Lashley, Baroni face pivotal fights at “Titan Fighting Championship 17” LIVE tonight on HDNet

Plus, Abe Wagner meets Aaron Rosa – This Friday at 10:00 p.m. ET on HDNet

DALLAS (March 24, 2011) At first glance, Bobby Lashley (5-1) and Phil Baroni (13-13) don’t have much in common. Lashley is a highly touted heavyweight prospect, fast tracked for stardom as a former WWE superstar and only 27 months into his MMA journey. Baroni is a flamboyant veteran who has enjoyed a ten-year run as one of the most entertaining fighters in the sport.

Despite their differences, the two men have at least one thing in common: they both find themselves in must win situations this Friday night at “HDNet Fights: Titan Fighting Championship 17” set to broadcast LIVE on HDNet at 10:00 p.m. ET.

Lashley is looking to rebound after suffering his first career loss, albeit in controversial fashion, at “Strikeforce™: Houston” last August. The former WWE champion’s career has advanced slower than some expected as promoters are having difficulty finding quality opponents for the imposing heavyweight. Case in point:  Lashley was originally scheduled to face James Jack (6-2), but Jack went missing last week, forcing John Ott (9-7) to step in as a late replacement.

Lashley now needs an impressive victory over Ott to re-establish himself as top prospect in the heavyweight division.

Baroni finds himself in a similar situation following three consecutive losses in Strikeforce™ and the UFC. “The New York Bad Ass” needs a win over Nick Nolte (3-2) to revive his career. Another loss could spell the end of his run at MMA’s highest level

“Bobby Lashley and Phil Baroni both have something to prove and I expect fireworks this Friday night,” said Andrew Simon, CEO of HDNet Fights. “Although the MMA landscape is changing, HDNet will feature more MMA superstars this year than ever before!”

In the co-main event of the evening, Heavyweight prospects collide as Ultimate Fighter alum Abe Wagner (8-3) squares off with Strikeforce™ veteran Aaron Rosa (15-3). Wagner is looking to follow up on his impressive knockout victory over former UFC Heavyweight Champion Tim Sylvia at Titan Fighting Championship 16.

Eric Marriott (19-5) vs. Willian De Souza (3-1), Alonzo Martinez (28-14-1) vs. Aaron Derrow (9-2), and James Krause (11-3) vs. Nathan Schut (13-4) rounds out the main card.

The event is part of an action packed night of MMA programming on HDNet including:

  • ”The Voice vs. Wanderlei Silva” at 8:00 p.m. ET
  • ”Inside MMA” at 9:00 p.m. ET Phil Davis, Mike Dolce & Joe Riggs
  • “HDNet Fights:  Titan Fighting Championship 17” at 10:00 p.m. ET