Strikeforce Challengers VI: "Kaufman vs. Hashi" is all set for this Friday night (Feb. 26) at the Civic Auditorium in San Jose, California. The five-fight main card will air live on the premium cable channel Showtime beginning at 11 p.m. ET on fight night.
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.
Journeyman Trevor Prangley, who has fought under sixteen different promotional banners, including the UFC, Bodog Fight, Strikeforce and others, will headline the event opposite dangerous M-1 Global up and comer Karl "Psycho" Amoussou, who has only lost twice thus far in his four year career.
The featured co-main event of the night will be the promotion's first ever female welterweight (135 lbs.) title bout between hard hitting Canadian Sarah Kaufman and Japanese standout Takayo Hashi.
Highly touted middleweight prospect Luke Rockhold - winner of five straight by first round submission under the Strikeforce banner - will is also slated for the card. He'll square off against "The Ultimate Fighter 7" original cast member Paul Bradley.
To help get you better prepared for the festivities, I've given my analysis and predictions for these three highly anticipated bouts set to hit the Showtime airwaves Friday night.
Check it out below:
Trevor Prangley (22-5) vs. Karl "Psycho" Amoussou (11-2-1)
"Psycho" is M-1 Global prospect getting a main event fight in his debut. The bad news for him is that he'll be facing Trevor Prangley, winner of eleven of his past twelve fights.
Both guys are well rounded. Prangley has a solid wrestling base, while Amoussou has a background in judo. They're both very good with submissions (offensively and defensively). They can both finish fights with their hands, and they both have deep gas tanks.
Prangley is slightly better in just about every one of those areas though, and that comes from his experience and level of competition. Amoussou has fought a couple of decent guys over in Europe, but nowhere near the level of Prangley, who has faced Chael Sonnen twice (win, loss), Andrei Semenov (win), Babalu Sobral (loss), Travis Lutter (win), Jeremy Horn (loss) and others.
Prangley has clearly been in some big fights, and being in the main event of a Showtime televised card isn't going to faze him in the slightest bit. The same can't be said with full confidence about Amousssou.
Look for Prangley to have the better gameplan execution on fight night because of this. I think timely takedowns and solid ground control win this one for the American.
Final Prediction: Trevor Prangley via unanimous decision.
Sarah Kaufman (10-0) vs. Takayo Hashi (12-1)
Kaufman is always fun to watch because she always looks like she's having a good time in the cage. Maybe that has something to do with the fact that she's always winning.
She earned her spot in Strikeforce's first ever 135 pound female title fight by winning back to back fights over a couple of well tested veterans in Miesha Tate and Shayna Baszler. And even though both of those fights went the full three rounds, the Canadian had stopped each of her previous eight opponents with strikes.
Hashi, on the other hand, is a grind-it-out type of fighter who will probably be looking to weather the early storm and ride the fight out into the championship rounds. She's a tough girl with a mean streak, and you can bet your wallet that she's not going to come over the the U.S. with a world title on the line in front of a Showtime audience and not bring her A game.
Kaufman definitely has a battle on her hands, and the deeper this fight goes into those championship rounds the better Hashi's chances get. Fortunately for the Kaufman though, I don't think this fight will see either of those rounds.
I actually think Kaufman is going to make a statement in this fight with a big knockout. She'll take a cautious approach early on, but once she gets comfortable in there, her killer instinct is going to take over. She's been on two previous Showtime cards, but this is by far her biggest opportunity to make a name for herself.
I think she does that and does it big.
Final Prediction: Sarah Kaufman via first round knockout.
Luke Rockhold (6-1) vs. Paul Bradley (12-1)
Rockhold will have his hometown fans behind him on Friday night, but I don't think he'll need much of the extra support to get by this TUF alum.
Bradley didn't really get a chance to show his skills on the reality show because he was sent home early with a medical issue. But this guy can actually fight. There's a reason he was originally selected to be on the show. He's well rounded, has good cardio and a decent amount of experience with twelve fights under his belt (nearly twice as many as Rockhold.)
However, Rockhold has been on fire under the Strikeforce banner, winning five straight by submission in the first round, including his two most recent wins over Corey Devela and Jesse Taylor.
And even though I like Bradley, I actually think both of those guys are better than him, even though him and Taylor are probably close.
The point is, this is Rockhold's fight to win or lose. If he comes out resembling anything close to the fighter we've seen over the last year then he should be able to handle Bradley.
Look for another submission win for the hometown guy, although this one may take him a bit longer.
Final Prediction: Luke Rockhold via submission in round two
That's a wrap.
Remember that MMAmania.com 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.