Before Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez defends his title against Junior Dos Santos this weekend in the promotion's much anticipated debut on FOX, Shark Fights has a heavyweight title clash of its own going down in Lubbock, Texas, from Fair Park Coliseum later tonight (Fri., Nov. 11, 2011) .
The main event of the evening will feature Bobby Lashley taking on last minute replacement Karl Knothe for the Shark Fights vacant heavyweight title. After three opponents withdrew from their proposed title fight against the former Strikeforce heavyweight, the Texas-based promotion managed to find a late replacement in "The Original Son of Punishment" to step up on three days notice.
In other news, a light heavyweight title bout between Tony Bonello and David Roberts, which was to serve as co-main event, was scratched just yesterday. Shark Fights executive Wes Nolen told MMAmania.com, "The entire Bonello camp backed out of SF 21."
Therefore, heavyweights Cody East vs. Andenilson Clementino have been bumped up from the undercard to the evening's co-main event. In addition, the rest of the Shark Fights 21 is loaded with plenty of local talent who all hope to put on impressive showings to climb the organization's ranks.
Complete Shark Fights 21 preview after the jump:
Heavyweight championship: Bobby Lashley (6-1) vs. Karl Knothe (20-6)
After beginning his mixed martial arts (MMA) career with five straight victories, Lashley's undefeated streak came to an end when he was stopped by Chad Griggs at Strikeforce: "Houston" on Aug. 21, 2010. He was then released of his duties after compiling an uninspiring record (1-1) during his tenure.
Shortly thereafter, the former World Wrestling Entertainment star went back to his winning ways, defeating John Ott at Titan Fighting Championships before signing a three-fight deal with Shark Fights.
Knothe, meanwhile, is riding a 12-fight win streak that stems all the way back to 2007. As impressive as his streak may be, the Gorilla Combat representative has not seen action since knocking out Victor Valimaki in Dec. 2010.
Lashley, a former NAIA national wrestling champion, will look to utilize his wrestling skills and use his weight advantage to take down the undersized Knothe, who normally competes in the 205-pound division.
If Lashley can put his wrestling to use and control the fight on the ground, then "The Original Son of Punishment" will be in for a long night on his back. Both men will be battling ring rust -- Lashley has not seen action eight months and Knothe in 11. Having said that, cardio will be a big issue for the heavyweights if it goes into the later rounds. Knothe's best hopes will be to keep it standing and catch Lashley early on the feet, which has proven to be a weakness of the former Strikeforce heavyweight.
Co-main event: Cody East (0-0) vs. Andenilson Clementino (1-0)
In a battle of young up-and-coming heavyweights, Cody East and Andenilson Clementino will both look to take a step in the right direction with a victory.
East, who fights out of Albuquerque, N.M., will be making his pro MMA debut at Shark Fights 21. Fighting out of Wichita Falls, Texas, Clementino is one up on his counterpart, as he is undefeated (1-0) in his young MMA career. Making his debut at a King of the Cage event in April of this year, Andenilson earned the victory over Joel Traves by knocking him out in the second round.
Here is the rest of the card, which will showcase plenty of talent from the surrounding Texas area:
Cody Pfister vs. Isias Martinez
Gabe Vasquez vs. Warren Stewart
John King vs. Daniel De Almeida
Chase Watson vs. Orlando Coulter
Jeremiah Castillo vs. Jon Voth
Marcus Baldivia vs. Matt Hobar
Cody Pfister is no stranger to Shark Fights, competing in four events and has been successful in each outing. Pfister recently submitted Brian Castillo in the first round just last month. He will have his hands full as he takes on another Shark Fights veteran, Isias Martinez, whom is on a five-fight winning streak. Expect Isias to try to take it to the ground as he has won his last three bouts via submission, while Pfister's last two losses have come courtesy of the rear naked choke.
Warrant Stewart will look to add to his two-fight win streak as he takes on Gabe "Big Tyme" Vasquez who fights out of Amarillo, Texas, and has earned finishes in all of his victories. Look for an early knockout as both fighters like to stand and trade.
Submission specialist Daniel "Jacare" Almeida will look to add to his four-fight win streak, taking on John King who is coming off of two consecutive losses to Shark Fights veteran Josh Luna. It's no mystery that "Jacare" prefers the ground game, so look for him take it to the ground early as his last four victories have come via submission.
In a battle of light heavyweights, Orlando Coulter looks to stay undefeated as he takes on "Ruthless" Chase Watson, who looks to get back to the win column. Expect both to come out swinging to try and end the fight early as all of their victories have come via (technical) knockout.
Jeremiah Castillo and Jon Voth both try to reverse their fortunes as Castillo has lost his last three outings and Voth his previous two. Look for both fighters to come out aggressive to break their funk and get back to their winning ways. Expect this fight to hit the ground as four of their combined six wins have come via submission.
Marcus Baldivia will look to pick up his first mixed martial arts win in his young career as he draws undefeated Matt Hobar who is hungry to make it four straight and three for three in Shark Fights. Hobar's last two outings have been with the Shark Fights organization. Look for a fast paced match that can end anywhere, as Hobar has proven he can finish on the ground and on his feet.
Shark Fights 21 will air via tape delay on Fuel TV on Dec. 23, 2011.
So what do you think: Will Lashley pick up another much needed win on his path back to the big show this weekend? Or will the relatively unknown Knothe upset the wrestling behemoth in hopes of making a name for himself?