The eighth installment of the Strikeforce Challengers is set for this Friday night (May 21) at the Rose Garden Arena in Portland, Oregon. The five-fight main card will air live on the premium cable channel Showtime beginning at 11 p.m. ET on fight night.
Strikeforce Challengers serves as a proving ground to promote up-and-coming (and lesser known) fighters. The events are similar to what Elite XC used to promote with its SHO XC: "Challenger Series" on Showtime.
Portland native Matt "The Law" Lindland will look to get back into the win column after two straight losses when he squares off with young, up and coming jiu jitsu fighter "King" Kevin Casey in the night's main event. Tyron "T-Wood" Woodley will also be featured in the co-headliner opposite Nathan Coy.
To help get you better prepared for the festivities, I've given some analysis and predictions for the main card bouts that are set to hit the Showtime airwaves on Friday night.
185 lbs.: Matt "The Law" Lindland (21-7) vs. "King" Kevin Casey (3-1)
Casey is a young, strong, athletic Brazilian jiu jitsu fighter who honed his craft under the tutelage of Rickson Gracie. He's a regular on the grappling circuit, but he's still relatively green as a mixed martial artist.
That could certainly prove to be costly against a grizzled veteran like Lindland, but as "Jacare" Souza proved back in December by submitting "The Law" in the first round, youth and talent can overcome experience.
Lindland was dismantled in that fight, and the fact that he isn't anywhere close to the fighter he once was, was exposed big time. With that said, Casey isn't even in the same arena as "Jacare" as a mixed martial artist. He still has a lot more to prove.
The good news for him is that he has a great opportunity to do that in this fight. I just think it's a little bit too early for him to be facing a guy like Lindland, and I think he's going to struggle.
Lindland is battling for respect after losing three of his last four. I have a hard time picking a guy with only four pro fights on his record to come into a main event fight on Showtime and beat him in his hometown.
I think Lindland takes this guy to school early on and does enough damage in the first half of the fight to take the win on the scorecards. Cardio will probably be an issue for him and Casey's submission defense should hold up, but I still think he'll be able to hang on and grind out the decision with dominant positions and ground and pound.
Final prediction: Matt Lindland via decision.
170 lbs.: Tyron "T-Wood" Woodley (6-0) vs. Nathan Coy (8-2)
This will be Woodley's stiffest test to date. He'll also probably be facing the most hostile crowd he's seen so far as Coy is a hometown guy. However, I still don't see the outcome being any different than usual for "T-Wood." I expect the decorated collegiate wrestler to notch win number seven, and I expect it to be his seventh by submission as well.
Coy does have some nice momentum built up with three straight wins inside the first round, but he hasn't faced anybody as strong and explosive as Woodley yet. My money is on him be the one getting overwhelmed early on in this fight.
Coy likes to ground and pound his opponents and look for submissions. Now I'll admit that I haven't seen him fight many times, but I have seen Woodley fight. And that's good enough for me to believe Coy is going to have a good amount of difficulty pulling off that type of gameplan on Friday night.
"T-Wood" has the potential to be one of the next big stars in this sport. He improves every time we see him, and there's no reason to believe that won't continue to happen for the American Top Team trainee.
This is a fight that Woodley should win, and he will.
Final prediction: Tyron "T-Wood" Woodley via submission
170 lbs.: Roger Bowling (7-0) vs. Bobby Voelker (21-7)
This should be a fun fight for the fans. Both guys like to end fights with their hands, and both have a lot of confidence built up.
Voelker was on the winning end of an entertaining come from behind TKO win over Erik Apple his last time out for Strikeforce. Before that, he had won six of his previous eight with five TKO finishes. He's a battle tested veteran with good finishing ability, but he's going to be over-matched in this fight.
Bowling has demolished all seven of his professional opponents, and he's been waiting to finally get his chance to prove himself on a respectable stage. This is that chance for the heavy handed ex-boxer, and I don't think he's going to disappoint.
If Voelker had a stronger submission game, I'd give him a better chance to win because I'm not so sure about Bowling's ground defense. But he's a hitter, and that's going to play right into Bowling's hands ... literally.
I don't think that Voelker's length will be an issue. I think Bowling gets another early stoppage in a very entertaining stand-up fight for the Showtime audience.
Final prediction: Roger Bowling via technical knockout
170 lbs.: Nate Moore (6-1) vs. Tarec "Sponge" Saffiedine (8-2)
I like Nate Moore here. He trains with one of the best camps in the world at American Kickboxing Academy, which means he'll come in well prepared to win this fight on his feet against the Shihaishinkai Karate expert.
"Sponge" won't have a problem trading strikes, but I like Moore's power and aggression to be the difference on the feet. Tarec's karate training included a lot of judo and ground training as well. He has five career wins by submission, and I see that as being his best chance to score a victory.
I think Moore's takedown defense will hold up, though, and he'll either out-strike Saffiedine for a three round decision, or he'll connect on a left hook or something similar that will put the Belgium fighter to sleep. I like the AKA guy.
Final prediction: Nate Moore via technical knockout
155 lbs.: Pat "Bam Bam" Healy (22-15) and Bryan Travers (13-1)
Healy is another hometown Portland guy that will definitely have the crowd behind him on Friday night. Plus he's a veteran of nearly forty pro fights, with some big names on his resume. He'll definitely be on top of his game.
I still like Travers in this fight, though. I think he'll be too strong for "Bam Bam." He shouldn't have much trouble using his wrestling skills to get takedowns, maintain the top position on the floor, and score points with his ground and pound.
Four of his last five fights have gone to a decision, and I don't see Healy being very easy to finish off in his own backyard. I think Travers takes this one on the scorecards with some good positioning and ground and pound.
Final prediction: Bryan Travers via decision
That's a wrap. Sound off in the comments section below.