Five Bouts Now Set For Strikeforce: "Champions" On January 12Hard-hitting Jorge “Gamebred” Masvidal has stepped in to replace injured Strikeforce Lightweight Champion Gilbert “El Niño” Melendez at Strikeforce: “Champions” on January 12th in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Masvidal will face Pat “Bam Bam” Healy in a bout first reported by

The January Strikeforce event was originally scheduled to feature three title fights, but middleweight champion Luke Rockhold was also forced out of his bout with Lorenz “The Monsoon” Larkin due to an injury. Nate “The Great” Marquardt defends his welterweight belt against Tarec “Sponge” Saffiedine.

Masvidal (23-7-0) challenged unsuccessfully for the lightweight title when he battled Melendez for five rounds this past December. He got back on the winning track in July with a Split Decision victory over Justin “The Silverback” Wilcox and had entertained thoughts of returning to Japan to compete in the coming months, but will instead step in to face fellow veteran Healy (28-16-0) early next year. Healy has won eight of his past nine fights and is in the midst of what is arguably the most successful period of his lengthy career. However, he has thus far been denied his shot at Melendez’s title due to untimely injuries to the champion. While the future of Strikeforce remains very much uncertain, Healy will still have a chance to pick up another big win if he can defeat Masvidal in January.

In the lone remaining title fight and likely main event for the card, Marquardt (32-10-2) will look to make the first defence of his newly-won Strikeforce Welterweight Championship when he takes on Saffiedine (13-3-0), who has won six of his past seven fights. Marquardt captured the vacant title by stopping the previously unbeaten Tyron “T-Wood” Woodley in July. The bout was Marquardt’s first since his abrupt release from the UFC in 2011. Saffiedine is currently riding a three-fight winning streak that includes a decision victory over “Relentless” Roger Bowling in August. He is a strong technical striker and has never been finished in 16 career fights.

Other bouts on the January card include a heavyweight battle between Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix Champion Daniel Cormier (10-0-0) and Dutch veteran Dion “The Soldier” Staring (28-7-0), as well as a light heavyweight matchup between former Strikeforce titleholder Gegard “The Dreamcatcher” Mousasi (32-3-2) and Mike “MAK” Kyle (19-8-1, 2 NC). Rounding out the confirmed card thus far is a lightweight showdown between former EliteXC champ “King” K.J. Noons (11-5-0) and Ryan Couture (5-1-0).

Strikeforce: “Champions” takes place on January 12, 2013 at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The event is rumoured to be the final Strikeforce show before the promotion folds next year, though no official announcement has been made as to the promotion’s status beyond January.



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