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Strikeforce Challengers preview and quick picks for 'Woodley vs Bears'


An action packed month of November for mixed martial arts will keep rolling along this Friday night (November 20) with Strikeforce Challengers V on Showtime. "Woodley vs. Bears" is all set for Memorial Hall in Kansas City, Kansas, and the main card will air live on the premium cable network beginning at 11 p.m. ET.

Strikeforce Challenger Series 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.

The featured fight of the night is a battle between undefeated wrestling sensation Tyron "T-Wood" Woodley and winner of six straight, Rudy Bears. The female version of the main event for UFC 105 is also scheduled for this card as Kerry Vera and Kim Couture are set to clash in the co-main event.

Anderson Silva and Minotauro Nogueira protege and former Elite XC standout Rafael "Feijao" Cavalcante is also slated for competition, as he's set to square off against a very talented Aaron Rosa.

To help get you better prepared for the festivities, I've given my analysis and predictions for the three most anticipated bouts that are set to hit the Showtime airwaves Friday night.

Check it out below:

Tyron "T-Wood" Woodley (4-0) vs. Rudy Bears (13-5)

All 3 of Bears' professional losses have been by submission. All 5 of Woodley's professional wins have been by submission. Do the math.

Even though Woodley's jiu jitsu isn't necessarily at a world class level, the two-time All-American's wrestling and athleticism still put him in favorable positions to win by tapout, which is why he's registered a 100 percent rate of finish by submission.

In his last outing, the 27 year old faced a difficult challenge in the Tito Ortiz-trained and well experienced Zach Light. But just like in his 4 previous starts, Woodley demolished the veteran in less than 2 rounds. A ridiculous mixture of strength and speed make him one of the more explosive fighters, pound for pound, on the Strikeforce roster.

With that said, Rudy Bears is a tough fighter who's on a pretty nice hot streak right now, but the threat he poses to Tyron Woodley is a very small one.

His experience and recent wins over Brendan Seguin and Tim Worthington, who combined have 73 more fights under their belt than Woodley, create a slight area of concern for "T-Wood." He'll at least have to respect the fact that Bears has proven himself as of late.

For that reason, I see Woodley taking more of a cautious approach early on, similar to what he did against Light. He won't want to make any crucial mistakes early on that Bears could possibly capitalize on. He knows that if he stays patient and fights smart that eventually his athleticism and explosiveness should be enough to win him the fight.

Look for a repeat performance from his last time out ... Woodley by submission in round 2.

Final Prediction: Tyron "T-Wood" Woodley via submission in round 2.

Kerry Vera (1-0) vs. Kim "Sugar Free" Couture (1-1)

On the surface this looks like it's just one of those gimmick type fights for the fans to talk about, but you can be sure that both of these women are taking this thing very seriously.

Vera - wife of UFC light heavyweight Brandon "The Truth" Vera - made her professional MMA debut back in May under the Bellator Fighting Championships banner, out-pointing Leslie Smith for a unanimous decision win.

Couture - estranged wife of former UFC heavyweight and light heavyweight champion Randy "The Natural" Couture - is also coming into this fight off her first win, a first round knockout over Lina Kvokov almost one year ago to the day.

Both women have solid Muay Thai and kickboxing with improving jiu jitsu skills. Talent-wise this seems like a pretty even match-up, but I'm going with Couture because she seems to have the meaner, more aggressive style.   

Not only did she prove that she could dish out a beating when she toppled Kvokov last year, but she also proved that she could take one when she lasted a full three rounds against Kim Rose despite having her jaw broken in the opening minute of the fight.

Look for Couture to take this one by overpowering Vera, wearing her down, and then taking her out with strikes.

Final Prediction: Kim "Sugar Free" Couture via technical knockout in round 1.

Aaron Rosa (12-2) vs. Rafael "Feijao" Cavalcante (7-2)

"Feijao" was on the fast track to stardom after pulverizing three straight opponents under the Elite XC banner last year, but he was brutally derailed by Mike Kyle on the undercard portion of "Lawler vs. Shields" back in June - his debut for Strikeforce.

The loss was one of the more shocking outcomes in 2009 for all of MMA, and fans shouldn't be looking for that to become a trend. In actuality "Feijao" is still one of the best up and coming fighters not only in Strikeforce, but in the world.

He has devastating power and accuracy with his strikes that he's picked up from day to day training with Anderson Silva. And he's an intelligent fighter with solid grappling skills that he's picked up from day to day training with Nogueira.

He has all the tools to not only win this fight, but to become a force in the Strikeforce light heavyweight division.

With that said, I'm picking him to win this fight by technical knockout over Rosa.

Rosa has proven to be a talented mixed martial artist. Recent impressive wins over Ron Fields and Anthony Ruiz have done well to erase the memory of a disappointing end to 2007 and beginning to 2008 that saw him lose back to back fights to Jared Hamman and Jaime Fletcher, but Ron Fields and Anthony Ruiz, no disrespect, are not Rafael Cavalcante.

Cavalcante is a better striker, wrestler and jiu jitsu player than both of those guys and Aaron Rosa.

Still, this should be a competitive match early on. Rosa is an experienced fighter, meaning he'll be prepared for a difficult fight. And "Feijao" will certainly be looking to fight smarter and eliminate the mistakes he made against Kyle, meaning it may take him a round or so to get going.

Once "Feijao" does find that comfort zone though, and he will, it won't be long before he pounds out the former Tito Ortiz trainee.

Final Prediction: Rafael "Feijao" Cavalcante via technical knockout in round 2.

That's a wrap.

Remember that will provide live coverage of the main card beginning with the Showtime telecast at 11 p.m. ET as well as up to the minute results of the under card action beginning at around 9 p.m.

Check in early and often, it should be an exciting night of fights.

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