James Terry (above) will confront Nah-Shon Burrell on Jan. 7. | Photo: Jeff Sherwood
Seven fights have now been given the green light for Strikeforce “Rockhold vs. Jardine,” as promotion officials recently announced that Nah-Shon Burrell will face James Terry and Trevor Smith will square off with Gian Villante.
The welterweight and light heavyweight bouts will precede a five-fight main draw highlighted by the titular middleweight title clash between Luke Rockhold and Keith Jardine. Airing on premium cable network Showtime, the Jan. 7 event emanates from the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.
Just 21 years old, Burrell has only tasted defeat once as a professional. Representing the Fight Firm in Philadelphia, Burrell notched four wins in 2011, two of which came in the Strikeforce cage over Joe Ray and Lukasz Les. The welterweight has never been finished and owns all but one of his career wins by knockout.
Terry, 30, has won four of his last five. An eight-time Strikeforce veteran, Terry had a three-fight winning streak snapped by rising prospect Caros Fodor in June’s Challengers 16 headliner. The five-year pro rebounded from the loss, however, by knocking out Magno Almeida three months later at Challengers 19.
Smith has won five-straight fights heading into his showdown with Villante. The light heavyweight has emerged victorious in both of his Strikeforce appearances to-date, putting Keith Barry to sleep with a north-south choke at Challengers 16 before finishing T.J. Cook with a guillotine on Nov. 18.
Previously regarded as one of Strikeforce’s best heavyweight prospects, Villante made the cut to 205 pounds after suffering a February knockout loss to Chad Griggs. The Ring of Combat veteran was greeted rudely by Lorenz Larkin in his light heavyweight debut, as the unorthodox striker continually beat Villante to the punch en route to a unanimous decision win. Villante rebounded from his back-to-back losses by outpointing Keith Barry at Challengers 18 in August.