Justin Wilcox (left) is improving at mixing his strikes with takedowns. | Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
Strikeforce Challengers 15 kicks off on Friday at the Stockton Arena in Stockton, Calif. Pitting Justin Wilcox against Rodrigo Damm in the main event, the Challengers series soldiers ahead in wake of the UFC’s acquisition of Strikeforce.
In a potential firefight, kickboxing stylist Scott Lighty takes on unbeaten slugger Lorenz Larkin.
The show also features the Douglas brothers, David and Damian, in bouts that figure to make for good viewing action. The twins fight in the lightweight and welterweight classes, respectively, and bring live games into the fray, fighting aggressively and forcing confrontations in an effort to impose their will.
Here is a closer look at the card, the matchups and picks.
Justin Wilcox vs. Rodrigo Damm
The Matchup: Style-wise, Wilcox is reminiscent of former UFC lightweight champion Sean Sherk. Compact and aggressive, he pushes forward with willing strikes, backed up by a strong wrestling base. And like Sherk, his strikes are busy, but he does not carry knockout power, using them instead to set up takedowns while wearing out foes with a fast pace.
He showed a good sense of mixing up the two phases in his decision win over Vitor “Shaolin” Ribeiro in November, although, to be fair, the once-elite Brazilian’s best days are behind him.
Damm has had mixed results against better competition. His best wins are a knockout over the talented Jorge Masdival and a submission against Santino Defranco. He has also lost to mid-level veterans and was KO’d in two rounds in a bout against Gilbert Melendez for the interim Strikeforce title.
The Pick: This one has all the elements of a one-way wrasslin’ fest, with Wilcox supplying the takedowns and Damm supplying the looks to the ref for restarts -- a Matt Lindland special, if you will. Wilcox is not really a finisher and Damm will have to land something big early to seize the momentum, something not likely to happen given Wilcox’s durability and Damm’s modest striking ability. Wilcox by decision.
Continue Reading » Next Fight: Scott Lighty vs. Lorenz Larkin