The fifteenth edition of the Strikeforce Challengers series is officially in the books after an exciting round of fights last night (April 1, 2011) in Stockton, CA. The main event featured American Kickboxing Academy's Justin Wilcox, as he battled former Strikeforce lightweight challenger Rodrigo Damm.
If this was a test for Wilcox, he passed with flying colors, as he absolutely pummeled the Brazilian for five full minutes.
Wilcox dropped Damm early with a big right hand and he never gave him a chance to recover, as he swarmed the former contender with punches.
He also punished him with elbows. That's right -- elbows are now allowed in Strikeforce.
Damm, to his credit, tried to shoot for takedowns to counter Wilcox's pressure but the former NCAA Division I All-American shrugged off each attempt and continued to abuse him with short punches.
The fight was millimeters away from being stopped on multiple occasions and by the time the horn sounded, Damm was a bloody mess. The cage-side doctor stopped the fight in between rounds giving Wilcox his first (technical) knockout victory under the Strikeforce banner.
In his post-fight celebration, Wilcox repeatedly pointed to his elbows, apparently very thankful that he was now allowed to use them after the Zuffa purchase of Strikeforce.
Wary of Douglas' dangerous striking, Fodor clinched early and clinched often in the first round, taking the Cesar Gracie fighter down whenever possible. Known for his crafty jiu-jitsu skills, Fodor played the top control game and worked for a kimura to steal the first round.
The second round was the story of the fight, though, as Fodor attained mount early and crushed Douglas with some devastating ground-and-pound, mixing in elbows to go along with a plethora of punches. Douglas had no answer for Fodor's suffocating top control and he was very slow to get up when the horn sounded.
A third round stoppage was only a matter of time as Fodor clinched an exhausted Douglas and battered him from the Muay Thai collar with uppercuts as well as painful knees to the head, body and legs.
Douglas showed his toughness by refusing to go down but after just over two minutes of punishment, the referee had seen enough and put a stop to the onslaught.
This was Fodor's first victory by way of knockout, but you wouldn't have known it after watching his performance last night.
Larkin pushed the pace early, bounding around the cage throwing kicks and punches from every direction. His aggressiveness was well on the way to earning him the first round when he put an exclamation point on it by dropping the accomplished striker at the end of the frame.
Larkin would not be denied in the second round as he dropped Lighty two more times, finishing the fight for good with a massive left hand that put the veteran on queer street. It was a fantastic performance and cage-side commentator Pat Miletich labeled Larkin as his "star of the night" in the post-event recap.
He certainly has a bright future in the promotion.
From the onset, it was apparent that Terry was the quicker man in the cage as he darted in and out, peppering Thornburg with combinations.
As the round wore on, Terry gained even more confidence in his striking and began finishing off his combos with head and body kicks.
Thornburg valiantly tried to respond but Terry repeatedly beat him to the punch and stunned him with an overhand right. When Thornburg responded with a weak left jab, Terry came over top with one last overhand right that put his lights out for good. In his post-fight speech, Terry thanked Cung Le and jokingly called out Ronnie from "The Jersey Shore" as his next opponent.
Good luck with that.
Lastly, welterweights Wayne Phillips and Damion Douglas did a poor job of warming up viewers in the opening bout of the televised portion in an unsatisfying and controversial decision.
Douglas hadn't fought in two and a half years and he fought with the gas tank of ... well ... a guy who hadn't fought in two and a half years. Phillips controlled the center of the cage early, pushing forward and nearly ending the fight via rear-naked choke at the end of the first round.
After taking the second round with top control and aggressive striking, Phillips fought very conservatively in the third and allowed a completely gassed Douglas to dictate the pace and steal the round. When the judges made their decision, they shockingly awarded Douglas a split decision, much to the ire of the Stockton crowd.
That's a wrap for us, Maniacs. Feel free to discuss the "Wilcox vs Damm" event in the comments below.