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'Strikeforce Challengers 13' a card worth watching

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It seems each edition of Strikeforce Challengers is a grab bag of good and bad. The year 2010 gave us a few decent efforts out of Strikeforce's building ground, but left a bit to be desired on certain occasions.

It's been quite a while since Strikeforce has put on a Challengers show as relevant to the promotion's future as it will Friday with "Strikeforce Challengers 13" from Nashville. 

The card, which features five fights and is headlined by a welterweight bout between Tyron Woodley and Tarec Saffiedine, features three fights with three fighters who could be in line for Strikeforce world title shots in 2011, plus the promotional debuts of two very interesting prospects.

In the main event, Woodley battles Saffiedine. Woodley, a former University of Missouri wrestler, is one of the top welterweight prospects in the sport and quickly is shedding that prospect tag. At 7-0, Woodley is 5-0 in Strikeforce with four of those wins coming by stoppage, including a knockout win over Andre Galvao in October.

With a win over a talented fighter in Saffiedine, Woodley could be setting himself up as the No. 1 contender for Strikeforce's welterweight championship currently held by Nick Diaz. Diaz faces Evangelista "Cyborg" Santos on Jan. 29.

Saffiedine, a sizable underdog at most sportsbooks, is 2-0 in Strikeforce and 10-2 overall. This fight will determine Strikeforce's top welterweight up-and-comer without a doubt. 

In the evening's co-main event, one of the top heavyweight prospects in the sport, Daniel Cormier, will face journeyman wrestler Devin Cole.

Cormier, who trains out of American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, Calif., is a heavy, heavy favorite in this fight, and for good wrestler. Cormier, a 2008 Olympic wrestler, will have the edge in wrestling but might not be able to handle Cole as easily as some of his other opponents.

Cormier is 6-0 with only one of his opponents making it out of the first round. He is 3-0 in Strikeforce and is the XMMA and King of the Cage heavyweight champion.

With Strikeforce focusing on heavyweight fighters this year with its Heavyweight Grand Prix, an impressive win here by Cormier could place him in the mix for an alternate spot in the tournament should one of the participants be unable to continue.

Cole is coming off a decision loss to Aaron Rosa at Shark Fights 13 to drop him to 18-8-1 in his career. His best win came in 2006 when he beat Mike Kyle.

Third from the top is a light-heavyweight bout between the emerging Ovince St. Preux and Ron "Abongo" Humphrey. St. Preux jumped into the limelight with two wins in a matter of weeks, beating the favored Antwain Britt and then Benji Radach in televised Strikeforce fights. St. Preux has won six in a row after starting his career 3-4.

A former University of Tennessee football player, St. Preux will be looking for another shot at the big show with a win here. A few more wins, including a big win on an "arena series" show could see him fighting for the light-heavyweight title by the end of the year.

St. Preux draws Humphrey (7-2), a fighter who has lost both his fights inside the Strikeforce cage, dropping a TKO to Brett Rogers in April 2009 and submitting to Mike Kyle in July 2010. He sandwiched a win over George Bush in between those fights.

This is a decent test for St. Preux. He needs to continue to win impressively on these Challengers shows and force Strikeforce to bring him up to the main show.

Also on the show, an intriguing female fighter debuts when the ultra-aggressive Amanda Nunes faces Julia Budd.

The 22-year old Nunes will be making her Strikeforce debut with a 5-1 overall record. All five wins have come by TKO.

Budd is making her second start after debuting in MMA with a TKO win over Shana Olsen at "Challengers 11" in October.

It will be extremely intriguing to see if Nunes can do the same things in America as she has in Brazil.

Cormier won't be the only Olympian on the card as 2004 U.S. Judo Olympian t will face late replacement John Richard. Watching Ferguson's continuing transition to MMA will be interesting to say the least.

Overall, this is a show that, as a mixed martial arts fan, you can't miss. If you want to see the future of Strikeforce at work, this is a must-watch show. Even if you don't, it's still a worth-while endeavor.

SBN coverage of Strikeforce Challengers 13