What are your predictions for UFC 128?

We contacted Pete Spratt, Tim Kennedy, Adam Schindler, Andrew Chappelle and Ryan Larson and asked the question: “What are your predictions for UFC 128?” Here’s their predictions…

Pete Spratt: Bones Jones – due to his size, speed and athleticism.
Miller – due to his vast UFC experience.
This will be Kamal’s 1st time in the UFC.

Tim Kennedy: Jones by just being awesome and Kamal by sprawl and brawl dec.

Adam Schindler: I’m going with Jon Jones with a TKO in the 3rd… He is in great condition, unorthodox and long, has great wrestling. I could see Shogun coming out on top too but I’m going with ‘Bones’ Jones on this one.Man, I really don’t want to pick against Kamal, but this one is tough…. I really like Jim Miller and I think he is much better than Jamie Varner or Bart Palaszewski… He has great submissions and good crisp boxing. That being said, I think it will only go to the ground if Kamal chooses. If he can catch him with a shot he wins, if not, I think Miller out points him on the feet… Either way, I’ll definitely Be Rooting for one of those Big overhands from Kamal to land cleanly!

Andrew Chappelle: I’m going with Jones and Miller. I think they are all really good but Jones is just such a stud! He has been blowing through game opponents like he was a varsity athlete senior beating up a brand new freshman. He’s special in the aspect that he is just superior over guys who are on already on top. I think his strikes will be land more, and be more effective, his greco is solid, and I do not see Rua taking Jones down, and even though it’s hard to say who would be better on the ground technically, you still have to give Jones the edge because he is such a freakish athlete.Miller is a stud. Mean, in shape, technically sound. I like Kamal as well. He is also a stud, but I just don’t think he has the tools to finish and dominate like Miller does. I am sure they will both be in excellent conditioning, I see Miller having the better endurance. Miller has more technique in all aspects of the game and is just as good of an explosive athlete as Kamal and can go longer.

Ryan Larson: Jon Jones is gonna shock the world, rd 3, tko. Jons reach and wrestling will confuse Shogun who will not be able to work offensively.
Kamal Shalorus is gonna wreck Jim Miller, rd 1, tko. Kamal always blitzes guys early and he is very prepared for this fight. I expect him to overwhelm Jim and crack him early.

—So what are your predictions for UFC 128?

Main CardMauricio “Shogun” Rua (205) vs. Jon Jones (205)Urijah Faber (135.5) vs. Eddie Wineland (135.5)Nate Marquardt (186) vs. Dan Miller (185)Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic (229) vs. Brendan Schaub (245)Jim Miller (155) vs. Kamal Shalorus (155)Preliminary CardLuiz Cane (205.5) vs. Eliot Marshall (205)Edson Barboza (155.5) vs. Anthony Njokuani (155)Ricardo Almeida (170) vs. Mike Pyle (171)Kurt Pellegrino (156) vs. Gleison Tibau (155)Joseph Benavidez (136) vs. Ian Loveland (135)Nick Catone (194) vs. Costantinos Philippou (195)Raphael Assuncao (145) vs. Erik Koch (145)

PAT “BAM BAM’’ HEALY DEALS LYLE “FANCY PANTS’’ BEERBOHM HIS FIRST LOSS IN STRIKEFORCE CHALLENGERS

PRESS RELEASE: CEDAR PARK, Texas (Feb. 19, 2011)

Friday, Feb. 18, Live on SHOWTIME® From Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, Texas,
Catch Replay on Tuesday, Feb. 22, on SHO EXTREME at 10 p.m. ET/PT

RYAN COUTURE IMPROVES TO 2-0; PRATER,
LARSON, TARZAN ALSO TRIUMPHANT

CEDAR PARK, Texas (Feb. 19, 2011) – In a hotly contested fight, Pat “Bam Bam’’ Healy of Portland, Ore., registered a razor-thin, unanimous three-round decision over previously unbeaten Lyle “Fancy Pants” Beerbohm of Spokane, Wash., in the main event Friday on STRIKEFORCE Challengers at Cedar Park Center live on SHOWTIME®.

Photos: Esther Lin/STRIKEFORCE

In other results on the televised portion of a STRIKEFORCE Challengers event presented by Rockstar Energy Drink: Carlo “Neo’’ Prater (26-10-1), of Houston, Texas, submitted Bryan Travers (14-3), of San Jose, Calif., with an anaconda choke at 38 seconds in the first round in a catchweight bout at 160 pounds, unbeaten lightweight Ryan Couture (2-0), of Las Vegas, the son of MMA legend Randy Couture, submitted (rear-naked choke) Houston’s Lee Higgins (2-1) at 4:41 in the third round; local favorite Ryan Larson (6-2), of Albuquerque, N.M., submitted (triangle choke) Erik Apple (10-3), of Orange County, Calif., at 3:14 of the second round in a welterweight (170 pounds) skirmish and David “Tarzan’’ Douglas (7-2) of Antioch, Calif., submitted (rear-naked choke) Austin fan favorite Nick “The Ghost’’ Gonzalez (16-9, 1 NC) at 1:05 in the first round.

The victorious Healy (25-18) won by the scores of 29-28 on the three judges’ scorecards while Beerbohm dropped to 15-1.

“He talked a lot of trash, but if he wants a rematch, I’ll give him one anytime,’’ said Healy, who pushed former STRIKEFORCE World Lightweight Champion Josh Thomson to the brink before losing his last start on June 26, 2010, on SHOWTIME.

“Beerbohm fought a good fight but I think I outworked and outhustled him. I’d like to fight the winner of the March 5 fight between Billy Evangelista and Jorge Masvidal.’’

A member of Team Quest, Healy has won four of his last five fights and seven of nine. In a 10-year career, he’s defeated several big-name, quality opponents including Paul “Semtex’’ Daley, Carlos Condit and Dan Hardy.

Beerbohm, who not only suffered his first pro defeat but first ever in Mixed Martial Arts – he was 8-0 as an amateur — felt he’d done enough to get his hand raised.

“I definitely thought I won,’’ he said. “I thought going into the third we’d each won a round, but I definitely thought I won that last round. I took the fight to him from the start. But that’s what happens when you let it go to the hands of the judges.’’

The quick victory ended a two-fight losing streak for Prater, who’d also dropped four out of five. He used his Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu to take down Travers, and moments later it was over.

“My record shows I’m not a perfect fighter, but when you’re down you get up,’’ Prater said. “This was a good win, I’ll get better off this fight, but I’ll be right back in the gym soon.’’

Travers had won seven of eight going in. A six-fight winning streak was snapped when he lost a decision to Healy on STRIKEFORCE Challengers on May 21, 2010, in Portland, Ore., on SHOWTIME.

Couture, who turned pro for STRIKEFORCE on Aug. 13, 2010, is one of the most promising prospects in MMA, but he had to work to get the victory against a game Higgins.

“It felt good to be in there,’’ Couture said, “but the guy was tough as nails. I’m real glad I was able to get him there at the end. For the most part I was happy with my standup and getting almost 15 minutes in there was good.’’

In a battle of wrestlers, the well-conditioned Larson controlled the action from the outset against Apple, who was competing for the first time since Nov. 20, 2009.

“I think the key was to come out fast and dictate the pace,’’ said Larson, a member of Relson Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Austin. “It’s like a dream come true to fight for STRIKEFORCE and to win in my hometown.’’

Tarzan, a member of Cesar Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, dominated en route to winning his seventh fight inside the distance. The Ghostbuster, Douglas was the aggressor from the outset. He dropped Gonzalez with an overhand right followed by a left hook at about the 0:35 mark. He continued the punishment until the referee stopped matters.

“I wanted to show my Jiu-Jitsu skills,’’ said Douglas after outclassing the more experienced, local fan favorite. “Everyone says they never see my Jiu-Jitsu so I wanted to showcase them to the crowd. I do what they tell me. I’ll fight anybody. I feel most comfortable at 155 pounds. When I’m healthy, no one can beat me.’’

In Friday’s non-televised bouts, Aaron Lan Franco (2-0), of Austin, TKO 1 (punches, 4:22) over Thomas Diagne (1-3), of San Jose, at 155 pounds and in an all-Austin affair, Drew Pendleton (3-0) submitted (guillotine choke) Dennis Dombrow (2-1) at 2:38 of the second round at 145 pounds.

Friday’s event will re-air as follows:

DAY CHANNEL
Tuesday, Feb. 22, at 10 p.m. ET/PT SHO EXTREME

The telecast also will be available On Demand beginning Monday, Feb. 21, and running through March 6.

Mauro Ranallo called the action on SHOWTIME with The Fight Professor, Stephen Quadros, and MMA legend Pat Miletich serving as expert analysts.

Upcoming STRIKEFORCE Event on SHOWTIME: Saturday, March 5, World Championship Doubleheader – Dan Henderson (26-8) challenges defending champion Rafael “Feijao’’ Cavalcante (10-2) for the STRIKEFORCE World Light Heavyweight (205 pounds) Championship at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio, at 10 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the West Coast). In a second world title fight, Marloes “Rumina’’ Coenen (18-4) risks her STRIKEFORCE lightweight title for a first time against No. 1-ranked 135-pound contender, Miesha “Takedown’’ Tate (11-2), of Tacoma, Wash. Also, American military hero Tim Kennedy (12-3) vs. Melvin “No Mercy’’ Manhoef (24-8-1), middleweights; and undefeated Billy Evangelista (11-0) vs. Jorge Masvidal (20-6), lightweights. The event, STRIKEFORCE’s first in the state of Ohio, will take place in conjunction with The Arnold Sports Festival, the nation’s largest health and fitness exposition founded by Arnold Schwarzenegger.

For more information on SHOWTIME Sports, including exclusive video, photos and news links on SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING and STRIKEFORCE mixed martial arts telecasts, along with access to the SHOWTIME Sports Facebook® and Twitter® pages, please go to Sports.Sho.com.

PRESS RELEASE: Three more EXCITING FIGHTS added to STRIKEFORCE Challengers Texas

PRESS RELEASE: NEW YORK (Feb. 14, 2011)

THREE MORE EXCITING FIGHTS ROUND OUT
STRIKEFORCE CHALLENGERS EVENT
AT CEDAR PARK CENTER IN CEDAR PARK, TEXAS,
THIS FRIDAY, FEB. 18, LIVE ON SHOWTIME®

Matchups Pit California Fighters Bryan Travers, Erik Apple, Tarzan Douglas,
Against Texas’ Carlo Prater, Ryan Larson, Nick Gonzalez, Respectively

NEW YORK (Feb. 14, 2011) – Bryan Travers (14-2), of Bakersfield, Calif., takes on Carlo “Neo’’ Prater (25-10-1) of Bryan, Texas, at a catch weight of 160 pounds, Erik “Bad’’ Apple (10-2), of Laguna Niguel, Calif., will be opposed by local favorite Ryan Larson (5-2), of Austin, Texas, in a welterweight (170 pounds) skirmish and David “Tarzan’’ Douglas (5-2) of Antioch, Calif., takes on Austin fan favorite Nick “The Ghost’’ Gonzalez (16-8, 1 NC) at 150 pounds in featured bouts of a STRIKEFORCE Challengers fight card presented by Rockstar Energy Drink at Cedar Park Center in the Austin suburb of Cedar Park, Texas, this Friday, Feb. 18, live on SHOWTIME® at 11 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the West Coast).

In the main event, unbeaten rising star Lyle “Fancy Pants” Beerbohm (15-0) of Spokane, Wash., takes on dangerous veteran Pat “Bam Bam’’ Healy (25-17) of St. Louis. Unbeaten lightweights Ryan Couture (1-0), of Las Vegas, the son of MMA legend Randy Couture, and Houston’s Lee Higgins (2-0) will clash in another televised fight.

Tickets for STRIKEFORCE’s third event in 21 days and second in the Lone Star State are on sale at Cedar Park Center ticket office, all Ticketmaster locations (800) 745-3000, Ticketmaster online (www.ticketmaster.com) and STRIKEFORCE’s official website (www.strikeforce.com).

The first non-televised, undercard fight will begin at 8 p.m. CT. Doors will open at 7:15 p.m.
The Californians, Travers, Apple and Douglas will be making their second starts on a STRIKEFORCE Challengers card while the Texans, Prater and Larson will be making their debuts for the San Jose, Calif.-based MMA promotion. Gonzalez will be fighting for STRIKEFORCE for a second time.

A winner in seven of his last eight, the 5-foot-10, 27-year-old Travers is a terrific wrestler who unanimously outpointed Rocky Johnson on Aug. 27, 2010. Travers’ six-fight winning streak was ended in his outing before last by “Bam Bam’’ Healy, who won a decision during a Challengers event May 21, 2010, in Portland, Ore., on SHOWTIME. Travers’ most noteworthy triumph was a unanimous decision over former UFC and IFL vet John Gunderson in May ‘09.

Prater is an eight-year pro and former WEC title challenger. The 6-foot, 29-year-old, who’ll be looking to regain his winning ways in this one, was victorious in his initial 10 starts after turning pro in November ‘02. Last Sept. 10, Prater fought three times during a single-night tournament.

Apple is a skilled wrestler who is gigantic for the division. This will be the 6-footer’s first assignment since a second-round TKO loss (punches) to Bobby Voelker on STRIKEFORCE Challengers on Nov. 20, 2009, on SHOWTIME. In his outing before last, Apple submitted then-highly touted Matt Makowski on Sept. 26, 2008.

Larson, a product of Relson Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Austin, has won by first-round submission in all but one of his victories. A pro since Feb. 10, 2006, he split his two outings in 2010, winning by first-round submission (rear-naked choke) over Anthony Macias on Feb. 27, and losing by an identical result to Derrick Hantz in his last fight on Aug. 20.

Douglas, a member of Cesar Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, is a 5-foot-11 non-stop action fighter who has won five out of six, including a second-round TKO (punches) over Dominic Clark in a non-televised match on a STRIKEFORCE Challengers event last Oct. 22 in Fresno, Calif.

Douglas’ most memorable win came against Mongkhon Wiwasuk, aka Malaipet, a Lumpinee Stadium Muay Thai champ in Thailand and an extremely dangerous striker, on Sept. 26, 2008, at Santa Ynez, Calif. He rallied to triumph by third-round TKO (punches) in a brawl that featured numerous changes in momentum, exceeded all expectations and, for sheer excitement, was as good as it gets.

Gonzalez is vastly more experienced than Douglas and has fought, among others, former STRIKEFORCE World Lightweight Champion Josh Thomson (June 26, 2007, on the undercard of Shamrock-Baroni in San Jose) and Yves Edwards on July 26, 2008. A winner by unanimous decision over Tim Snyder in his last start on Aug. 20, 2010, the 5-foot-6 Gonzalez is 2-0 with one No-Contest dating to August 2009.

The non-televised bouts will feature three promising fighters from Austin: Aaron Lan Franco
(1-0), of Austin, meets Thomas Diagne (1-2), of San Jose, at 155 pounds and in an all-Austin affair of unbeatens, Drew Pendleton (2-0) will be opposed by Dennis Dombrow (2-0) at 145.

About STRIKEFORCE
STRIKEFORCE is a world-class mixed martial arts cage fight promotion which, on Friday, March 10, 2006, made history with its “Shamrock vs. Gracie” event, the first sanctioned mixed martial arts fight card in California state history. The star-studded extravaganza, which pitted legendary champion Frank Shamrock against Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt Cesar Gracie at San Jose’s HP Pavilion, played host to a sold-out, record crowd of 18,265. Since 1995, STRIKEFORCE, sanctioned by ISKA, has been the exclusive provider of martial arts programming for ESPN and, after 12 years of success as a leading, world championship kickboxing promotion, the company unveiled its mixed martial arts (MMA) series with “Shamrock vs. Gracie.” In May 2008, West Coast Productions, the parent company of STRIKEFORCE, partnered with Silicon Valley Sports & Entertainment (SVS&E), an entity created in 2000 to oversee all business operation aspects of the San Jose Sharks and HP Pavilion at San Jose. In March 2009, STRIKEFORCE signed a multi-year agreement with SHOWTIME® to stage live events on the premium cable television network. The promotion has since also produced two live, primetime events on the CBS Television Network.

Interview with Ryan Larson “…Fighting’s a crazy game”

I was fortunate to catch up with Ryan Larson (6-2) who has been getting ready @ Jacksons MMA in Albuquerque, NM to make his STRIKEFORCE Challengers Debut. I actually had to pull over to continue with this, so hang on, sit down and read on!!!

Erik Apple: left; Ryan Larson: right

sPidA: Ryan, how are you bro? Hope not to take too much of your time… I do appreciate this.

Ryan Larson: Not at all, I really do appreciate you interviewing me,thank you for that.

sPidA: Are you training at Rodrigo Pinheiro’s gym with Pete Spratt?

Ryan Larson: I live in San Aantonio and I train out of Pineiro’s Gym, just wanted to concentrate on nothing but MMA with no distractions. Just eat, sleep and train you know. So I’m in Jacksons Camp right now.

sPidA: Thats awesome, any names you can throw at us, maybe some of the guys you’ve been training with since you’ve been there?

Ryan Larson: Awe man, lets see, I was training with George St Pierre this moring but also Carlos Condit, Melvin Guillard, Diego Sanchez. Also Cowboy and Jon Jones who both fought at UFC 129 (they both won).

sPidA: Wow! Nice bro, I know they’re all in Jacksons Camp but didnt think people could actually get to train with all of them.

Ryan Larson: Me neither man, its been awesome having them all in the camp. There’s also some local guys that are just tough dudes. Everybody’s careful training hard but smart.

sPidA: Thats great man! So let me ask you, how did you go about getting on the card? Did they contact you or did they contact your manager?

Ryan Larson: Funny how it all came about but I was actually on my way home from training here at Jacksons Camp when I got to El Paso, I got a call from my old coach, Phil Cardella. He told me Strikeforce was looking for an opponent to fight Eric Apple at 170 and he had thrown my name in the box. Later the match maker calls me and its a go from there.

sPidA: Thats awesome that you have great guys looking out for you. Phil’s an awesome spokeperson and definetly represents his camp and Texas very well. Do you keep in touch with your past opponents, I mean is there a commoraridity after the fight?

Ryan Larson: Yea bro, I mean, we need to fight somebody and after my fights win/lose or draw I usually offer them a beer an sometimes even train with that person. I have tons of respect for all of my opponents.

sPidA: I’ve seen you fight twice and I’ve seen you use both your stand up an ground game. Would you say you have a preferance when you do battle?

Ryan Larson: You know, I have great wrestling and Jiu-jitsu but I’ve also had pro boxing experience. Been learning a lot the past few years with Aaron Rosa and Pete Spratt. Lately, my striking has gotten much better man. I usually have a strategy for every occasion but sometimes, like my last fight, I jumped into a guilitine late into the round and just went off my game plan. Wanted to keep the fight on my feet.

sPidA: You’ve done your time in the grappling circuits and in the cage fights here in Texas Promotions. Looking back would you have guessed this would be happening, getting to fight not only for STRIKEFORCE but also have you fight aired on live TV?

Ryan Larson: Man, I would have never guessed it would have happend this quickly. I mean, it’s what we all want but fighting’s a crazy game. With injuries and what not but I am blessed and I’m very pleased to be able to showcase my skills on STRIKEFORCE.

sPidA: So will you be there in Jacksons Camp till the day of your fight or are you planning on coming back to San Antonio?

Ryan Larson: Well, STRIKEFORCE is planning on bringing me out a day before the weigh ins so I”ll be here till then. Afer my fight I’ll be back in Texas for sure.

sPidA: That’s great man! We will be there with the rest of Texas supporting you and the other Texas guys. I do appreciate this bro. Any last words, people you’d like to thank to end this interview?

Ryan Larson: I’d like to thank all the people from San Antonio and Austin. Rodrigo’s gym, Phil Cardella and everybody that I have fought and trained with. My family who has been supportive of me though my ups and downs in my fight career, couldnt have kept doing this without my fiances and family. Also I would like to thank Unrival, they’ve been my sponsors from the beginning. Awesome people and also Ron Hernandez from King of Kombat who has always been good to me. And of course, you guys. It really means a lot to me!