We're just a little more than two weeks out from the April 11 unveiling of a brand new Strikeforce MMA on the premium cable network Showtime. And by the looks of the fight card, which was made official today, the San Jose-based mixed martial arts promotion is coming out with guns blazing.
At least five of the 40 or so professional fighters who had their contracts purchased just two short months ago from the now defunct Elite XC will be in action on the card, including undefeated heavyweight knockout machine Brett "The Grim" Rogers, whose match against fellow undefeated prospect, Ronald "Abongo" Humprey, was today made official.
Rogers made a name for himself fighting under the Elite XC banner last year, posting three straight first round knockouts over Ralph Kelly, James Thompson and Jon Murphy. The Team Bison product lobbied hard for a fight with Kimbo Slice following the Murphy fight in May, but never succeeded in convincing the promoters to book the match before the company went under in October 2008.
Humphrey was a participant on BET's reality series "Iron Ring" last year, and he won two fights on the show while being coached by UFC veteran Shonie Carter. The Atlanta, Georgia resident stands only 5'11" and will give up a full six inches in height to Rogers. However, he feels like he still has his advantages.
Here's a snip:
"Some people are under the impression that most of the fighters on the show were push overs, but I fought and defeated some pretty well-known contenders. I move more like a 205-pounder than I do a 245. I bring a lot of athleticism and skill into the cage."
In a combined 14 professional fights, nobody has ever made it out of the first round with either of these guys. So chances are somebody's likely going to sleep early in this one.
The main event will feature Brazilian jiu jitsu black belt Nick Diaz against former Strikeforce middleweight champion Frank Shamrock. A renewal of the classic Shamrock vs. Gracie rivalry that has been such a big part of MMA over the years should provide plenty of drama, as Diaz will look to avenge a 21-second knockout loss suffered by his trainer and mentor, Cesar Gracie, at the hands of Shamrock three years ago.
Company lightweight champion Josh "The Punk" Thomson will put his title on the line against former training partner Gilbert "El Nino" Melendez in the co-featured bout of the evening. The fight will mark The Punk's first official title defense since capturing the gold from his long-time friend last summer.
There's plenty of other exciting action on the card as well, including Cristiane "Cyborg" Santos, Benji "Razor" Radach, Scott "Hands of Steel" Smith and others.
Check out the full lineup below:
179 lbs.: Frank Shamrock (23-9-2) vs. Nick Diaz (18-7)
Main card (Televised):
155 lbs.: Strikeforce Lightweight Champion Josh "The Punk" Thomson (16-2) vs. Gilbert "El Nino" Melendez (14-2)
140 lbs.: Cristiane "Cyborg" Santos (6-1) vs. Hitomi "Girlfight Monster" Akano (14-5)
185 lbs.: Benji "Razor" Radach (19-4) vs. Scott "Hands of Steel" Smith (14-5)
265 lbs.: Brett "The Grim" Rogers (8-0) vs. Ron "Abongo" Humphrey (5-0)
Under card (May not be broadcast):
265 lbs.: Marcus "Beyond Normal" Royster (0-1) vs. Yohan Banks (2-1)
185 lbs.: Luke Rockhold (3-1) vs. Buck Meredith (3-2)
185 lbs.: Eric Lawson (8-2) vs. Richard Montoya (6-5)
185 lbs.: Raul Castillo (5-0) vs. Brandon Michaels (0-2)
170 lbs.: James Terry (5-1) vs. Zak Bucia (1-1)
135 lbs.: Jeremy Tavares (0-3) vs. Shingo Kohara (0-0)
The promotion will stick with its usual stomping grounds for perhaps the biggest event in its young history, returning to the HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif., for the first show of 2009. The main card will air live on Showtime beginning at 9 p.m. ET.
Remember that MMAmania.com will provide live coverage of the event, beginning with the Showtime telecast, and we'll include up to the minute undercard results, tool. Check in early and often on fight night!