Strikeforce’s Challengers series of shows is their effort to showcase up and coming fighters who are working their way towards the larger events. Thus not everyone may be familiar with who these guys are. Here you will get the rundown on every fighter competing on the main card at Strikeforce Challengers 14, which takes place February 18th in Austin, Texas and will be broadcast live on Showtime.
Lyle Beerbohm vs Pat Healy
Lyle Beerbohm is 15-0 and rising fast through the ranks of the lightweight division. Beerbohm got his start in regional west coast promotions like Washington’s Xtreme Cage Combat before making his way onto Showtime via the now-defunct EliteXC’s own Challenger series. He has fought for Strikeforce before, but never on one of their televised cards; he will now be in the main event on Feb. 18th.
His last fight for Strikeforce was a victory over Vitor Ribeiro, and since then he has won two fights for local Washington organization Rumble on the Ridge, beating Josh Calvo and Talon Hoffman. Beerbohm seeks to prove he deserves to be considered as a contender among the best lightweights Strikeforce has to offer.
Pat Healy is more experienced with a 25-17 record, with a majority of his wins via submission. Healy previously had a fight at UFC Fight Night 6 in 2006 which he lost. He has since moved on to Strikeforce and his previous fight was actually on the televised portion of a main card.
After winning a decision over Bryan Travers in his Strikeforce Challengers debut last year, he was given a shot at former Lightweight Champion Josh Thomson on the Fedor vs. Werdum event but was submitted via rear-naked choke. Healy now hopes to rebound from that loss and return to the larger shows.
Ryan Couture vs Lee Higgins
Ryan Couture is the son of UFC Hall of Famer Randy Couture and fights in the lightweight division. Ryan’s sole professional fight was at Strikeforce Challengers 10 where he submitted Lucas Stark with a triangle choke a little over one minute into the bout. He now looks to continue building his own legacy.
Lee Higgins has twice as much experience as his opponent. Of course that only makes him 2-0. His first fight was for Texas promotion Worldwide Gladiator where he beat Kenny Burke and most recently he fought for another regional promotion called International Xtreme Fight Association, where he defeated Gilbert Jimenez. He now faces a prime opportunity to further his career on national television.
Ryan Larson vs Erik Apple
Ryan Larson has a 5-2 record with four of his wins by submission. Another local fighter, Larson’s career has been spent in Texas promotions like Renegades Extreme Fighting and King of Kombat. The last fight he won was at a KoK show where he had a first round submission victory over Anthony Macias, a veteran fighter who was famously suplexed by Dan Severn at UFC 4.
Unfortunately Larson followed that win up last year in the same organization by losing to Derrick Krantz via rear-naked choke in the opening round. He will now try to come back from that loss for his debut in Strikeforce’s welterweight division. Erik Apple has more experience at 10-2, and has once before been on the televised card of a Strikeforce Challengers show. In his debut for the promotion at Strikeforce Challengers 5 in 2009, he was defeated by Bobby Voelker. He has not fought since then but hopes to come back in 2011 with a win.
Bryan Travers vs Carlo Prater
Bryan Travers is 14-2 and while he has fought as high as middleweight, he is now trying to establish himself in the lightweight division. His unanimous decision win in California promotion War Gods over Tom Belt earned him a place on the televised card of Strikeforce Challengers 8 last year. He lost that fight to Pat Healy, who is now fighting in the main event on Feb. 18th. Another win in the California MMA scene, this time for The Warriors Cage over Rocky Johnson, has gotten him invited back again to fight on Showtime.
Carlo Prator is a veteran with 25 wins, 10 losses and a draw. Last year he participated in a single-night tournament for Shine Fights and although he lost in the opening round, he replaced his injured opponent in the next match and won; he made it to the final fight only to lose to Drew Fickett. He then went overseas and lost another fight against Reza Madadi in Sweden’s Superior Challenge organization. Prator needs a win in his first performance for Strikeforce to get his career back on track.
David Douglas vs Nick Gonzalez
David Douglas is 5-2 and all of his wins are knockouts. He has fought on Strikeforce cards before but never made the broadcast until now. His previous fight was at Strikeforce Challengers 11 where he scored a TKO victory over Dominic Clark.
Nick Gonzalez has the experience advantage over his opponent with a 16-8 record. He took part in Bellator’s inaugural featherweight tournament but didn’t make it past the first round. Following his unsuccessful time in Bellator he returned to local Texas organization King of Kombat where he was the reigning lightweight champion.
He fought KoK’s featherweight champion Dustin Neace to pick up a second belt and beat him so badly that Neace’s corner threw in the towel in the first round. Unfortunately for his next fight Gonzalez was knocked out by Anthony Morrison in Pennsylvania promotion Matrix Fights, though the result was later changed to a No Contest. He came back from that with a unanimous decision win over Tim Snyder in KoK. He now returns to the lightweight division again at Strikeforce Challengers. Expect a lot of cheers for Gonzalez: his hometown is where this event takes place.