Del Rosario-Johnson could steal the show

By Dave Doyle

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The opening night of the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix features plenty of star power at the top, as former PRIDE champion Fedor Emelianenko, former UFC champion Andrei Arlovski, and former Elite XC kingpin Antonio Silva all seek to advance in quarterfinal action.

But a pair of alternates could potentially steal the show at the Izod Center on Saturday night. Two of Strikeforce’s top heavyweight prospects, Shane Del Rosario and Lavar Johnson, make their Showtime main card debuts in a bout that promises plenty of fireworks.

“It could get explosive out there, baby,” said Johnson (15-3). “Sometimes when you go to the fights, the guys who aren’t in the main event are the ones who come out and really fire up the crowd. I’m going to do my part to make it happen.”

All 25 of the fighters’ combined wins have come by way of stoppage. Del Rosario, a Laguna Niguel, Calif., native and Muay Thai specialist, has only been pushed past the first round once in his career and has eight of his 10 wins via KO or TKO. Johnson, who relies on the power of his big right hand, has six first-round stoppages in his current seven-fight win streak.

Something has to give. But it probably won’t take long.

“We’ll come out standing and banging, no doubt,” said Del Rosario. “Where it goes from there, we’ll see.”


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