NEW YORK – One of the most promising prospects in Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), Ryan Couture, will seek his second consecutive victory when he faces fellow unbeaten Lee Higgins (2-0) of Houston in a featured lightweight (155 pounds) bout of a STRIKEFORCE Challengers fight card presented by Rockstar Energy Drink at Cedar Park Center in the Austin, Texas. suburb of Cedar Park on Friday, Feb. 18, live on SHOWTIME® at 11 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the West Coast).
In the main event, unbeaten rising star Lyle “Fancy Pants” Beerbohm (15-0) of Spokane, Wash., takes on dangerous veteran Pat “Bam Bam’’ Healy (25-17) of St. Louis. The winner in the lightweight scrap remains in contention for a possible shot at the STRIKEFORCE title.
Tickets for STRIKEFORCE’s third fight card in 21 days and second in the Lone Star State go on sale to the general public at 10 a.m. CT tomorrow/Friday, Jan. 21, and will be available at the Cedar Park Center ticket office, all Ticketmaster locations (800) 745-3000, Ticketmaster online (www.ticketmaster.com) and STRIKEFORCE’s official website (www.strikeforce.com).
The first non-televised, undercard fight will begin at 7:30 p.m. CT. Doors will open at 6:45 p.m.
Ryan, the son of MMA legend, Randy Couture, will be making his second pro start and second for STRIKEFORCE on SHOWTIME. He won his debut last Aug. 13 with a slick, 75-second, first-round submission (triangle choke) over Lucas Stark on STRIKEFORCE Challengers.
The 5-foot-10, 28-year-old Couture was scheduled to fight last Nov. 19 but withdrew due to a staph infection.
“I was down for a few weeks but now I’m ready to fight and looking forward to fighting in Texas on Feb. 18,’’ said Couture, a member of Las Vegas, Nev.- based Xtreme Couture. “I’m excited and working hard. I expect a tough fight.’’
Ryan, who was born in Seattle, wrestled in junior high and high school before taking up Jiu-Jitsu. He graduated in 2004 with a mathematics degree from Western Washington University in Bellingham, Wash., and worked at a local bank before deciding to go into MMA. He began serious training in MMA in 2008.
“I became a fan when my dad began competing but didn’t get involved as a competitor until years later,’’ said Ryan, who went 5-1 in the amateurs. “I still have a ton to learn and there’ll always be pressure because I’m a ‘Couture,’’ but I’m pretty used to that now.’’’
Higgins, who fights out of Houston and is a product of Tony Aponte’s “Urban Jungle,’’ won both his fights by rear-naked choke in the first round within a three-week span late last year.
The 5-foot-11, 30-year-old submitted Gilbert Jimenez at 2:36 in his most recent outing on Dec. 4. He forced Kenny Burke to tap at 1:25 the previous Nov. 12. Both fights were in Houston.
“This is a great opportunity and an honor for me to fight the son of a legend,’’ Higgins said. “I couldn’t believe it when they offered me the fight. To get a chance to show my skills and make a name for myself on television is very exciting and absolutely a huge deal.’’
A blue belt in Jiu-Jitsu, Higgins grew up in Massachusetts but has been training in Houston the past two years.
“Lee’s biggest strength is his Jiu-Jitsu but he is also emotionally very strong and works extremely hard,’’ Aponte said. “He’ll be ready for Feb. 18.’’