Bowling looked good in the early going, connecting to Voelker's chin with punches and taking Voelker to the canvas. But two minutes into the second round, Voelker grabbed Bowling in a Thai plumb and landed a hard knee to Bowling's chin, sending Bowling staggering backward.
From there, Voelker went on the attack, landing three punches to knock Bowling down and then nine unanswered punches on the ground before referee Josh Rosenthal stepped in and stopped the fight.
Voelker, who improved his record to 24-8, said he knew Bowling had been beating him, but he also knew Bowling would be susceptible standing up if he could catch him at the right time.
"He was winning the whole thing," Voelker said. "I knew I'd have to wait a little bit, weather the storm, and he'd lower his hands, fade a little bit and I'd catch him with something. And I did."
Bowling beat Voelker in May of 2010, then lost to him in a rematch in October. Now Voelker has won the rubber match, putting a major exclamation point on the trilogy, and on Friday night's Strikeforce Challengers card.
In other Strikeforce Challengers action:
-- Devin Cole beat Shawn Jordan by unanimous decision in a heavyweight fight that had some excitement early on but slowed down in the second and third rounds. Jordan, a former LSU fullback, showed that he's a big, strong, athletic guy in the early going: He hit Cole hard and was able to land a powerful takedown. But as the fight wore on, Jordan appeared to tire out, and Cole stayed in advantageous positions most of the way to grind out the decision.
-- Ovince St. Preux obliterated Joe Cason, forcing him to tap out to punches on the ground in the first round. St. Preux, a former University of Tennessee linebacker who has really come on of late in the cage, first knocked Cason down with a kick and then rained down punches on the ground, and Cason wanted no part of it and submitted. St. Preux is now on an eight-fight winning streak, and he's one of the most interesting fighters in the Strikeforce light heavyweight division.
-- Sarah Kaufman won an easy unanimous decision over Liz Carmouche, 30-27 on all three judges' cards. Kaufman bloodied up the mouth and nose of Carmouche with punches that were landing all night long, and Carmouche's takedown attempts -- which were so effective in her previous fight, against Marloes Coenen -- were completely ineffective against Kaufman. It wasn't a great fight, but it was a solid performance and a one-sided victory for Kaufman.
-- Adlan Amagov beat Ron Stallings by split decision in the fight that got the Showtime broadcast started. Amagov showed off crisp striking, a wide variety of kicks and some great throws in the first couple of rounds and just looked like a much more skillful fighter than Stallings early on. In the third round Amagov gassed and Stallings took advantage, but Stallings wasn't able to put Amagov in any real danger of being finished, and so Amagov was able to escape with the victory, 29-28 on two judges' cards. One judge scored it 29-28 for Stallings.
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