Justin Wilcox (left) vs. Vitor Ribeiro: Rich Hundley III/Strikeforce
Despite his assertions to the contrary, Vitor Ribeiro could not keep the fight out of the judges’ hands on Friday night. This time, however, there was no controversy, as “Shaolin” dropped a unanimous decision to Justin Wilcox in the main event of Strikeforce Challengers 12 at the Jackson Convention Complex in Jackson, Miss.
Wilcox outboxed Ribeiro over three rounds in a bout which saw the Brazilian mostly moving backwards to escape “The Silverback’s” stinging punches. After having his face reddened and nose bloodied by the jab of Wilcox in the opening frame, Ribeiro tried unsuccessfully to bring the fight to the floor several times in the second, only to be met by sprawls and more punches.
In the final round, facing a shutout, the ground specialist Ribeiro resorted to attempts at pulling guard. Wilcox would have none of it, though, and stayed the course on the feet, repeatedly finding his mark with a left jab and follow-up right. In the end, judges Larry Ingle, Kelly Leo and Chris Gates each saw the bout as a clean sweep with scorecards of 30-27, giving Wilcox his fifth straight win and prompting the American Kickboxing Academy product to call out unbeaten Strikeforce lightweight Lyle Beerbohm post-fight.
“I’ve been asking for that fight, and for some reason it doesn’t happen,” said Wilcox. “You know, he keeps on calling out all the big dogs. I mean, if he wants a fight, I’m your Huckleberry.”
One of the night’s more anticipated fights was cut short almost as soon as it began, as the welterweight scrap between Marius Zaromskis and Waachiim Spiritwolf ended in a frustrating no contest.
Zaromskis flew across the cage at the opening bell with a flying knee, but accidentally caught Spiritwolf with a finger in the left eye during the attack. After a few minutes of pacing in his corner and trying to recover, Spiritwolf told the cageside physician that he could no longer see from they eye -- which was cut on the inside, near the bridge of the nose – prompting the match be waved off after only six seconds.
“Here in Mississippi, they are progressive. They took the opportunity to review the video, to make sure that it was an accidental eye poke,” Strikeforce rules director Cory Schafer said after the bout. “That’s an accidental foul that happens in the first round. It did not go the majority of rounds. If a fighter cannot continue due to an accidental foul, that’s a no contest.”
In the evening’s light heavyweight co-main event, Antwain Britt nearly met a similar fate when former University of Tennessee linebacker Ovince St. Preux pushed off of Britt’s face with his hand on a body kick, accidentally jabbing his opponent in the eye seconds into their match. After having the eye rinsed out by the doctor, Britt was able to resume and take part in a see-saw battle which saw him drop the first round before handily taking the second.
Despite appearing to tire by the end of the middle round, St. Preux flipped the script in the last stanza, slamming Britt to the canvas and grinding out the round from guard. When referee Houston Dorr stood the fighters up with 45 seconds remaining, St. Preux put his stamp on the bout by stuffing one last desperation shot from Britt and pounding away until the final bell. Judges Larry Ingle, Kelly Leo and David Ferguson each saw the bout 29-28 for St. Preux, his fifth straight win.
Female prospect Liz Carmouche stayed unbeaten by reaping the leg of Jan Finney for a number of trips during their 135-pound contest. After dominating from top position for much of the first and second rounds, Carmouche brought Finney down early in the third and pounded away until referee Chris Gates leapt in for the save at the 1:30 mark.
In the lightweight opener of the televised card, Derek Getzel pushed Caros Fodor around the fence for the better part of the first round before being sent to the canvas with a trip. There, the Matt Hume protégé Fodor showed off his submission savvy, sinking in a deep brabo choke from half-guard before rolling to finish. Gretzel’s face turned red almost immediately, and referee David Ferguson stepped in to halt the action 4:39 into the bout.
On the non-televised undercard, former police officer and one-time NFL draft pick Wes Shivers knocked out Goldman Butler at 2:15 of the first round of their heavyweight tilt.
Light heavyweight Jacob Noe took a unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28) over Wes Little.
One-time Bellator middleweight veteran Jeremiah Riggs earned a unanimous nod (29-28, 29-28, 29-28) against James Sharp.
Anthony Mitchell submitted Jeffrey Hedgepeth via guillotine choke at 2:02 of the first round.
Thomas Vasquez struck his way to a technical knockout at 2:11 of the third round in his fight against Brian Hall.
Joel Cooper forced Brian Burse to tap out to an armbar 87 seconds into their match.
Opening the pro portion of the card, Kent DuBose beat Travis Robertson via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28).