Strikeforce World Light Heavyweight Champion and The Ultimate Fighter semifinalist Bobby Southworth (7-4) will square off with Canadian striker Bill “The Butcher” Mahood (15-5-1) on Saturday, Sept. 29 in a non-title bout during the Strikeforce mixed martial arts event at The Playboy Mansion in Beverly Hills, Calif.
Undefeated heavyweight and former World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) star Daniel Puder (5-0) will lock horns with Richard Dalton (3-2) at the same event.
The 37-year-old Southworth is no stranger to performing on big stages. The Santa Cruz, Calif. native became a familiar face to millions of Spike TV viewers two years ago during his stint on the original season of The Ultimate Fighter.
Southworth was crowned the first world light heavyweight mixed martial arts champion in Strikeforce history on Dec. 8 after he earned a unanimous decision over fellow UFC veteran and former K-1 USA contender Vernon “Tiger” White at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif.
For the majority of the last year, Mahood has shined as a contender in the BodogFIGHT organization, reeling off back-to-back victories over Khalil Ibrahim and Steve Steinbeiss, respectively. He is also a veteran of both the UFC and King Of The Cage.
The son of a former collegiate boxer, Mahood took up Judo at the tender age of eight. As a teenager, he became passionate about Tae Kwon Do and competed in the Korean martial art through his first two years of college. Mahood later took up another Korean discipline, Hapkido.
It was the inaugural UFC in 1993 that inspired Mahood to supplement his traditional martial arts studies with Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu training, which he pursued under acclaimed coaches Marc Laimon and John Lewis. Mahood became a training partner of mixed martial arts superstar Denis Kang after the two Canadians befriended one another in 2003.
The 25-year-old Puder, who recently inked a six-fight deal with Strikeforce, will make his first start since Feb. 18 when he stopped Michael Alden during BodogFIGHT’s visit to Costa Rica.
The winner of the WWE’s “Tuff Enough” reality television series, Puder’s conquest earned him a $1 million paycheck, as well as a one-year contract with the leading professional wrestling organization.
The pinnacle of Puder’s run on the UPN-televised reality show, which aired between October and December 2004, came when he was granted the opportunity to grapple with 1996 Olympic Gold medalist and professional wrestling legend, Kurt Angle. To the amazement of WWE officials and the millions of TV viewers looking on, Puder successfully placed Angle in a “kimura” submission hold, bringing about a tremendous upset victory for the young contender.
Since he returned to the world of mixed martial arts, where he had begun his professional combat sports career with a victory in Japan’s X-1 organization in 2003, Puder, a former student of Strikeforce World Middleweight Champion Frank Shamrock, has only been forced to fight longer than a single round by one of his four opponents, Mike Cook. Puder submitted Cook with a rear naked choke in round two of their Dec. 8 Strikeforce promoted matchup.
Puder’s opponent, Dalton, also brings to the table an impressive wrestling resume that includes over 13 years experience in the sport. Following a high school career that gained him recognition as one of the top competitors in the state of New Jersey, Dalton achieved similar status as a competitor for Palomar Junior College.
In 1996, Dalton enlisted in The United States Marine Corps and, soon after, joined the Southern Pacific Navy wrestling squad. While stationed in various locations, he enjoyed success in a host of high-profile tournaments, including The Sunkist Open in Arizona and The Dave Schultz International in Colorado.
Thus far, Dalton’s work in the sport of mixed martial arts has been primarily concentrated in the San Diego, Calif.-based Total Combat league where he holds a combined record of 3-1-1.
The Strikeforce mixed martial arts fight card at The Playboy Mansion will be headlined by the return of undefeated Strikeforce Lightweight Champion, “El Nino” Gilbert Melendez (12-0).
Former UFC middleweight star Joe “Diesel” Riggs (26-9) will make his Strikeforce debut against Eugene “The Wolf” Jackson (15-7-1). UFC and Pride veteran Josh “The Punk” Thomson (34-2) will square off with former IFL standout and United States marine, Adam Lynn (11-7).