno.
Other televised fights include a showdown between promising undefeated heavyweight prospects Shane Del Rosario (8-0) and Brandon Cash “Money” (5-0). Rising middleweight (185 pounds) stars Luke Rockhold (5-1) and Jesse “J T Money” Taylor (13-4) will duke it out, lightweights Thomas Diagne (1-0) and Merritt Warren (4-2) will square off and Zoila Frausto (3-0) will face Elisha Helsper (0-1) in a matchup of female MMA fighters.
On the undercard, former Fresno State University wrestling star and Fresno native Casey “The Underdog” Olson (11-3) will return to action in the cage in a lightweight matchup against Justin Smitley (6-5), Fresno’s Ben Holscher (3-0), a Health teacher and wrestling coach at Clovis High School, will take on Johnny Goh (1-2) in a lightweight matchup and Fresno’s submission expert Cole Escovedo (13-4) will face San Jose’s Anthony Figueroa (4-4).
Tickets for the STRIKEFORCE Challengers event are on sale at the Save Mart Center box office and select Save Mart Supermarkets as well as at all Ticketmaster locations (800-745-3000), Ticketmaster online (www.ticketmaster.com) and STRIKEFORCE’s official website (www.strikeforce.com).
Save Mart Center doors will open for the STRIKEFORCE Challengers event at 5:15 p.m. PT. The first live, non-televised, preliminary bout will begin at 6 p.m. The SHOWTIME telecast begins at 11 p.m. ET/PT, delayed on the west coast).
“He’s (Gurgel) an explosive, tough guy. He’s aggressive and experienced on the ground.
“I don’t have much of a game plan. I’ll adjust as I get in there.
“I need to be focused on the fight and be ready for any openings that come. I’ve trained for every aspect and I’m expecting everything in there. I just have to fight my fight.”
“I respect him (Evangelista) as a fighter. He’s well rounded and he has a lot of heart. He’d not going to give up.
“He’s well rounded, but I think I’m a better fighter and have more experience.
“It’s going to be a tough fight. I’m really looking forward to it.
“I’m excited to be booed for the first time in my career. They’ll boo me when I get in there, but they won’t be booing me when it’s over.”
BRANDON CASH “MONEY”:
“I don’t think he’s fought someone as hungry as me or as powerful as me. This is my backyard, so he’ll have to do a lot to take me out.
“I don’t see this going past the first round, not the way I fight. There won’t be much feeling out, we’ll just go out there and fight.
“As long as I get the win, I’ll be happy.
“I want him to quit. Once I hit him really hard, he’s not going to want to come back at me.
“I’m a little more nervous than usual fighting at home, but I think that will keep me on my toes.
“I’ve trained a lot harder and I’ve gotten a lot better. I can’t wait to show everyone on SHOWTIME how much I’ve progressed.”
SHANE DEL ROSARIO:
“I don’t think he’s fought anyone like me before.
“The first round is going to be pretty wild, but I need to stay relaxed in there.
“I’m not concerned with his size, I’m ready for everything.
“My cardio is really good right now. I’ve been in the gym since my last fight, so I’ve had a great training camp.”
“I’ll be ready for whatever happens in there. I’m comfortable for any direction the fight goes.
“I’ll take a KO if I can get it, but I’m ready for anything.
“I’m in great shape right now. I just need to stay relaxed in there.”
“I always gauge my opponents as future world champions or current world champs, that way I’m always prepared. But, I’m ready for anything in there.
“I learned a lot from my last fight. I took it on short notice and it didn’t go my way, but it (the loss) wasn’t a set back.”
“I want to continue to prove myself in there. A win on Friday night will be huge.”
“He’s an explosive fighter, so I know I have to be ready for that.
“I really want to go to the top; I just want to be No. 1. I’m used to being a champion. I’ve been a champ in San Shou, now I’m ready for MMA.
“My experience in San Shou has really helped me with starting my career in MMA.”
“I need to stick to my game plan with him.
“Being in the ring or the cage is like second nature to me. It’s a switch that just goes off for me. I’ll be ready.
“There’s going to be fireworks in the cage. It’s going to be a great fight.”
“I know she’s (Helsper) going to come out swinging, I just have to be able to weather the storm.
“I’d love to get a knockout on Friday night. I haven’t had one yet, so it’s about my time.
“The audience gets me a little nervous. But, as soon as I get in there, the crowd isn’t there.
“I have to bring it. There are no ifs, ands or buts, have to end this fight.”
“I’ve been training for two months steady for this fight.
“I need to give it my all and not give up. I’ve got the skills to win, I just need to put it all together.
“I think I’ll be able to shake off the cage rust. If anything, I think it will make me more aggressive.”
Strikeforce Challengers is a proving ground for up-and-coming MMA fighters. The series is designed to provide today’s top prospects with the opportunity to step-up their level of competition and demonstrate their ability in a nationally televised event.