Spike TV’s most infamous reality fighter, Bobby Southworth, will battle hard-punching road warrior, Vernon “Tiger” White, in the first-ever Strikeforce mixed martial arts light heavyweight (205 lb) championship bout at San Jose, California’s HP Pavilion on Friday, December 8th. The matchup will be one of three title fights to take place on the star-studded Strikeforce “Triple Threat” bill being presented by BodogFIGHT.
“It’s gonna be an honor for me to take this title and come home with it,” said the 35-year-old White, a 13-year veteran of the professional fight game who has seen action in every major mixed martial arts organization from the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) to Japan’s K-1 and Pride Fighting Championship. “It means a lot to me. I’ve held titles in three other organizations and I want another one.”
A longtime protégé and training partner of UFC Hall of Fame member, Ken Shamrock, White is recognized as a founding member of Shamrock’s fight team, “The Lion’s Den.” Southworth’s alliance with American Kickboxing Academy (AKA), the former home of Shamrock’s estranged, adopted brother, Frank, has White taking the upcoming matchup somewhat personally.
“Frank has said some disparaging remarks about Ken and it’s not right,” explained Tiger. “I know that (Bobby) used to train with Frank, so that, in itself, makes me want to go out there and bury him because I know he thinks he’s got submission skills.”
White’s no frills, crowd pleasing style of hybrid combat has helped the Palo Alto, California resident produce a host of memorable moments in the sport, including a first round knockout of former Pride Fighting Championship star, Alex Stiebling. “I’ve been focused on knocking fools out because that’s what the fans want,” insisted White, who, outside of his work with The Lion’s Den, has dabbled in a host of different fighting disciplines, including Tae Kwon Do, Jiu-Jitsu, Judo, and several traditional Japanese martial arts. “I like to stand up and bang with people. I’m there to fight. I don’t like hugging and kissing and all that stuff.”
The 36-year-old Southworth introduced himself to the masses two years ago after being selected to compete on the premiere season of Spike TV’s The Ultimate Fighter. In the running with seven other light heavyweights, Southworth reached the semifinal round of elimination on the 12 week reality series that sent one of its original 16 contestants home each week and awarded its winner in each of two weight classes a six-figure contract with the.
One of the sport’s more vocal athletes, Southworth became a central focus on the hit show, namely for his ongoing feud with middleweight contestant, Chris Leben. “Even though I didn’t win the show, I was probably the most visible character on it,” noted Southworth. “I was in every single episode. Even after the episode in which I was eliminated, the first 20 minutes of the next show was still devoted to the exchange that (UFC President) Dana White and I had.”
Prior to making his debut on national television, Southworth was instrumental in establishing the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu program offered at AKA. He also spearheaded the formation of a team of top mixed martial arts competitors at the gym.
Tickets for Strikeforce “Triple Threat” are on sale at Ticketmaster (408-998-TIXS) and Ticketmaster online (www.ticketmaster.com) as well as at the HP Pavilion box office (408-287-7070). Tickets are priced at $200.00, $150.00, $100.00, $75.00, $50.00, and $40.00, and $30.00.
The December 8th card will host the third-career mixed martial arts start of undefeated 185-pound world San Shou kickboxing champion, Cung Le. During a Strikeforce matchup at the HP Pavilion on June 9th, Le stopped rival “Mr. Unbreakable” Brian Warren with a right hand in the first round of action to notch his second victory in the cage.
Strikeforce’s 155 pound lightweight champion, Gilbert Melendez, will likewise attempt to extend his perfect record to 14-0 when the San Francisco, California native is challenged for his crown by an opponent that has yet to be named.
Another lightweight sensation, Josh “The Punk” Thomson, will also top the bill. On October 7th, the 28-year-old former NCAA Division I wrestler put forth what was arguably his strongest effort to date when he controlled world Muay Thai champion and K-1 Max contender, Duane “Bang” Ludwig, for over a round before finding an opportunity to force Ludwig into submission with a guillotine choke hold.
Unbeaten submission wrestling stylist and former World Wrestling Entertainment “Tough Enough” reality show winner, Daniel Puder, will make his fourth career mixed martial arts appearance during “Triple Threat.”