Knockout power.

That could be the story of the night Friday evening at Strikeforce Challengers 19.  Both the headliner and co-headliner of the evening feature men who prefer to use their fists to end fights.  That could lead to some fireworks emanating from The Pearl at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas.

The main event was set to be a war between two of Strikeforce’s young guns in the light heavyweight division, Lorenz Larkin and Virgil Zwicker.  However, Zwicker sustained an injury little more than a week before the fight which forced his withdrawal.  Stepping in as a late replacement is Nick Rossborough.  Rossborough was a TUF 7 hopeful who lost to Jesse Taylor in the reality series’ elimination round.

Rossborough presents a different set of threats for Larkin.  Rather than two strikers seeking to knock each other’s heads off, it’s now a grappler with a mediocre record against an undefeated striker.  For Larkin, the hunt for a knockout continues, but he’ll have to beware the submission game of his less accomplished opponent.

Meanwhile, two heavyweight strikers lock horns in the co-main event.  Lavar Johnson’s ability to provide highlight reel knockouts put his name in Strikeforce’s spotlight.  He has to deal with a foe in Shawn Jordan who can not only knock foes out, but also possesses the ability to take Johnson out of his comfort zone and into the world of grappling.

Rounding out the main card, which airs live on Showtime at 11 p.m. ET, Ryan Couture looks to rebound from the first loss of his career when he takes on Maka Watson in lightweight action, welterweight Jason High gets another shot with a big promotion and must prove himself against Todd Moore, and 170-pounder Brian Melancon makes his third bid to pick up a win in a major promotion when he faces undefeated Felipe Portela.

The MMA Corner panel of Corey Adams, Bryan Henderson and Sean Smith break down all five main card bouts in this edition of the Round Table.

WW: Brian Melancon (5-2) vs. Felipe Portela (7-0)

Adams: Opening up the Showtime main card is a solid match-up between Melancon and a “Balboa” making his Strikeforce debut.

The Texas native Melancon came onto the Strikeforce scene in June, but lost his debut fight by split decision to Issac Vallie-Flagg. Now being 2-2 in his last four outings, Melancon needs a win here to stay around longer in the organization.

Portela will join Strikeforce after compiling a 7-0 record while fighting under many small organizations. Of those seven victories, five have come by finishes (four by submission). It will be a step up in competition, but will be exciting to show his talent to Strikeforce fans around the world.

In this fight, I expect a good performance shown by Portela. Melancon will look to earn a win in any way he can, even if it is by decision, but it will backfire as Portela locks up a submission hold in the second round.

Smith: With losses in his Bellator and Strikeforce debuts, it is beginning to look like Melancon might not have what it takes to compete at the highest level of this sport. This fight with Portela may prove to be his last chance to show that he has what it takes to stay composed under the bright lights.

Making his Strikeforce debut, Portela is unproven. However, in this case, it is better to be unproven than to be proven unable to pick up wins on the big stage.

Portela will threaten with submission attempts, but Melancon escaped a couple of those in his last fight with Vallie-Flagg, so I’ll give Melancon the benefit of the doubt here and predict that he makes it to the scorecards in a loss that will likely send him back to the regional circuit.

Henderson: Sean framed Melancon’s career perfectly. The man has more experience on a big stage than Portela, but all he has managed to do in those outings is to lose. It must be the bright lights, too, because Melancon has defeated the likes of fellow Challengers 19 participant Todd Moore on the regional circuit. He seems to have the skills, but perhaps the mental side of his game is not there.

However, I’m really not as convinced as my colleagues here that Portela holds the edge. He’s faced way too many fighters who have never notched a victory in professional competition. That’s reason for concern. It’s one thing to come in to Strikeforce undefeated through seven contests, but it’s another entirely to come in with a seven-fight undefeated streak that includes wins against tough competition. Not only is Portela unproven, but he appears to have a record padded with easy wins.

To me, this actually looks more like a chance for Melancon to find his footing in the big leagues. He might not have sustained success, but he’ll at least bring home the win here. Melancon by first-round TKO.

WW: Jason High (14-3) vs. Todd Moore (14-4)

Smith: Since his release from the UFC following a unanimous decision loss to Charlie Brenneman, Jason High has gone undefeated in five consecutive fights, which includes wins over Jordan Mein and Hayato Sakurai. Aside from the fight with Brenneman, High’s only other losses have come against Jay Hieron and Marius Zaromskis.

High’s opponent at Strikeforce Challengers 19, former WEC fighter Todd Moore, also has experience against stiff competition. Moore also carries heavy hands, which could be concerning for High, who has a somewhat questionable chin.

That being said, High is the better wrestler in this matchup, so he should be able to take this fight to the ground and avoid the stand-up altogether. High should be able to walk away with a unanimous decision victory when it’s all said and done.

Henderson: High does not get enough credit. Add Quinn Mulhern to High’s list of recent victims, and the man has a pretty impressive resume.

While Moore sports almost the same win-loss mark as High, I just don’t see the same level of competition on his list of wins. Outside of a 2006 win over T.J. Waldburger, Moore has been on the losing end of fights with top names in the sport. He fought John Alessio, Shane Roller and Shinya Aoki in a three-fight stretch, but he was submitted in the first round in two of those bouts while taking Alessio to a decision.

I have to say that I share Sean’s opinion here. If Moore lands a solid punch, he could score the knockout. However, the more likely scenario that plays out in this fight sees High control Moore en route to a unanimous decision.

Adams: Even with the UFC release, High has rejuvenated his career by compiling an undefeated record outside the promotion. It’s good to see that whenever someone is released by a major promotion, they get their head straight and work their way back up. High is in a great situation here to earn his way into Strikeforce full-time.

While both High and Moore have finishing ability, I think this one goes the distance. Look for High to earn a win anyway he can. He should be the smarter fighter and pick Moore apart to get a decision win.

LW: Ryan Couture (2-1) vs. Maka Watson (4-1)

Henderson: Ryan Couture is one of those fighters who would not be where he is if not for his last name. I’m not saying that he’s not a talented warrior, but to debut with Strikeforce and become a featured fighter on the Challengers series while only sporting a 2-1 record? Yep, that’s his last name at work.

Strikeforce has managed to bring Couture along slowly, increasing the level of competition he fights in each pro fight. First, it was 2-5 Lucas Stark, then 2-1 Lee Higgins, before Couture finally locked horns with a 5-0 fellow prospect who proved to be too much for him. Watson, at 4-1, is just a small step back.

Where Ricehouse brought the threat of a standup game to the cage against Couture, Watson is a grappler. This could become a jiu-jitsu exhibition, or we could see the two fighters test their striking. I think it’ll be a little of both.

Ryan Couture (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

In the end, Couture still has the advantage of a legendary last name and the exposure to a higher level of training that comes with it. Watson provides another tough test for him, but one that’s geared to play more to his strengths than the Ricehouse bout did. Couture gets back on the right track with a late submission win.

Smith: Couture may have his legendary father in his corner, but Watson has an equally strong support system behind him. After beginning his career under the tutelage of B.J. Penn, Watson has moved back to mainland America to join Wanderlei Silva’s gym.

That being said, Couture has genetics on his side. The 29-year-old is the more athletic fighter in this matchup and that could prove to be the difference maker in a bout between two fairly inexperienced opponents.

Both fighters are coming off of losses to undefeated opponents, but Watson may have had a weakness exposed in his submission defense. Couture has the ground game to exploit that, so I will also go with a late submission win for Couture.

Adams: I’m looking forward to “The Natural’s” son Ryan stepping back in the cage to rebound from the only loss of his career. This is something all fighters need to learn, to get back on track and continue down your MMA career.

Couture will be matched up with a bit of an unknown to many people in Watson, but Watson should be ready to come out and show that just because he doesn’t have a legendary last name, he is a talented fighter.

Even with that said though, Couture seems to be the logical pick. As Bryan stated, he has great training partners around him every day, as well as his dad in his corner. I’ll ditto my panelists’ pick and take Couture by submission.

HW: Lavar Johnson (15-4) vs. Shawn Jordan (11-3)

Henderson: There was a point where Lavar Johnson appeared to be headed for the top of Strikeforce’s heavyweight division. Shane del Rosario was able to knock that train off its tracks when he submitted Johnson in February. Now, it looks like Johnson is getting a fight against Shawn Jordan that is high-risk and high-reward.

Shawn Jordan (l) in his last outing vs. Devin Cole (Esther Lin/Strikeforce)

Jordan is a knockout artist in the same vein as Johnson, only larger. Given the combined 21 knockout victories between these two fighters, it’s not hard to imagine someone staring up at the lights when the dust settles here.

Unfortunately for Jordan, that man would seem to be Johnson. The Pro Buhawe product has tested his fists against fellow strikers such as Lolohea Mahe, Carl Seumanutafa and Virgil Zwicker. Johnson can handle a slugfest, it’s the submission game that gives him issues.

Jordan has posted two wins via submission, but there’s no doubt he prefers to use his fists to finish fights. That plays into Johnson’s game, as the Strikeforce and WEC veteran will get the better of the exchanges and eventually find a home for a knockout blow. I’ll be surprised if we get to the second round, as Johnson should score an early knockout win.

Smith: Johnson’s loss in his last fight definitely took some wind out of his sails, but there is no shame in losing to del Rosario, who is considered one of the most promising young heavyweights outside of the UFC.

In his last fight, Jordan dropped a unanimous decision against Devin Cole. However, Jordan had an impressive first round after taking the fight on short notice as a replacement for none other than Johnson.

Incredibly, Jordan competed only six days prior to his fight with Cole, which caused him to fade in the later rounds. If his fight with Johnson goes into deep waters, I don’t see Jordan’s conditioning playing nearly as much of a part in the outcome.

Lavar Johnson (Jeff Sherwood/Sherdog)

My brain is telling me that Johnson will be able to keep this fight standing and score a knockout. Sometimes you have to go with your gut, though, and my gut is telling me Jordan will put Johnson on the ground early. From there, Jordan will take Johnson’s back as he did early in his fight against Cole. Unlike Cole, Johnson won’t be able to fight off Jordan’s rear-naked choke, which will lead to a second straight submission defeat.

Adams: Expect a good, close battle in the co-main event. Johnson needs a win to get back on track and will also have the advantage in the stand-up department. Also in search of a victory is Jordan, who is also capable of striking, but as my fellow panelists mentioned, like to take fights to the mat.

I’m leaning more towards Bryan’s pick of Johnson. Look for Johnson to use his explosive striking to get a knockout early in round two.

LHW: Lorenz Larkin (11-0) vs. Nick Rossborough (18-13)

Smith: A devastating striker, Lorenz Larkin was originally scheduled to meet Virgil Zwicker at Strikeforce Challengers 19. However, Nick Rossborough has now filled in to meet Larkin after an injury forced Zwicker off the card.

Put simply, there’s a reason Rossborough wasn’t given this fight to begin with. With a mediocre record of 18-13, Rossborough is not on the same level as Larkin. However, Rossborough was given “Leatherface” as a nickname for a reason. He does possess a solid chin, so there’s a chance he can take Larkin to the scorecards.

That being said, the decision will most likely be lopsided if the bout does complete all three rounds. Larkin is too athletic and talented to be threatened in any way by Rossborough. Larkin takes this fight on the scorecards.

Adams: In my eyes, this is a lopsided fight for a Strikeforce main event. If it were up to me, I would’ve moved this fight down in the card and place either the Johnson-Jordan or even the Couture-Watson fights before this bout.

However, I’m hoping Rossborough comes in with a good demeanor and looks to put on a good performance. His record isn’t impressive while traveling among the small circuits, but he has faced Court McGee and even defeated Chris Camozzi.

But when it comes down to overall talent, Larkin is miles ahead. “The Monsoon” is one of the most athletic guys in the Strikeforce light heavyweight division and has tremendous knockout ability. Don’t expect Larkin to slack off any with a new fighter put in front of him.

The stat about Rossborough having only been knocked out once in his career and with the nickname “Leatherface” is impressive, but my hunch is that Larkin will be able to make that two knockout losses for Rossborough. I’ll call it ending early by a punch in the opening round.

Henderson: I was disappointed when I heard Virgil Zwicker was out of this fight. Zwicker versus Larkin was an intriguing match-up

Lorenz Larkin (Esther Lin/Strikeforce)

worthy of headlining a Challengers card, and could have produced an emerging star for the Strikeforce light heavyweight division. Now, we get Rossborough in Zwicker’s place. The bout goes from intriguing to uninspiring in a hurry.

Larkin is still undefeated, while handing losses to the likes of Scott Lighty and Gian Villante under the Strikeforce banner. He’s shown an impressive skill set and the ability to score knockouts.

Rossborough might have defeated Camozzi and faced a couple of other name opponents, but he’s nowhere near Larkin when it comes to skills. He’ll need to drag Larkin to the mat and test the striker’s submission defense. It’s the one area where Rossborough might have a shot.

I don’t think that shot will amount to anything though. I’m with my fellow panelists on this one: It’s a lopsided match-up. Larkin destroys Rossborough for either a first-round or early second-round stoppage.

Top Photo: Lorenz Larkin delivers a big elbow to the head of Scott Lighty (Esther Lin/Strikeforce)