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Strikeforce Challengers Preview and Predictions

Justin Wilcox kicks Shamar Bailey.The first Strikeforce event since the UFC bought the promotion takes place Friday night in Stockton, with a Challengers event that we've been told over and over again will be "business as usual" -- with the exception of elbows to the head on the ground being allowed.

Where it won't be business as usual, however, is that the guys in the Challengers shows now have more on the line than they did before: Impressive wins will likely result in Challengers fighters eventually moving on to the UFC. But with the UFC/Strikeforce merger concentrating almost all the major league MMA in one place, those who fail to impress on the Challengers show are going to have an awfully hard time making it as a professional fighter.

What: Strikeforce Challengers 15: Wilcox vs. Damm

Where: Stockton Arena, Stockton, California

When: Friday, the Showtime televised card begins at 11 PM ET

Predictions on the five televised fights below.

Justin Wilcox vs. Rodrigo Damm
Damm is back in Strikeforce for the first time since losing a lightweight title fight to Gilbert Melendez two years ago. Damm didn't deserve to be in a title fight then, and he hasn't been particularly impressive since, and I expect Wilcox to out-wrestle Damm and win a one-sided unanimous decision for his sixth straight victory.
Pick: Wilcox

David Douglas vs. Caros Fodor
Fodor has an excellent ground game and is coming off a great brabo choke submission victory on a Challengers card last year. But I like Douglas to use his superior strength to control Fodor on the ground and win a decision.
Pick: Douglas

Lorenz Larkin vs. Scott Lighty
Larkin has built up an 8-0 record while fighting for smaller shows, and now he'll make his Strikeforce debut against Lighty on short notice, taking the fight after Satoshi Ishii had to drop out. Lighty is a very good striker and will be Larkin's toughest opponent to date, but I like Larkin to win what should be a very exciting fight.
Pick: Larkin

James Terry vs. Josh Thornburg
Thornburg took the fight on short notice after Conor Huen dropped out, and that's one strike against him. The other strike against him is that he doesn't have the stand-up game to deal with Terry, a Cung Le student who has an impressive array of punches and kicks and should win by TKO.
Pick: Terry

Damion Douglas vs. Wayne Phillips
Damion is the twin brother of David, but I don't see this as a 2-0 night for the Douglas family. Phillips fought on two Strikeforce undercards last year and won both fights, and I see him winning his TV debut.
Pick: Phillips

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