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By: Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief
With the sheer amount of news that has come out for the UFC over the last week, and the events the organization has on the horizon, Strikeforce has been flying under the radar despite having two events on the calendar for this month.
Though the limited coverage coming the organization's way this month will concentrate on Saturday's Heavyweight Grand Prix semifinals event in Cincinnati, Ohio, the return of the Challengers series on Sept. 23 features a main event with one of the more intriguing light heavyweight prospects coming up through the ranks in Lorenz Larkin.
The 25-year-old made his Strikeforce debut this April, taking on former kickboxer and, at the time, 6-1 Scott Lighty. After an exciting and creative display of striking earned him a TKO victory over Lighty, he then defeated Gian Villante in June, and now gets his first televised headlining fight in the organization against Virgil Zwicker.
With a record of 11-0, with eight victories coming by (T)KO, Larkin continues to impress with a flashy and unpredictable striking arsenal. Entering his first headlining fight with much more fanfare, Larkin's really looking forward to his Las Vegas debut.
"Every fighter wants to get [a big fight] in Las Vegas," Larkin told MMATorch on Thursday. "It's been a big change from what my career used to be and what it is now [in Strikeforce] in that short bit of time. I would have never thought it would have been like this."
Larkin's entrance into MMA came as a natural transition after he realized that the sport of boxing wouldn't be a viable career option for him. At 5'11" and around 220 lbs, Larkin didn't think he'd be able to make a run as a heavyweight boxer, and that realization led him to begin a transition into MMA.
After a successful amateur run, Larkin made the move to the professional ranks in 2009. The creativeness that has been seen out of him in his Strikeforce fights is something that was with him in that first bout over two years ago.
"Most of [my striking] is training and it's just kind of my style," Larkin said. "But a lot of things I do I have tried in the cage for the first time [in fights]. My first career fight, I knocked a guy out with an elbow; that was the first time I [had] ever thrown an elbow in a fight because I couldn't use them as an amateur, [and] it just kind of landed."
That propensity to think on the fly and add new things to his game is part of his overall goals to simply keep getting better as a fighter. This bout on Sept. 23 marks his fourth of 2011, and that comes after notching seven fights in 2010; for Larkin, it's just important to keep himself busy.
"I don't really like to take that much of a break off," he said. "Some guys only fight two times a year - I don't see myself being able to do that. I like to keep active. I hate cage rust… I don't have to take that much time and preparation [in between fights], no more than an eight week camp."
As a fighter under the Zuffa umbrella, Larkin does have a desire to eventually compete in the UFC. However, he's perfectly happy with what Strikeforce has done for him, and he's in no hurry to do anything but keep improving and keep putting on entertaining fights.
"I'm just trying to grow as a fighter," he said. "I'm pretty sure Strikeforce wants to keep me around. Hopefully the UFC picks me up [eventually], but I'm more focused on putting on good shows and putting on good fights for the fans right now."
"I want to get to a point where I'm just so comfortable in the cage... [that] it's like a second home. I want to get settled in [and used to everything that comes with being in a major promotion]."
Jamie Penick, editor-in-chief
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