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Strikeforce Challengers series makes Las Vegas its new home

All future Challengers cards will be held at the Palms starting with event on July 22

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Justin M. Bowen

Scene from inside The Pearl at The Palms Casino for “The Ultimate Fighter” Finale.

UFC 132, which is slated for July 2 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, will not serve as Las Vegas’ last major mixed martial arts event of the summer as previously expected.

Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker announced before Saturday’s UFC 130 that the promotion’s Strikeforce Challengers fight cards will permanently move to Las Vegas later this year. The first event is scheduled for July 22 at the Palms’ Pearl Theater.

“The Palms wanted to have more fights,” Coker said. “They’re getting them. It sounds like a win-win relationship. We’re going to go there and make it our home.”

It’s unclear how many Challengers cards Strikeforce will schedule for the rest of the year, but at least three or four seem likely. The promotion started holding the Challengers cards, which showcase up-and-coming talent and air on Showtime, two years ago and has put on 15 events under the title.

July’s date at the Palms will be the 17th installment and feature a headlining bout between Roger Bowling (23-8) and Bobby Voelker (9-1). The two fought twice on Challengers events last year with Cincinnati’s Bowling winning the first via decision and Kansas City’s Voelker getting revenge with a TKO in the rematch.

Strikeforce has never held an event in Nevada. The promotion was based in San Jose, Calif., and the biggest competition to the UFC before Zuffa, the UFC’s parent company, purchased Strikeforce earlier this year.

“Prior to being purchased, we were looking for a home to take the Challengers fight cards,” Coker said. “We turned to a lot of different casinos, but never really tried to come to Vegas for obvious reasons.”

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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