The Strikeforce Challengers series is back on Showtime this Friday night (July 22, 2011) at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada, for it's seventeenth event. It will be the first of four consecutive Challengers shows taking place at the "Pearl at the Palms."
Strikeforce Challengers 17: "Voelker vs. Bowling 3" will air live on the premium cable network, beginning at 11 p.m. ET.
Two of Strikeforce's top welterweight prospects, "Relentless" Roger Bowling and "Vicious" Bobby Voelker are set to headline the main event in a rubber match after splitting their first two meetings on previous Challengers shows.
Also on the card, top light heavyweight prospect Ovince St. Preux will try to move his Strikeforce record to 5-0 against the incredibly dangerous first round finisher and Duke Roufus product, Joe Cason.
The ladies will be represented as well with a very important divisional match-up in the women's 135-pound division as former Strikeforce champion Sarah Kaufman battles recent title challenger Liz Carmouche in a contest with serious title implications.
Heavy-handed heavyweight Lavar Johnson was expected to be on the rebound against Devin Cole, but a nagging knee injury forced him to back out of the fight late last night. In to replace him on extremely short notice is Shawn Jordan, a former LSU football player who recently fought at Bellator 45 in late May.
To prepare you Maniacs for Friday night's action, we've got the full fight breakdowns and predictions for the main card fights below.
170 lbs.: Bobby Voelker (23-8) vs. Roger Bowling (9-1)
This is a very intriguing trilogy after what happened the first two times out. Bowling took the first meeting after putting a thorough beating on Voelker before being accidentally poked in the eye in round three and being unable to continue. The judges ruled unanimously for the Ohio native via technical decision.
Voelker would get his revenge in the rematch. After again suffering a first round beating, he turned up the heat in round two and pounded Bowling, who had begun to fade after injuring his hand. Voelker eventually scored a technical knockout with a minute remaining in the second round.
Both men are very evenly matched, each hitting for power. Bowling's advantage is his incredibly strong start to fights. He crushed Voelker in the beginning of each fight as well as putting one of the nastiest first round poundings ever on Josh Thornburg this past March.
Voelker's biggest advantage is his endurance and his ability to take a punch. He was on the rebound against Bowling in the first fight before the accidental eye poke and he came back beautifully the second time around. If he can withstand the initial onslaught from Bowling, the fight is his. He might also be in Bowling's head after the stoppage victory in the last fight.
Prediction: Bobby Voelker via TKO in round three
135 lbs.: Sarah Kaufman (13-1) vs. Liz Carmouche (5-1)
Sarah Kaufman is on the warpath to get her title back and recent title challenger "Girl-Rilla" Liz Carmouche is standing in her way. The Canadian ex-champ looked unstoppable in the female 135 pound division before a dramatic comeback arm bar from Golden Glory submission expert Marloes Coenen halted her reign at the top.
Carmouche was in a similar position. After stepping up on short notice to challenge Coenen this past March, she dominated the champion for nearly three-plus rounds with wrestling, guard passing and ground and pound before being caught again in a dramatic triangle choke from the Dutch fighter.
Both fighters are very talented wrestlers, but Carmouche is incredibly strong and aggressive on the ground. She has the potential to overwhelm the former champion if and when the fight goes to the ground. In the stand-up, Kaufman has a serviceable technical edge and she could pick Carmouche apart with her jab and combinations. She doesn't have a ton of power in her strikes but she's smart and experienced enough to utilize her advantages.
Prediction: Sarah Kaufman via decision
205 lbs.: Ovince St. Preux (10-4) vs. Joe Cason (9-1)
This bout is a match-up of two incredibly talented light heavyweights. Ovince St. Preux made his mark in the promotion after three consecutive unanimous decision victories in seven weeks. "OSP" is athletic enough to be a former college football linebacker for Tennessee and technical enough to go for (and finish) rare submissions like a calf slicer.
He'll have his hands full with Joe Cason, an extremely dangerous prospect out of the infamous Rufousport Gym in Milwaukee. Cason has finished all nine of his career victories inside the first half of the first round, eight of them by strikes. That being said, there are still plenty of questions about him. His opponents have not only been supbar, they've been pretty horrible and the biggest win of his career was his last fight against UFC washout Sean Salman, a fighter who's currently riding a six fight losing streak.
Cason was knocked out in his only career fight to leave the first round. Look for St. Preux to frustrate him with his ever improving wrestling and top control and look for the finish as the fight enters the deeper waters. It's time to find out whether Cason is for real or not.
Prediction: Ovince St. Preux via submission in round three
265 lbs.: Devin Cole (18-9-1) vs. Shawn Jordan (10-2)
This will be a very interesting "grappler vs. striker" match-up as Devin Cole, the former IFL gatekeeper clashes with the heavy-handed Shawn Jordan. Cole is a pretty well-rounded fighter and his experience is nearly unmatched, having squared off with the likes of Rafael Cavalcante, Ben Rothwell, Jeff Monson and Mike Kyle in his 28 fight career.
He put up a tough fight against Daniel Cormier in his last bout, losing a decision where he was repeatedly outstruck for three straight rounds. Needless to say, Shawn Jordan hits a lot harder than Cormier so Cole will want to use division II All-American wrestling skills to get the fight to the ground and wear his opponent down.
Shawn Jordan is a former LSU special teams player and backup fullback for four years. He's big, strong and powerful and he wants to beat his opponent's face in. Jordan has seven career knockouts in his 10 total victories, but he's a bit of an enigma. He hits hard, but he's had his button pushed twice with two knockout losses in two minutes combined.
Cole likely doesn't have the power to put Jordan's lights out, but he's experienced enough and a strong enough wrestler to wear him down and grind out a decision victory. The fact that Jordan took this fight on just two days notice is commendable, but he likely will be out of gas after the first two minutes. If Cole can survive the early storm, this fight is his to lose.
Prediction: Devin Cole via decision
There isn't much info on either of these young middleweights. Neither has competed in a major promotion before although Stallings does train alongside some very tough guys under Lloyd Irvin. Stallings is dangerous both standing and on the ground, having nearly split his victories evenly with four TKOs and five submissions thus far in his career.
Amagov has never competed on American soil before, but he's a very aggressive finisher with his striking. His only career loss was via submission to tough Russian heavyweight Alexey Oleinik in his first professional fight, which is nothing to be ashamed of.
Regardless of who wins, this should be a great fight as both men only have two total decisions between them. Expect an action packed fight with most likely either a Stallings submission or an Amagov knockout at some point.
Prediction: Ronald Stallings via submission in round one
That's a wrap.
How about it Maniacs? Let's hear your picks for Friday night's Showtime event!