Strikeforce Challengers Preview and Predictions

Lyle Fancy Pants BeerbohmJust six days after Antonio Silva beat Fedor Emelianenko in the main event of what may have been the most important fight card Strikeforce has put on to date, the promotion is back on Friday night with a much smaller, but nevertheless quite interesting, Challengers card on Friday night. We've got the preview to get you ready right here.

What: Strikeforce Challengers: Beerbohm vs. Healy

Where: Cedar Park Center, Austin, Texas

When: The Showtime televised card begins at 11 PM ET on Friday.

Predictions on the five televised fights below.

Lyle Beerbohm vs. Pat Healy
First, a question: What is this fight doing on a Challengers card? I thought the whole point of the Challengers cards was to give opportunities to young, inexperienced fighters. But these guys aren't really young and inexperienced. Between the 25-17 Healy and the 15-0 Beerbohm, these two have a total of 57 professional fights. That's more combined fights than Fedor Emelianenko and Antonio Silva have. I always enjoy the Challengers shows (I've never missed one), but I'm not quite clear on the distinction between the Challengers cards and the regular Strikeforce cards. I think they should all just be called Strikeforce.

That little diversion aside, I like this main event a lot. Beerbohm has one of the longest unbeaten streaks in MMA, but Healy, who has wins on his record over Carlos Condit, Paul Daley and Dan Hardy, is absolutely capable of beating him. I see a close, competitive, entertaining fight that Beerbohm wins in a close decision.
Pick: Beerbohm

Ryan Couture vs. Lee Higgins
The son of Randy gets a slight step up in quality of competition for his second pro fight, as Higgins has a 2-0 pro record and has submitted both of his opponents. (In his first pro fight, Couture whipped a guy whose career record is 2-5.) I don't know how much promise Couture really has for a long-term, successful MMA career, but I do think he's going to stay undefeated and win a TKO over Higgins.
Pick: Couture

Bryan Travers vs. Carlo Prater
Here's another fight that feels out of place on a Challengers show: Prater has been around for years, has 36 pro fights, and has beaten the likes of Melvin Guillard, Carlos Condit, Spencer Fisher and Pat Healy. Travers is 14-2 and lost to Healy in his last Strikeforce fight. Prater is a Brazilian jiu jitsu black belt who once looked like he was on his way to becoming a champion, but he hasn't looked good at all lately, and I like Travers to take him down at will and win a decision.
Pick: Travers

Erik Apple vs. Ryan Larson
Apple is finally ready to return to the cage for the first time since losing to Bobby Voelker on a 2009 Challengers card. Apple has a lot more experience than Larson and a much more sophisticated ground game, but Apple's record is just 1-2 in the last four years, and I have to figure he doesn't have much left.
Pick: Larson

David Douglas vs. Nick Gonzalez
Gonzalez is a lot more experienced than Douglas and has been more active recently, and although Douglas will have a significant height and reach advantage, I think Gonzalez can control him in the clinch and on the ground.
Pick: Gonzalez

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