Vitor “Shaolin” Ribeiro
The elder statesmen of this group, Ribeiro has fought twice since returning from a year-and-a-half absence from the sport, losing to Shinya Aoki and defeating former Olympic wrestler Katsuhiko Nagata. Saturday night, “Shaolin” will get a stiff test from unbeaten Lyle “Fancy Pants” Beerbohm, with the winner moving up the 155-pound ranks.
The man they call “Relentless” is 7-0 and knocked out current Ultimate Fighter contestant Seth Baczynski in just nine seconds last March. After a lengthy delay, Bowling will finally make his Strikeforce debut later this month on the Portland, Oregon Challengers series event against Bobby Voekler.
Shane Del Rosario
Every list of emerging talents has to have a heavyweight because everyone loves to see the big boys throw down. Enter Shane Del Rosario. The Team Oyama member is unbeaten through nine professional bouts, and has been mentioned on a couple occasions as a possible matchup for former WWE star Bobby Lashley. In a sign of sound decision making, Lashley has continued to avoid climbing into the cage with the powerful former US Muay Thai champion.
Rockhold has been on quite a tear in Strikeforce, collecting six wins in six tries in 27 months, all of which came in the first round. He’s submitted former TUF bad boy Jesse Taylor, and recently earned a TKO win over Paul Bradley on the Challengers series event headlined by Sarah Kaufman’s championship win. An appearance on a major event against a name-brand opponent is next for the 25-year-old American Kickboxing Academy student.
The American Top Team welterweight has the makings of a future champion. A standout wrestler at Mizzou, Woodley has earned wins in all five of his professional bouts, four of which have come by way of submission. We’ll be talking with Woodley later in the month, so be on the lookout for our interview with the rising Strikeforce star.
Honorable Mentions: Daniel Cormier, Karl Amoussou, Tim Kennedy, Tarec Saffiedine, Lyle Beerbohm and Billy Evangelista.