Strikeforce uses the Challengers series to groom up and coming talent. Fighters who excel at the primer shows earn their way to the larger cards and this was the exact path traveled by Lavar Johnson and Shane del Rosario. Both fighters mowed down opponents in the Challengers series and have proven legit on the big shows as well. As the heavyweight tournament kicked off tonight, the two prospects collided in a battle to prove who is on deck in the Strikeforce heavyweight division.
The fight began with a big left hand from Johnson as it knocked Del Rosario back. Shane grabbed the clinch and took the action to the fence. Johsnon switched positions and after landing some strong knees to the midsection took Del Rosario to the canvas. Del Rosario slipped out after Johnson postured up and the action returned to the feet. Johnson landed a hammering left to the head and followed up with another to the body as the fight crossed the midway point of the first round. Two straight left hands from Del Rosario pushed Johnson against the cage where Shane finished the takedown on the bounce back. Shane instantly moved to full mount and Johnson was in trouble. Shane moved up in an attempt to set up an arm triangle or armbar but Johnson was able to buck him down. The comfort didn't last long as Del Rosario immediately resumed his attack and at with 30 seconds left in the bout, locked in the armbar and forced Johnson to tap.
Del Rosario keeps his undefeated record intact and improves to 11-0. In tonight's matchup he proved he can rebound from a rough start and as the composure to not only battle back but push through for the finish. As for Johnson, tonight's loss will not hurt him position wise but it exposed some areas where he needs to focus.