The fourteenth edition of the Strikeforce Challengers series took place last night (Feb. 18) in Austin, Texas. The main even featured rising star Lyle "Fancy Pants" Beerbohm going toe-to-toe with hard-nosed veteran Pat "Bam Bam" Healy.
The event was packed with plenty of talent and even a few names you may have heard of, including Ryan Couture, son of MMA legend Randy Couture, while also featuring up-and-coming knockout artist David Douglas.
The evening did not disappoint with only one of the five main card fights making it to the judges scorecards.
Lyle Beerbohm and Pat Healy came into the main event of Strikeforce Challengers 14 and put on a fight worthy of their placement on the card. This was a back and forth war that was all grappling from start to finish and was fought at a pace that would make Diego Sanchez proud.
The undefeated "Fancy Pants" came out fast and scrambled his way out of every compromising position Healy could put him in. He took control early and worked his way to a solid first round. However, "Bam Bam" showed why experience against tough competition is invaluable.
He began to slowly wear Beerbohm down in the second frame thanks to his size and strength and nearly had the fight finished with a combination of an inverted triangle and kimura, both of which were locked in deep. Alas, Beerbohm was saved by the bell.
In the final frame, both men kept the amazing pace they set from the start and were trading off back and forth in the dominant position on the ground. Healy scored points with a rear naked choke that almost closed out the night, but Beerbohm showed why he was undefeated coming in and fought his way back to his feet.
Not to be denied, Healy landed some great jabs and hooks to close out the fight and took home the unanimous decision win. Beerbohm doesn't have a damn thing to be ashamed of though, and should get right back in against top competition. After all, he was just a few breaks away from taking home a "W" himself.
Instead of a rematch of this hotly contested bout, Healy has his mind on exacting revenge for his kin against the winner of the Billy Evangelista vs. Jorge Masvidal fight (both men previously defeated his brother). Either way, Strikeforce has two great fighters in Beerbohm and Healy and the future holds nothing but promise for all involved.
Speaking of the future, Ryan Couture proved his is as bright as they come.
He came out and showed he's more than just a pretty face and a famous last name. Couture dominated Lee Higgins from the blistering start to the spectacular end. He was relentless in his pursuit of a finish, nearly taking care of business in both the first and second rounds.
It was in the final frame that he was able to secure the tap-inducing rear naked choke.
Couture kept the fight on the feet early on and kept his opponent off balance by switching his stance and working in plenty of kicks. He rocked Higgins in the second, dropping him to the mat and nearly finishing by way of technical knockout. However, the third and final frame was where the "Lil' Natural" took care of business.
Could he be "Captain America" part deux? It certainly looks like he has all the makings of a future star.
Carlo "Neo" Prater, who was making his Strikeforce debut, put on an amazing performance against the heavily favored Bryan Travers, who came into the fight sporting an impressive 14-2 record. Prater, who was in the worst slump of his career, showed why every man is dangerous in this sport.
"Neo" came out strong and quick in the first stanza and dragged Travers to the mat before immediately locking in a tight D'Arce choke that spelled the end for the California native. Prater put his opponent to sleep and did so with authority. For Travers it's back to the drawing board, as this is just his third defeat in 17 professional fights. He's a talented fighter who should bounce back.
It was simply Carlo Prater's night and he made the most of his Strikeforce debut.
Ryan Larson walked into the cage last night as a man on a mission. He was out to show he belonged in Strikeforce while also trying not to disappoint the home town crowd.
Larson frustrated Erik Apple early with superior grappling and never let him get into any kind of rhythm. He earned an early take down and spent most of the first round on top working ground-n-pound. The second frame was much of the same; Larson got another good take down but this time he worked his way to the full mount and from there it was easy. He locked in a triangle choke and put Apple to sleep.
It was a great debut from Larson, who looks like he can make a lot of noise in the welterweight division.
Another fighter creating a stir is the Cesar Gracie trained David Douglas.
"Tarzan" went out and earned his nickname with a beast-mode performance against Nick Gonzalez in the opening fight of the main card. Douglas went out and did what he does best and threw hard and wild strikes putting Gonzalez on his heels. Once he landed a couple haymakers, Gonzalez was on borrowed time.
Douglas knocked him to the mat and began an onslaught of ground-n-pound, throwing hard powerful punches. At that point Douglas took Gonzalez's back, locked in a rear naked choke, and that was all she wrote, just two minutes into the first round.
This was an impressive performance from Douglas who for the first time in his career finished a fight by way of submission. Can this young gun become a force at 155-pounds?
That's a wrap for us, Maniacs.
Time for you to sound off in the comments section below. Give us your thoughts on yet another action-packed Strikeforce card. Anyone in particular you were impressed with?