Jason High (top) has won four straight. | Photo: Daniel Herbertson/Sherdog.com
Sherdog.com staff and contributors put their reputations on the line with bold predictions for Strikeforce “Challengers 16” on Friday at the ShoWare Center in Kent, Wash. The event airs on Showtime at 11 p.m. ET and features a main event between lightweight prospects Caros Fodor and James Terry.
James Terry vs. Caros Fodor
Tomasz Marciniak: Fodor is an OK grappler, but I doubt his striking skills are on the same level as Terry’s. I think Terry keeps this one standing and punishes Fodor through the duration of their 15-minute bout to take a decision.
Tony Loiseleur: This one should be an interesting and close fight, though, for the moment, I’m leaning toward Terry, who has crisp, solid striking and should be difficult to take down. This should make things difficult for Fodor, as I expect him to close in with punches before clinching up and trying for the takedown, like in his last few fights. If he successfully gets Terry to the canvas, there’s a chance he could threaten him with submission attempts, punches and elbows. However, I have faith that Terry realizes this and will be ready to stuff takedowns or scramble to his feet, rather than play the ground game like Fodor will be looking to do; Terry by decision.
Rob King: Both guys are coming off nice performances at Strikeforce Challengers 15. You can tell Terry is a product of Cung Le’s teachings, showing off similar standup techniques, including rapid combos. Fodor has stronger jiu-jitsu and has the advantage should the fight hit the mat. Terry has really impressed me lately, though, and I like him to score a stoppage victory late in this fight.
Gian Villante vs. Lorenz Larkin
Guilherme Pinheiro: This is my favorite fight in the card. I’m not going to lie. Villante’s TKO loss to Chad Griggs has got me wondering about his true ceiling as a mixed martial artist. I know he is a natural 205-pounder, but I was surprised to see him being that reckless in the cage. To top things off, Larkin can hit pretty hard, which makes me worry about Villante. Still, I think Villante is the more complete fighter and I expect him to be smarter than his last fight. I’ll take Villante, with a close decision over Larkin.
Jordan Breen: This ball is in Villante’s court. If he uses his wrestling, he can put the one-dimensional Larkin on the floor, pummel him and potentially tap him. However, if Villante tries to play kickboxer, he’s up against a superior technician who has some really nasty aces up his sleeve. If Villante plays a smart game and puts Larkin on the floor, victory is his. Otherwise, he might end up on the painful end of a highlight reel.
Brian Knapp: These two light heavyweights have bright futures, but I believe Larkin has too much speed, power and experience for Villante at this point in their respective careers. Chad Griggs exposed massive defensive holes in Villante’s standup and game planning, and Larkin is an exceptional striker who can make him pay, as well. If he can avoid takedowns, I expect Larkin land a fight-altering blow during an exchange and perhaps finish it with punches and elbows on the ground.
Germaine de Randamie vs. Julia Budd
Tristen Critchfield: These two kickboxers should make for an explosive matchup while it lasts. Budd’s 14-second loss to Amanda Nunes doesn’t bode well for her against De Randamie, a highly touted prospect with dangerous knees. De Randamie finishes this one early in the first round.
Todd Martin: It will be interesting to see how the switch from kickboxing to MMA affects this rematch of former rivals. De Randamie’s vulnerability is on the ground, but Budd is heavily oriented towards striking herself. The ground game is a huge question mark, which makes De Randamie the pick on the basis of her standup ability.
Lutfi Sariahmed: The question is whether or not the Nunes KO was an anomaly or speaks to a hole in Budd’s game. If it’s the former, then we’ve got ourselves a good fight between two prospects at 135 pounds. If it’s the latter, then “The Iron Lady” will eventually stop this bout because her standup game is pretty impressive. I’ll take De Randamie to win.
Ryan Couture vs. Matt Ricehouse
Marciniak: Both fighters are very much works in progress, and it’s not easy to assess this matchup based on what little we’ve seen on them in the cage thus far. Couture has shown himself as a slick grappler, but should Ricehouse prove to be a superior striker, I’m not sold on Couture’s takedowns. I’ll hedge my bets on Couture working hard on that aspect of the game in camp and will pick him to win by submission.
Loiseleur: This should prove interesting given both fighters’ tendencies in the grappling department -- Couture with his slick jiu-jitsu and Ricehouse with his aggressive wrestling. I see Ricehouse likely charging in for takedowns, which Couture will probably welcome for the chance at reversals. Once it gets to the ground on his terms, I see Couture dominating positionally to give Ricehouse his first defeat, possibly by submission.
Freddie DeFreitas: I firmly believe managers and promoters in MMA need to take a good hard look at the young career of Couture and the careful effort spent in his development as an athlete while building off of his father’s name. Building a fighter is no easy task. However, boxing has done it for years, and the formula is tried, tested and true. In Ricehouse, Couture faces yet another opponent he should beat but one who offers a touch of risk. Expect another submission win for “The Natural 2.0,” as he closes in on matching his father, a virtual living legend, in that category.
Jason High vs. Quinn Mulhern
Pinheiro: Another good piece of matchmaking here. Mulhern is coming off an impressive seven-fight win streak in King of the Cage, beating UFC veteran Rich Clementi during that run. “The Kansas City Bandit” is coming off of his own four-fight win streak, but he’s done it against better competition. When I think about Mulhern, I think this is the case of a fighter being thrown against the upper level of competition for the first time in his career. I don’t think he succeeds. I believe High is the better fighter, and I’m picking him to win a decision.
King: I really, really like this fight. It would be the main event if I was in charge. High has fought much higher competition, and that could be the difference. Both guys are excellent on the ground, High with the edge in wrestling and Mulhern with the edge in jiu-jitsu, so this could be a case where both guys think they should keep it on their feet. And in that case, give me High. With the better standup and some takedowns, he’ll secure a decision.
Breen: A great, competitive bit of matchmaking here. However, as we found out in his fight with Andre Galvao, submission attempts don’t scare High. His chin might be a question (Marius Zaromskis, Jay Hieron) and he can be outwrestled by superior takedown artists (Charlie Brenneman), but this is a style that High can deal with well. Expect a tough, grinding fight from High, as he uses top position skills to earn the decision W.