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Strikeforce Challengers 9 Preview and Predictions

After a couple of slow weekends in mixed martial arts, the action is starting to heat up again on Friday night with a Strikeforce Challengers 9 card on Showtime that features one of the most exciting young heavyweights in MMA and one of the best women's fights of the year. We've got the full preview and predictions below.

What: Strikeforce Challengers 9: Del Rosario vs. Mahe

Where: Comcast Arena, Everett, Washington

When: 11PM ET Friday

Predictions on the five televised fights:
Shane Del Rosario vs. Lolohea Mahe
Del Rosario is one of the sport's best heavyweight prospects, and a great finisher who's only gone into the second round once. It's a shame that Del Rosario has been lost in the morass that is the Strikeforce heavyweight division, as he deserves to be in bigger fights than Strikeforce has given him to date. I don't see Mahe lasting more than a few minutes with Del Rosario.
Pick: Del Rosario

Sarah Kaufman vs. Roxanne Modafferi
Give Strikeforce all the credit in the world for booking this fight quickly after Modafferi beat Tara LaRosa in May. The 11-0 Kaufman is the Strikeforce champion and the best 135-pound female fighter in the world, but Modafferi showed against LaRosa that she's worthy of a title shot. Kaufman has been criticized by some for being a little too cautious and willing to settle for decisions, but I think Modafferi will push her into a more action-packed fight, which should actually play to Kaufman's strengths as a striker.
Pick: Kaufman

Cory Devela vs. Bobby Voelker
Voelker is 21-8 in his pro MMA career, which raises the question of why his 30th professional fight is coming on a Challengers show, which is supposed to be for the young up-and-comers rather than the seasoned vets. But in any case, I like him to earn a TKO over Devela, who's 9-4 and hasn't won a fight in more than two years.
Pick: Voelker

Mike Kyle vs. Abongo Humphrey
Humphrey, who's best known for losing an exciting but sloppy brawl against Brett Rogers last year, isn't the most polished fighter around. But he's powerful and athletic and a good enough striker to knock Kyle out.
Pick: Humphrey

Caros Fodor vs. Thomas Diagne
Both of these guys are coming off losses, and neither one is quite the kind of high-quality prospect that you'd hope to see on a Challengers show, but Fodor is good enough on the ground that I expect him to take Diagne down and submit him.
Pick: Fodor

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