Larkin Weathers Rossborough’s Strikeforce Challengers 19 Upset Bid


Lorenz Larkin can turn the tide of a fight with one blow. On Friday, he entered Nick Rossborough into evidence.

Larkin (12-0, 3-0 SF) survived a stern test from the game Jeremy Horn protégé, as he notched a hard-fought and well-earned unanimous decision in the Strikeforce “Challengers 19” headliner at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas. All three judges sided with the unbeaten Riverside, Calif., native: 30-27, 29-28 and 30-27.

A late replacement for the injured Virgil Zwicker, Rossborough (20-15, 0-1 SF) brought the fight to Larkin from the start. He battled for superior position in the clinch, utilized his dirty boxing and kept Larkin from striking at a distance. However, his outing unraveled inside the first minute of the third round, as Larkin delivered a crushing knee to Rossborough’s solar plexus and folded him where he stood.

Larkin -- who had scored mostly with leg kicks, punches to the body and sporadic combinations up to that point -- pounced and tried to finish. Though Rossborough defended and recovered, he was never the same. The air had been let out of the proverbial balloon. Later in round three, Larkin drew considerable blood with a short elbow strike from top position, as he kept Rossborough pinned to the canvas and accelerated the Utah-based light heavyweight’s fade down the stretch.

“I think he came to fight,” Larkin said. “That’s what I want. I couldn’t ask for nothing better. I love how he pushed me. This is where fighters show their heart.”

In the co-main event, heavyweight prospect Shawn Jordan submitted Lavar Johnson with a second-round keylock. The tapout came 3:08 into round two, as Jordan (12-3, 1-1 SF) recorded his first victory under the Strikeforce banner.

Jordan bullied his way into clinches, shook off Johnson’s considerable firepower -- smiling on occasion – and put the heavy-handed heavyweight on the ground three times. His hands made an appearance, as well, as he tagged his foe with a thudding left hand in the opening seconds that resulted in visible damage to Johnson’s right eye.

In the second round, Jordan made his move. He waded through heavy fire, pinned Johnson to the cage and scored with a powerful double-leg takedown. From there, Jordan softened Johnson (15-5, 3-2 SF) from the top, cinched the keylock and wrenched the submission for the tapout. Now based at Jackson’s Mixed Martial Arts in Albuquerque, N.M., Jordan has posted nine wins in his last 11 appearances.

“Working with guys who are real fighters, it’s great,” said Jordan, a gifted all-around athlete who won two national championships as a fullback with the LSU football team before he entered MMA. “It’s a different life.”

Meanwhile, Ryan Couture rebounded from his first professional defeat and captured a majority decision from Wand Fight Team representative Maka Watson in a lightweight showcase. Two of the three cageside judges scored it 29-28 in Couture’s favor; a third ruled it a 28-28 draw.

Couture (3-1 SF, 3-1 SF) controlled vast stretches of the match with takedowns and grappling. He routinely seized Watson’s back and threatened him with repeated arm-triangle and rear-naked chokes. Watson used his hands to fend of the submissions, but he remained on the defensive for much of the 15-minute encounter.

However, Watson (4-2, 0-2 SF) had his moments. He sprang to life late in the first round, slicing open Couture with an elbow to the forehead. The Hawaiian added another cut to Couture’s collection later in the fight, but he failed to turn the tide in his favor. Couture built a significant advantage on the ground, having mounted Watson in the first and third rounds.

“He’s tough as nails,” Couture said. “That was not that fun. I’ve still got a lot of work to do.”

Elsewhere, takedowns, top control, ground-and-pound and the occasional submission attempt carried American Top Team’s Jason High to his sixth consecutive victory, as he outpointed WEC veteran Todd Moore en route to a unanimous decision at 170 pounds. High (15-3, 2-0 SF) swept the scorecards by matching 30-27 counts.

Moore had no answer for High’s pace or takedowns. The 2009 Dream welterweight grand prix finalist mounted and threatened with an arm-triangle choke in the first round, scored with ground-and-pound in the second and opened a wicked vertical gash on the back of Moore’s head with an elbow in the third. Outside of a brief reversal into top position in round two, Moore (14-5, 1-1 SF) was never a factor in the match.

Finally, Bellator Fighting Championships veteran Brian Melancon dealt Brazilian prospect Felipe Portela his first career defeat and notched a unanimous decision in a featured welterweight matchup. Melancon (6-2, 1-1 SF) made a living on clean left hooks -- some to the body of Portela (7-1, 0-1 SF) and others to the head -- and timely takedowns. All three judges scored it for the Houston-based welterweight: 29-28, 29-28 and 30-27.

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