COURTESY OF STRIKEFORCE/GETTY
Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2011 | 2:05 a.m.
If You Go
- What: Strikeforce Challengers 19
- When: Friday, September 23, 6 p.m.
- Where: The Pearl At The Palms
- Tickets: $50 to $115, Ticketmaster
Everything about Lorenz Larkin screams flashy.
Even though he only turned to professional mixed martial arts two years ago, the 25-year-old Strikeforce light heavyweight has developed a creative striking game. Larkin’s first two Strikeforce bouts have included flying knees, front kicks, spinning elbows and a handful of unorthodox moves.
“I don’t play it safe,” Larkin said. “If I see something that might work, I’m going to try it, no matter how ridiculous it looks. I’m never going hold myself down or restrict myself from something.”
Larkin enters the cage with the appearance to match his fighting style. Before every bout, he shaves an outline of a bell into his hair.
To be specific, it’s the historic bell in Larkin’s hometown of Riverside, Calif.
“It’s just a little symbol of where I’m from,” Larkin said. “It’s an inside thing you could say. Everyone that lives in Riverside knows what it is.”
The undefeated Larkin (9-0 MMA, 2-0 SF) brings his charisma to the Pearl at the Palms Friday in the headlining match of Strikeforce Challengers 20 against Nick Rossborough (18-13 MMA, 0-0 SF).
It’s not the opponent he expected. Rossborough, who was on the seventh season of “The Ultimate Fighter” but didn’t make it past the elimination round, is actually the opposite of original opponent Virgil Zwicker.
Zwicker, known as a stand-up fighter, had to pull off the card last week with an injury. That meant the opportunity fell to Rossborough, who is primarily a grappler.
The switch annoyed Larkin, who for the first time in his career had implemented a specific game plan based on an opponent he knew months in advance. He was unsure if he would accept another fight for a moment before deciding that a main event in Las Vegas was too much to pass up.
And even if Rossborough spends all his energy trying to score a takedown, Larkin plans to make the fight exciting.
“I don’t necessarily go in and try to put on a good fight,” Larkin said. “I just think when I fight, it’s exciting. I don’t have to force it.”
Larkin may possess the rare combination of talent, confidence and personality that fight promoters crave. He briefly convinced an interviewer that his newfound passion for modern jazz dancing had begun to interfere with fighting.
It wasn’t true. He’s focused on MMA for now. Prominent placement on a Strikeforce card after only two bouts outside of a regional promotion helped to reinforce it.
“I feel like I must have done something right,” Larkin said. “I’m honored being in my third fight in Strikeforce and headlining. It’s surreal.”
Larkin knows his profile is growing, especially in the MMA community and around Riverside. Larkin would like to someday reach the point where he’s an athlete known as much as competing for his city as himself.
Like the rest of his career, Larkin’s synonymy with Riverside is off to a promising start but has a long way to go.
“I’m starting to get recognition,” Larkin said, “but I won’t feel like I’ve made it until I get something for free.”