EA Sports MMA and Sherdog.com Exchange Program fighters to make Strikeforce debuts on Henderson vs. Babalu undercard

NEW YORK (Nov. 10, 2010) – Three of the four upstart athletes who recently completed the EA SPORTS MMA and Sherdog.com fighter exchange training program by training with a STRIKEFORCE fighter mentor will put their newly enhanced Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) skills to the test on the undercard of STRIKEFORCE: Henderson vs. Babalu at Scottrade Center in St. Louis on Saturday, Dec. 4.

Fernando Bettega of Huntington Beach, Calif., trained with STRIKEFORCE World Middleweight (185 pounds) Champion Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza, Max “Payne” Martytniouk of Los Angeles by way of Russia, trained with former STRIKEFORCE World Light Heavyweight (205 pounds) Champion Gegard Mousasi, and Patrick Cummins of Reynolds, Penn. trained with STRIKEFORCE middleweight (185 pounds) superstar Jason “Mayhem” Miller as part of the program that brought to life the “career mode” in EA SPORTS MMA, which was released on Oct. 19.

The program, which sent each pair of STRIKEFORCE star and future star hopeful to several of the world’s leading MMA camps, kicked off immediately after the live, SHOWTIME®-televised STRIKEFORCE: Diaz vs. Noons II event on Oct. 9 and concluded at the end of last month.

“CraveOnline looked at the release of EA SPORTS MMA as an opportunity for our Sherdog personnel to open up this world to the masses,” stated John Keefer, Vice President of CraveOnline, the parent company of Sherdog.com. “The fighter exchange followed the format of the EA SPORTS MMA video game by taking four up-and-coming fighters and teaming them up with established fighters to get an emersion course on what it takes to be the best.  The result is an exciting journey that will end in the ultimate test for these fighters at the STRIKEFORCE event.”

EA SPORTS MMA celebrates the global nature of mixed martial arts and the fighter exchange program brought to life the worldwide journey found in the game for the four up-and-coming MMA fighters,” said Randy Chase, Senior Product Manager.  “The EA SPORTS MMA team is very excited to see the four protégés get the opportunity to showcase their skills on the big stage of the Dec. 4 STRIKEFORCE event.”

Bettega (6-4), a 30-year-old member of the Chute Boxe MMA fight team, will square off with Wayne Phillips (4-3) of San Jose, Calif. at welterweight (170 pounds).

Phillips, a member of American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) in San Jose, earned a career-best, much-needed victory in his last start with a 4:27, first-round submission (armbar) over Eric Lawson on a STRIKEFORCE Challengers undercard  last Feb. 26  in  San Jose.  The upset victory snapped a five-fight winning streak for Lawson.

Born in the former Soviet Union, Martyniouk (0-0) is, along with his brother Stan, being eyed as one of the potential future superstars of the sport.  Martyniouk, a onetime amateur boxer who gravitated towards MMA over the course of his youth, will battle Justin Lawrence (0-0) of Pacific, Mo., at lightweight.

A two-time St. Louis Golden Gloves boxing tournament winner and six-time national amateur kickboxing champion, Lawrence’s start will mark his professional debut after compiling a perfect 5-0 record under amateur status.

Cummins is a 29-year-old former NCAA wrestling standout for Penn State University.  He will face off with undefeated Terrell Brown (2-0) of O’ Fallon, Mo.

Brown, 27, turned pro with a second-round TKO (punches) over Luke Burton on June 26, 2010. The following Aug. 11, Brown won a unanimous decision over Vadiano La Cruz.

While paired with Souza, Bettega, a winner of two of his last three fights, visited El Nino Training Center, the San Francisco-based camp owned by STRIKEFORCE World Lightweight (155 pounds) Champion Gilbert “El Nino” Melendez, as well as Cesar Gracie’s camp in Pleasanton, Calif.; AKA; and Werdum Combat Team, the gym owned by STRIKEFORCE heavyweight superstar Fabricio Werdum.

Along with his mentor, Mousasi, Martyniouk trained during the EA SPORTSMMA program at STRIKEFORCE superstar Dan Henderson’s Team Quest in Temecula, Calif.; Elite MMA, the Westlake Village, Calif. gym owned by MMA legend Bas Rutten; and Gokor Chivichyan’s Team Hayastan in North Hollywood, Calif.

Together, Cummins and Miller ventured to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil gyms, including Nogueira, Gracie Barra, Nova Uniao, Gordo Jiu-Jitsu, Brazilian Top Team (BTT), Renovacao Fight Team (RFT), Nobre Arte and X-Gym.

In the Dec. 4 main event, MMA superstar Dan Henderson (25-8) of Temecula, Calif., will clash in a rematch with STRIKEFORCE light heavyweight world champion Renato “Babalu” Sobral (36-8) of Brazil at light heavyweight (205 pounds).

Paul “Semtex’’ Daley (25-9-2) of Nottingham, England, will make his STRIKEFORCE debut against power punching Scott “Hands Of Steel’ Smith (17-7, 1 NC) of Elk Grove, Calif., at welterweight (170 pounds).

Another knockout artist, “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler (17-6, 1 NC) of Granite City, Ill., will take on 2000 Olympic Games silver medalist Matt “The Law” Lindland (22-7) of Oregon City, Ore., in a middleweight (185 pounds) scrap; Antonio “Big Foot” Silva (14-2) will collide with Valentijn “The Python” Overeem (28-23), brother of STRIKEFORCE Heavyweight Champion Alistair “The Demolition Man” Overeem; and football legend and unbeaten MMA fighter, the remarkable Herschel Walker (1-0), will be opposed by Scott Carson (4-1).

Crowd favorite and St. Louis native, welterweight Jesse Finney, will take on a foe to be announced in the top non-televised undercard scrap.

Tickets for the event are on sale at Scottrade Center, online at Ticketmaster.com and Strikeforce.com or by phone (800) 745-3000.

Doors at Scottrade Center will open for the event at 6 p.m. CT.  The first preliminary bout will begin at 6:30 p.m. and the first main card fight will begin at 9 p.m.

The live SHOWTIME telecast of STRIKEFORCE: Henderson vs. Babalu will begin at 10 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the west coast).