Justin Wilcox (top) mauled Rodrigo Damm. | Jeff Sherwood/Sherdog.com
Justin Wilcox turned Rodrigo Damm’s Strikeforce return into a five-minute nightmare.
The surging American Kickboxing Academy representative smashed through Damm with improved standup and crushing ground-and-pound en route to an impressive first-round doctor’s stoppage in the Strikeforce Challengers 15 headliner on Friday at the Stockton Arena in Stockton, Calif. The bout was halted in between rounds one and two, giving Wilcox his sixth consecutive victory.
“I train at the best camp,” Wilcox said. “That’s all I can say.”
After his latest performance, few could argue. The 155-pound powerhouse blitzed Damm from the start, as he wobbled the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt with a powerful head kick and later dropped him with a crackling straight right hand. Another blow to the grounded Sengoku Raiden Championship veteran drew blood, and Wilcox did not relent. The San Jose, Calif.-based lightweight chewed up Damm with heavy ground-and-pound for the remainder of the round. At the conclusion of the first five minutes, the cageside physician had seen enough.
Wilcox has his sights set on more meaningful fights.
“You know where my eyes are,” he said. “My eyes are always on the gold. I’m looking towards the stars.”
In the co-main event, David “Tarzan” Douglas was no match for Caros Fodor.
A student of Matt Hume, Fodor dismantled Douglas with a multi-pronged offensive attack, ultimately stopping him with a volley of third-round strikes. Unable to fight back against the cage, Douglas left the referee no choice but to intervene on his behalf 2:12 into round three. One last knee to the gut punctuated it.
Afterward, Fodor credited Hume with his ascent.
“He’s meant everything to me,” Fodor said. “I’m where I’m at because of him.”
Fodor grinded down Douglas with a rugged clinch game. He struck beautifully in close quarters, worked into top position in the first round and dropped elbows on his opponent’s face. He later threatened Douglas with a topside kimura, though he decided to relinquish his hold as his foe clutched desperately to his own shorts.
By the start of round two, Douglas was a spent force. Fodor twice tried to finish him with guillotine chokes, moved to a mounted position and let loose with a stream of punches and elbows. From there, it was only a matter of time. He clinched with the winded Douglas as third round began and battered him from head to toe with knees and punches until it was stopped.
Meanwhile, unbeaten light heavyweight prospect Lorenz Larkin dazzled in his promotional debut, as he blistered Scott Lighty with relentless power and speed. Lighty succumbed to the onslaught 3:15 into the second round.
Larkin set the table for victory from the word go with thudding leg kicks and clean, crisp punches. The 24-year-old Californian swarmed Lighty with blows in the final minute of the first round, twice forcing the John Hackleman understudy to seek refuge on the ground. There was none to be found.
Lighty’s situation did not improve in the second period, as Larkin made him pay for a takedown attempt.
He again drove Lighty to the mat and unleashed some powerful ground-and-pound, elbows and punches his weapons of choice. Lighty rose on wobbly legs, ate a nasty left uppercut to the nose and went down for the last time after being met with another.
“I just wanted to test myself,” Larkin said. “I want to come here, and I want to stay here.”
Elsewhere, James Terry knocked out Josh Thornburg with a devastating counter right hand in a featured catchweight tilt. A protégé of former Strikeforce middleweight champion Cung Le, Terry fired the fight-ending blow over a weak Thornburg jab 4:38 into round one.
Terry dominated the fight while it lasted, as he landed a variety of strikes on Thornburg, a late replacement for the injured Conor Heun. Overhand rights, leg kicks, textbook combinations and even a Superman punch kept Thornburg on his heels, until Terry folded him where he stood.
“It feels great,” Terry said. “Josh was tough. I’m really glad I was able to finish this fight. I think that’s been my Achilles’ heel in my career. That’s two knockouts in a row.”
In his first appearance in more than two years, Damion Douglas eked out a contentious majority decision over AKA representative Wayne Phillips. Two of the three cageside judges sided with Douglas by 29-28 and 30-27 counts; a third cast a dissenting 29-28 vote in Phillips’ favor.
Douglas controlled the first four minutes, as he scored with a pair of takedowns, took his opponent’s back twice and aimed to finish it with a rear-naked choke. Phillips escaped and made his move, as the Cesar Gracie disciple faded late in round one. He delivered a takedown of his own and cinched a tight rear-naked choke with 10 seconds to go. Only the horn saved Douglas from certain defeat.
The action in rounds two and three slowed to a crawl, as both men were driven back by fatigue. Douglas resurfaced in the third and landed the more meaningful strikes down the stretch, perhaps swaying the judges to his side. A three-punch combination with 20 seconds to go punctuated the victory.
“I was more aggressive,” Douglas said. “I was hitting harder, and I did more damage.”
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