Although the shows usually only make waves in certain circles, Strikeforce is set to hold its thirteenth “Challengers” event a little over a week from now, on January 7. Most MMA fans are focused on this week’s double-stuffed weekend, which will see the DREAM/K-1 super-show “DYNAMITE!! 2010” go down on New Year’s Eve, with UFC 125: “Resolution” airing live on Pay-Per-View the very next day. And while I too am pumped for the weekend’s festivities, I’m also very interested for “Strikeforce Challengers 13”. Don’t believe me? Wondering why? Here are five early reasons to be excited for the show.
5. Ovince St. Preux will try to prove once and for all that he belongs on the main stage. “OSP” is on a six-fight win-streak and most recently convincingly defeated Benjii Radach during the first televised encounter of Strikeforce’s “Henderson vs. Babalu 2” event. While certainly not a bad performance, St. Preux did underwhelm a bit, gassing himself out in Round 1 and then coasting towards a rather mundane Unanimous Decision win. Now that he’s back on a “Challengers” show, OSP should come out fiery and look to finish in order to once again prove that he belongs in big events against world-ready competition.
4. Tyrone Woodley vs. Tarec Saffiedine should be a great fight. This should be a memorable encounter for several reasons. While both men are relative newcomers to MMA, they’ve also shown a penchant for putting on very entertaining performances. Tyrone Woodley remains unbeaten, while Tarec Saffiedine is on a three-fight win-streak. Both men have a majority of their wins by submission, so we should be in for a fantastic ground war.
3. Former Olympian Rhadi Ferguson will make his Strikeforce debut. Whenever a high-level combat athlete transitions to MMA, it always gets people talking. There’s a good reason for that: not only is it incredibly nostalgic and fills our heads with memories of the first UFC tournaments and the glory days of PRIDE, it’s also very interesting to see how the fighters handle the transition. And Rhadi Ferguson is an Olympic-level judoka.
2. “Challengers 13” should see the continued ascension of Daniel Cormier. Daniel Cormier is an amazing athlete with near-unlimited potential. He’s a former Olympian, he trains at the American Kickboxing Academy, and he’s 6-0 with all wins by stoppage and five wins by strikes. At “Challengers 13”, Cormier will face wily veteran Devin Cole, whose recent loss snapped a five-fight win-streak that included four (T)KO victories. This should be a very interesting match between the smart veteran with big punching power and the upcoming prospect that can seemingly do no wrong.
And of course, my #1 reason to watch this show just had to be…
1. The quality of “Strikeforce Challengers” events in general continues to climb. I know I’ve said this in the past, but it continues to be the biggest reason to tune in to a “Strikeforce Challengers” event. It’s true that these shows are designed first and foremost to give Strikeforce newcomers their first taste of television, but that doesn’t mean that the fight quality is lacking. In particular, the last few “Strikeforce Challengers” events have seen an increase in match quality and have made for some pretty entertaining shows. And with the way “Challengers 13” is shaping up, that looks to be exactly the case for this card.
So there you have it, fans and friends: this show is definitely worth checking out. And what about you? What do you think of Strikeforce’s “Challengers 13” event?