by Ricardo Mendoza – MMAWeekly.com
Although the event is a little over two months away, the California-based Strikeforce promotion is set to hold its biggest event in its young history on June 22nd. After months of talk and bad blood, Phil Baroni will finally meet Frank Shamrock in the cage in one of the most anticipated fights of the year.
The two were first set to meet on December 8th at Strikeforce: Triple Threat, but contractual issues prevented the fight from happening. The fight was then scheduled to take place on the next Strikeforce in April, but Frank Shamrock signed on to fight Renzo Gracie instead at Elite XC: Destiny.
This created a legal firestorm that eventually forged a partnership between Strikeforce and Elite XC, which resulted in a fighter exchange and Strikeforce’s June 22nd pay-per-view debut being distributed by Showtime PPV and co-promoted by Elite XC.
Murilo “Ninja” Rua will make his U.S. debut as he takes on fellow Pride veteran Joey Villasenor for the Elite XC Middleweight Championship. Ninja is coming off a submission victory over Mark Weir at Cage Rage 18. Villasenor is coming off a dominant decision win over David Loiseau at Elite XC: Destiny.
UFC veteran Paul “The Headhunter” Buentello takes on K-1 USA Grand Prix Champion Cater Williams. Buentello is coming off a knockout win over Ruben “Warpath” Villareal at Strikeforce: Triple Threat. Williams is coming off a knockout victory over Tom Howard at Rumble on the Rock 6.
Local favorite Cung Le takes on the biggest test of his young MMA career in Tony “The Freak” Fryklund. Le is coming off a doctor stoppage victory over Jason Von Flue at Strikeforce: Triple Threat. Fryklund is coming off an exciting knockout loss to Duane “Bang” Ludwig at Strikeforce: Triple Threat.
Pride veteran Charles “Krazy Horse” Bennett gets a chance at redemption as he takes on KOTC veteran Victor “Joe Boxer” Valenzuela. The two fighters first meet at KOTC: Prime Time, where many felt Valenzuela had won the fight but the judges ruled the fight a draw. Bennett is coming off a knockout victory over KJ Noons at Elite XC: Destiny. Valenzuela is coming off a submission victory over Albert Hill at KOTC: Caged Chaos.
Other fighters that are scheduled to participate include; Josh “The Punk” Thomson, Duane “Bang” Ludwig, Paul Daley, Jason Von Flue, Mike Pyle, Luke Stewart, and Eugene Jackson.