From left to right: Akano, Tate, Damm, Kujala | Photo: Esther Lin/Strikeforce

Matchups were set Thursday in Phoenix for Strikeforce’s women’s welterweight tournament.

Hitomi Akano will face Carina Damm in the opening round, and Miesha Tate will fight Maiju Kujala. All four women made weight ahead of the single-elimination one-night tournament, which is part of the Strikeforce Challengers card airing live Friday on Showtime from the Dodge Theatre.

The fighters did not know their first-round matchups until they were drawn Thursday.

“We will go over (Kujala’s) weaknesses and make them fresh in my mind,” Tate said in a news release. “I don’t feel stressed. I feel great. I’ll get a little nervous, but I came here to do a job so it’s all business right now.”

Damm seemed content with her pairing against Akano.

“We have the same style, so it should be a good one,” Damm said. “I didn’t really care who I fight. Now that I know, I can focus more. The next 24 hours I will think only of fighting Akano.”

Strikeforce women’s welterweight champion Sarah Kaufman picked Tate and Akano to advance to the final.

“I think Miesha’s ground game is too strong and that she gets past Kujala,” Kaufman said. “In the first match I think it’s a toss-up, but I think Akano has a little bit more experience, so I think I’ll pick her.

“In the final it just really depends on what they do in their first fights. If it’s Akano vs. Tate, it’s a tough fight to call. It’s just too tough to call.”

In the main event, Joe Riggs and Louis Taylor will square off in a 182-pound catchweight bout. Ryan Couture, son of UFC great Randy Couture, is also on the card. He meets Lucas Stark in a lightweight bout.

Joe Riggs (181.6) vs. Louis Taylor (181.2)
Ryan Couture (155.6) vs. Lucas Stark (153.2)


Miesha Tate (134.2) vs. Maiju Kujala (134.4)
Carina Damm (134.8) vs. Hitomi Akano (135.0)

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