The Best of Strikeforce Challengers: Fan’s View

With their new Showtime deal in place, Strikeforce will no longer put together the Strikeforce Challenger series. This series lasted 20 events from May 2009 through November 2011 and was mostly used for lesser-known fighters to help establish a name in the sport of mixed martial arts. Which fighters can say they made the largest impact on the sport because of their exposure on those cards?

Luke Rockhold - 3-0 in Challengers

Rockhold used his three wins in the series to get a middleweight title shot and promptly upset Ronaldo Souza to win the belt. He has won all eight fights in the promotion (9-1 overall) and feels he is one of the best middleweights in the sport. He has been a finishing machine, including his most recent TKO victory against Keith Jardine.

Daniel Cormier - 3-0 in Challengers

The undefeated heavyweight has taken the same route in Strikeforce as Rockhold. He made his professional debut on Challengers, winning his first two fights. He made his return to the series by defeating Devin Cole, which set him up against Jeff Monson in the heavyweight Grand Prix. He defeated Monson and Antonio Silva on his way to the finals against Josh Barnett in March.

Tyron Woodley - 4-0 in Challengers

Woodley (10-0 overall) has positioned himself as one of the best welterweights in Strikeforce with his run through the division. With the title currently vacated, Woodley is working towards positioning himself for a title shot in what is somewhat of a weak division featuring Tarec Saffiedine (someone Woodley defeated) and Bobby Voelker.

Sarah Kaufman - 5-0 in Challengers

Kaufman had a great run in the series, which included a title victory against Takayo Hashi and a successful defense against Roxanne Modafferi. She would lose her title to Marloes Coenen and had seemingly fought her way back to a shot at Miesha Tate, but was looked past for Ronda Rousey.

Miesha Tate - 3-1 in Challengers

Tate made her Challengers debut against Kaufman in May 2009, losing via unanimous decision. She made her return to the show and won three straight fights, earning a shot at Coenen. She won the title with an arm-triangle choke and will next defend the title against the upstart Rousey.

Ronda Rousey - 2-0 in Challengers

With just four professional fights, the undefeated Rousey has been dominant. The former Judo champion used her words to get a fight with Tate in the 135-lb. division instead of Cristiane Santos in the 145-lb. division. Her two fights in Strikeforce lasted just 1:04 and both ended with an armbar submission, which was the story of her career before Strikeforce. The first two fights of her career lasted just 1:14 and it will be a real test for Tate to get through one round.

For a look at the best fights for some of the most popular fighters in the UFC and 2011 division recaps, go here.

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Hobson Lopes has been a fan of mixed martial arts since the days of Tank Abbott and can be followed on Twitter @HobsonLopes.

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Updated Tuesday, Jan 10, 2012