Press Release courtesy of Strikeforce
Twenty-four year old Cory Devela will bid for his eighth consecutive victory when he takes on what is arguably his most dangerous challenge to date, heavy-handed Terry Martin, in a middleweight (185 lb. limit) contest during Strikeforce’s mixed martial arts extravaganza at the world-famous Playboy Mansion on Saturday, Sept. 20.

“I know he’s a short little brick house and a good wrestler, but I’ll have a lot or reach on him and I don’t think anybody’s wrestling compares to mine,” said a confident Devela, who stands 6’2″ compared to the 5’8″ Martin. “People underestimate my wrestling. Joe Riggs did and got thrown because of that. I’m going to do the same thing to Terry if he wants to wrestle with me.”

It was his victory over Riggs, at Strikeforce’s debut card in Tacoma, Washington on Feb. 23 that gained Devela national recognition. Locked in close quarters with Riggs, Devela executed a throw that left his opponent on his back, temporarily incapacitated. The injury prompted Riggs to verbally submit at the 1:22 mark of the first round.

Since being armbarred on June 3, 2004 by Ed Herman, the eventual runner-up on season three of Spike TV’s “The Ultimate Fighter” reality series, Devela has not suffered a defeat. According to the rising star, his surge can be attributed almost entirely to his four years of training under MMA superstar Dennis Hallman.

“Dennis runs practice almost like a wrestling practice and I’ve been a wrestler since elementary school so I learned the same way he teaches,” explained Devela. There’s a lot of live activity whether we’re wrestling or sparring kickboxing.”

Devela’s opponent, Martin, is a testament to human fortitude and one’s ability to overcome a troublesome past. A former gang member, he survived five gunshot wounds that nearly took his life at age 15 on the streets of his native Chicago, and has since earned a bachelor’s degree from Northern Illinois University and pursued a dual career in professional boxing and MMA. At 28 years old, he is a candidate for a master’s degree in psychology.

“When I was in the hospital recovering, I was around people who were shot in the same places as me, but who couldn’t walk or who lost their limbs as a result of what happened,” explained Martin of what drove him to make such drastic changes in his life. “Some of them even passed away. That really made me think twice and start hanging out in a different environment.”

His determination and spirit caught the eye of another Chicago-based MMA champion in Shonie Carter while Martin was wrestling competitively for his soon-to-be alma mater. Carter introduced Martin to the local MMA scene and, soon after, a new career was born.

Amongst the notches under Martin’s belt are wins over top contenders Chael Sonnen, Ivan Salaverry, and Jorge Rivera.

“Fighting has always been a part of me. I come from a fightin’ family,” said Martin. “You have to be aggressive to make it in MMA. I’m aggressive and agile and I think I have a very entertaining style.”

“Strikeforce At The Mansion II” will also be highlighted by a showdown between 2006 Pride Fighting Championship Grand Prix winner and world Top 10 ranked, Kazuo Misaki (20-8-2), and 25-year-old former UFC star Joe “Diesel “Riggs (28-10).

Strikeforce World Light Heavyweight (205 lb. limit) Champion Bobby Southworth (9-5) will face the greatest challenge of his nine-year mixed martial arts (MMA) career when he puts his belt on the line against superstar Renato “Babalu” Sobral (30-7).

Newly crowned Strikeforce World Lightweight (155 lb. limit) Champion Josh “The Punk” Thomson will also return to action against an opponent that has to be named. The event lineup will be comprised of 10 bouts.