The Strikeforce Challengers series is back on Showtime tonight (September 23, 2011) at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada, for its nineteenth event. After an inaugural run on July 22, 2011, this will be the third time the series has traveled to the Pearl at the Palms.
Strikeforce Challengers 19: "Larkin vs. Rossborough" will air live on the premium cable network, beginning at 11 p.m. ET.
Light heavyweight Lorenz Larkin will be headlining the event against the fearless Nick Rossborough. Rossborough normally fights at middleweight but stepped up on short notice to take on the undefeated Larkin. This will be the battle of a striker (Larkin) versus a striker-grappler (Rossborough).
155-pound prospect Ryan Couture will look to get back to his winning ways against Maka Watson. Brian Melancon will also be looking to rebound from a tough loss against untested Brazilian prospect Felipe Portela.
To prepare you Maniacs for tonight's action, we've got the full fight breakdowns and predictions for the main card fights below.
205 lbs.: Lorenz Larkin (11-0) vs. Nick Rossborough (20-14)
This bout is a lot less interesting than the original main event between Larkin and Virgil Zwicker, but it could still bring some fireworks.
Larkin is an absolute dynamo with his striking, one of the most entertaining young light heavyweights on the planet. He can hurt you with kicks, knees, elbows and punches and he can do it from any direction.
While Rossborough's record isn't very good, he's been on a nice streak having won seven of eight fights. Despite coming up from middleweight to take this bout, he's actually taller than "The Monsoon" and barely made the 206 pound limit at the weigh-ins yesterday.
Larkin will try to really utilize his footwork, find his distance and punish Rossborough while "Leatherface" will try to close the distance, potentially even take the fight to the ground where he's finished most of his career fights by submission. My money's on Larkin though.
Prediction: Lorenz Larkin via technical knockout in round two
265 lbs.: Lavar Johnson (15-4) vs. Shawn Jordan (11-3)
Both of these boys are very big and hit very hard. Johnson was a veteran of the WEC and Strikeforce, having previously gone on a seven fight win streak in which he knocked out all seven of his opponents.
Jordan is a former LSU fullback and brings some serious athleticism to the cage. He showcased immense strength in his last fight against Devin Cole but wilted under against Cole's cardio machine as the fight progressed despite hurting him multiple times
This bout will come down to whoever gets hit the hardest first, and Johnson's experience on the big stage should allow him to propel himself to victory, but don't be shocked if Jordan pulls the upset.
Prediction: Lavar Johnson via knockout in round one
155 lbs.: Ryan Couture (2-1) vs. Maka Watson (4-1)
This fight is the perfect test for upstart Ryan Couture. He got a little too much to handle in his last bout against tough grappler and striker Matt Ricehouse.
Couture is a talented Brazilian jiu-jitsu player with a knack for submissions but he's also been working on steadily improving his all-around game. He's got pretty solid wrestling and his striking has come along.
His opponent, Maka Watson, returned from a three year layoff to lose at a Strikeforce Challengers event earlier this year. He's a submission fighter in his own right and is capable with his hands.
Watson looked pretty rusty in his last fight and unless he's shaken it off by the time he steps in the cage tonight, Couture should handle him.
Prediction: Ryan Couture via decision
170 lbs.: Jason High (14-3) vs. Todd Moore (14-4)
Jason High is a fighter out Kansas City with a strong wrestling base and a knack for submissions on the ground. His opponent, Todd Moore, is tough, but has yet to defeat an opponent with a big name, having fallen previously to the likes of Shinya Aoki, Shane Roller and fellow Strikeforce Challengers fighter Brian Melancon via stoppage.
While High is more of a wrestler-submission fighter, Moore will be going for the knockout pretty hard. High has some very solid wrestling and that should be able to carry him to victory at some point in this fight.
Prediction: Jason High via submission in round one
170 lbs.: Brian Melancon (5-2) vs. Felipe Portela (7-0)
Brian Melancon is basically a lightweight that got too big for his weight class. He hits very hard, has a decent wrestling base and is incredibly strong. He's coming off a close split decision loss to Isaac Vallie-Flagg this past June on the Strikeforce: Overeem vs. Werdum event that I felt he should have won.
Felipe Portela is a bit of a mystery. He's a Brazilian with a strong submission game and trains out of The Arena alongside MMA fighters like Joe Duarte and Chris Cope. If he can catch Melancon with something, he very well could end this fight with a submission, but it will be difficult to keep something latched on because of Melancon's brute strength.
Melancon does not have terrific cardio so if this bout goes past the second round, Portela could have the stage set for a dramatic comeback.
Prediction: Brian Melancon via TKO in round two
That's a wrap.
How about it Maniacs? Let's hear your picks for tonight's Showtime event!