Cagewriter - Mixed Martial Arts

Couture and Larkin grind their way to wins at Strikeforce Challengers 19

Nick Rossborough and Maka Watson were supposed to stepping stones tonight in Las Vegas. Maybe they didn't get the message, because both scatched and clawed for three rounds. Super prospect Lorenz Larkin got by Rossborough and Ryan Couture, son of UFC legend Randy, edged Watson, but they both had to earn their wins at Strikeforce Challengers 19.

The 29-year-old Couture is just four fights into his pro career but all four have been on nationally televised Showtime cards. He was coming off a loss, but showed that he's learning what his strengths are and playing to them.

Couture was a solid high school wrestler and he's taken his MMA grappling to another level, but when he lost to Matt Ricehouse back in June he relied too much on his striking. Tonight, he went back to his bread and butter to score a split decision victory, 29-28, 29-28 and 28-28, and gas Watson by the final minutes of the fight.

"He's tough as nails. That was not that fun, but I'm real glad to get the W," Couture said. "Some things went according to plan and other things I didn't do as well. I wasn't very sharp when he was on top."

Couture (4-1) turned to his grappling from the opening seconds of the fight when he jumped on Watson's back and got the fight to the mat. He controlled him on the ground and worked for various chokes for nearly four minutes. With 45 seconds left, Watson was able to escape and get top control. He got off a nasty elbow to slice open a bloody cut on Couture's forehead.

In the second, Couture once again got the fight to the mat and controlled things until two minutes left. This time when Watson, got top control he got off nasty elbows and most of his shots went unanswered. In third, Couture got it to the ground for the final 3:45 of the fight to seal the victory.

Couture and Larkin grind their way to wins at Strikeforce Challengers 19No one is expecting Couture to make a run at a title, but Larkin may be a different story. He's one the best strikers to come along in a while at light heavyweight.He got a tough draw tonight in the 6-foot-5 Rossborough, but was still able to win a unanimous decision, 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28. Larkin was a minus-700 favorite entering the fight.

Larkin is a smallish 205-pounder while Rossborough's a guy who just fought at heavyweight three weeks ago. Rossborough (18-14-2) chose to fight in close quarters along the cage and Larkin seemed willing to brawl. It actually cost him over the first two rounds as Rossborough stayed in the fight and scored well with his dirty boxing.

In the third, the big weight cut may have taken its toll on Rossborough. with four and half minutes left in the fight, he got caught by a beautiful knee to the body out of the clinch. After a delayed reaction, Rossborough fell to his back. Larkin poured it on while on top with some vicious elbows. A well-placed left elbow busted open Rossborough's forehead. He made it to the bell, but was covered with blood.

This was a good learning experience for Larkin (12-0). Because his best attributes are his speed, variety and movement, there was no need to brawl along the cage. He couldn't use any of those skills while locked up along the fence against a guy who was six inches taller.

"He came to fight. He was hungry. That's what I want. I couldn't ask for nothing better. I love how he pushed me. How he was hitting me. That's what makes me tough," said Larkin.

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