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Strikeforce Challengers: ‘The Silverback’ elbows his way to impressive win

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UFC bought Strikeforce two weeks ago and said the Showtime-televised promotion would continue to run with a "business as usual" approach. That didn't necessarily mean inside the cage.

The UFC eliminated the "no elbows to a grounded opponent" rule in Strikeforce. Justin Wilcox, a powerfully built former college wrestler, took full advantage of the added weapon. He mauled Rodrigo Damm with some big blasts, opening a huge gash over the Brazilian's left eye. The doctors advised a stoppage and Wilcox got the victory via TKO following the first round.

Wilcox's game improves with each fight. A muscle-bound freak who wrestled at Edinboro in Pennsylvania, Wilcox has come a long way with his striking game.

Tonight, it was his legs that through Damm for a loop. Wilcox set the tone just 40 seconds into the fight by blasting Damm with kick to the head. The kick was actually partially blocked by Damm's left arm, but he was rattled and put his back on the cage. Another Wilcox kick sent Damm into scramble mode. The Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt tried to settle the fight by getting a takedown. Wilcox's takedown defense was impenetrable.

Damm got to his feet, but was still out of it and kept moving in the same direction. With Damm scurrying to his left, he walked right into several more of those nasty head kicks. Around the 3:00 mark, a cut over Damm's eye starting leaking blood. He hit the deck again after absorbing a straight right. On the ground, Wilcox kept pushing Damm's head down, landing elbows and punches. By the end of the round, Damm's blood was all over the canvas. He had small cuts under both eyes and the big gash over his eye.

"It's messed up," joked Wilcox. "They let the 'Silverback' use elbows."

Wilcox credited his camp, American Kickboxing Academy. The striking coaches at AKA have done wonders. Wilcox (11-3, 5-1 Strikeforce) has the tools to become a real factor at lightweight. The 31-year-old has won five straight

Fodor completely outclasses Douglas

David Douglas looks the part, but tonight a guy with all the tools to be a great fighter. The thickly-muscled Douglas was greeted by an offensive onslaught from Carlos Fodor. Douglas quickly wore down and took a beat for eight-plus minutes. Fodor moved to 8-2 with the TKO victory at 2:12 of the third round.

Fodor actually apologize for a slow pace. Douglas couldn't have thought it was slow. He was dominated in the clinch and it was even worse on the ground. This is the first Strikeforce event where elbows to a grounded opponent were legal. Douglas ate dozens of elbows and found himself fighting off several guillotine attempts.

Douglas (8-3) had been fed some smallish opponents last two fights with Strikeforce.

Undercard results (Courtesy MMAjunkie):

Lorenz Larkin def. Scott Lighty via TKO (punches) - Round 2, 3:15

James Terry def. Josh Thornburg via knockout (punch) - Round 1, 4:38

Damion Douglas def. Wayne Phillips via split decision (28-29, 30-27, 29-28)

Untelevised prelims

Anthony Avila def. Rafael Rios via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

Robert Escalante def. Raul Sandoval via submission (armbar) - Round 1, 4:10

Tristen Arenal def. Tom Peterson via submission (armbar) - Round 1, 1:58

Ronald Carillo def. Adam Antolin via submission (rear-naked choke) - Round 1, 1:48

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