Strikeforce Challengers 16 to Feature Couture, Villante, Larkin

By Mike Whitman May 3, 2011
Ryan Couture will try for his third win as a professional on June 24. | Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com



The fight card for Strikeforce Challengers 16 has begun to take shape.

Going down June 24 at ShoWare Center in Kent, Wash., “Challengers 16” is expected to feature Ryan Couture fighting an opponent to be named, as well as a heavyweight tilt between prospects Gian Villante and Lorenz Larkin. Sherdog.com confirmed the date and matchups with multiple sources close to the event Tuesday after an initial report from MMAFighting.com.

Modern MMA’s most famous son, Couture is the offspring of recently retired UFC Hall of Famer Randy Couture. Though they share a last name, the younger Couture’s fighting style is quite different from his father’s. A jiu-jitsu specialist, Couture earned his first career victory at “Challengers 10” in August. The Xtreme Couture lightweight followed that victory with another win, showing improved standup before choking out Lee Higgins with only 19 seconds remaining in their February “Challengers 14” tussle.

Villante, a former Ring of Combat heavyweight champion, suffered his second career defeat in February at the hands of Chad Griggs. Though Villante stunned his foe early on with a head kick, Griggs surged ahead and finished the New Yorker by knockout late in the first round. A former standout linebacker and wrestler at Hofstra University, Villante owns five of his seven career victories by KO.

A powerful striker, Larkin is perfect through 10 professional outings. Most recently, the 24-year-old battered Scott Lighty at “Challengers 15” in April, earning a second-round TKO. Known as “The Monsoon,” Larkin has knocked out eight of his opponents since beginning his career in August 2009.

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