The MMA live action has been a little quiet over the past few months. There's plenty of hype around the MMA world. We've had Tito Ortiz replace Phil Davis to face Rashad Evans in the next UFC Pay-Per-Views. Little Nog is out of his big match against Rich "Ace" Franklin. And now Alistair Overeem is out of the Strikeforce Grand Prix Tournament. So the news has been full, but our viewing pleasure has not.
Strikeforce is bringing us a Challengers show to give us some MMA.
Welterweight bout: Roger Bowling (9-1) vs. Bobby Voelker (23-8)
This is the rubber match between two well-fought fighters. Bowling's only loss was to Voelker. Bowling is 4 of his last 5, as opposed to Voelker's 3. Bowling is looking better in the momentum category. Both have the same percentage of TKO's in their total victories. I can see this being a good stand-up bout. I'm going to say Bowling second round by TKO.
Women's (135 lbs) bout: Liz Carmouche (5-1) vs. Sarah Kaufman (13-1)
This should be a really great fight. Kaufman's list of opponents makes me swoon (Miesha Tate & Roxanne Modafferi mostly), but one thing stands out to me. Kaufman has still never won a fight by submission. Matter of fact, her only loss came about via submission from Marloes Coenen. Carmouche has a ground game (even though it was her first pro fight and her only loss was also to Coenen). I love Sarah Kaufman and think she's a really good role model, and I say that as a parent who is very selective about who my daughter sees as a role model. But something tells me Carmouche walks away with a TKO in the second round.
Heavyweight bout: Devin Cole (18-9-1) vs. Lavar Johnson (15-4)
I would like to begin this saying that if my last name was Johnson, my nickname would SOOOOOOOOOO be "Big." Both fighters are coming off a loss: Cole to Grand Prix replacement Daniel Cormier and Johnson to Shane del Rosario. Johnson has won 4 out of his last 5, as opposed to Cole's 3. Lavar Johnson is a big guy that has always impressed me. He's made it to the third round once. I'm going with a TKO by Johnson in the first three minutes.
Light Heavyweight bout: Joe Cason (9-1) vs. Ovince St. Preux (10-4)
This is what Strikeforce Challengers Series is all about. Haitian OSP is a total beast. I live in total utter fear of him. He looks kind of like Bobby Lashley but with talent. There's just one tiny thing. One of his four wins in Strikeforce have been a finish. He's won three (very good, impressive) decisions, but up here at this level, he's struggled to finish off his opponents. Iowa resident Joe Cason is a total blue-chipper. He's never made it beyond 6 minutes in a fight. And he's gone beyond 2 minutes 1 other time. Cason has only fought in 2 states, and this will be his debut on a Zuffa stage. He's not fighting the best in Iowa. He's fighting the best in the world now. My major concern for Cason is conditioning. I am not going to doubt OSP. But this fight actually has me excited for this night. OSP TKO in the first round.
Middleweight bout: Ronald Stallings (9-3, 1 NC) vs. Adlan Amagov (7-1-1)
Both of these guys are established fighters but will be making their debut on a national stage. What stands out to me is that Stallings has lost one decision, and that is the only time he has ever made it the distance (and to the 3rd round). Stallings is a finisher with both TKO's and submissions, and I expect him to finish off Amagov with a submission in the second round.