Last night's Strikeforce Challengers 15 card was surprisingly good. Often with prospect shows you get inconsistent opposition levels or a lack of hype heading in, both of which serve to drive anticipation down. Conversely, big performances against even somewhat known quantities tend to stand out.
Enter: Lorenz Larkin. The striker who allegedly has a background in kung fu entered his bout with Scott Lighty as a late replacement for former Olympic judoka gold medalist Satoshi Ishii. Brent Brookhouse describes how Larkin was able to stand out:
Normally I go in card order, but I can't help myself. I'm still buzzing over the performance of Lorenz Larkin. Larkin came in as a relative unknown, starting his career in 2009 and fighting seven times in 2010 piling up a 9-0 record. In Scott Lighty he faced a man who had been fairly successful at the K-1 level (finishing as runner-up in the 2005 World Grand Prix in Vegas II runner up) and who had only lost once as a professional mixed martial artist while picking up three impressive KO wins in Strikeforce.
From the opening bell it was clear that Larkin had a huge edge in speed. He used that edge to get in and out while throwing blistering punches and kicks that kept Lighty from ever getting comfortable. The sheer variety of Larkin's attack was impressive as he threw punishing punches, leaping kicks, slashing elbows and went to the body and legs effectively. Lighty was able to land the occasional punch but he never really stood much of a chance as Larkin was just too fast and too strong.
While Larkin appeared to keep his hands a little too low while facing a striker, as soon as distance was closed he put his hands into proper defensive position and was stellar at picking off the strikes of Lighty. There are plenty of questions about Larkin's ground game to be answered but he showed good positional awareness when he was on top and displayed good balance in defending against the few takedown attempts of his foe.
I could talk about this performance all day, so I probably should move on. I'll end my Larkin mancrushing by saying that I can not wait to see him fight again. That's the kind of thing that makes Challengers a worthwhile piece of MMA programming.
Larkin's style is probably a little loose for the upper echelon of the division, but he's only 24 years old and if he can incorporate more defensive necessities to carry himself through the ranks, his offensive standing abilities will carry him rather far.
Even with a performance like this, there are more questions than answers. What about his takedown defense? Lighty was pushing takedowns linerally and not at an angle. What sort of ground game or defensive wrestling does Larkin actually possess. While no one knows the answer, we are at least now asking the questions. Larkin was virtually unknown this time yesterday in the world of MMA. Now the masses are curious.