With just over a month left in the year, many fighters are facing their final opportunity to build momentum heading into 2011.
One fighter in particular who is looking to close out the year in a big way is American Kickboxing Academy up and comer Justin “The Silverback” Wilcox.
On Nov. 19, in Jackson, Miss., Wilcox faces off against former top-ranked lightweight Vitor “Shaolin” Ribeiro in a Strikeforce Challengers Series main event fight that was a long time in the making.
“When my manager, Bob Cook, would tell me we might have something lined up, things would fall through,” said Wilcox to MMAWeekly.com. “I was in and out of hard training for eight months, so it’s a little overdue, but I’m ready to go.”
Wilcox doesn’t seem hesitant to face a fighter who was once at the top of the division in Ribeiro.
“I’m the kind of fighter that got into this sport to fight, so I’m like, ‘let’s do it, let’s go,’” said Wilcox. “I’m a fighter at heart and I’ll pretty much fight anybody.
“At AKA, I’m training with top-level guys every day, so when I face top-level guys it really doesn’t intimidate me. We match up the way we match up and we’ll see how the chips fall.”
While Ribeiro is a world champion Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioner, he has been known to brawl from time to time. When asked if this plays into Wilcox’s game, he replied, “If he wants to brawl, we can brawl.
“I’m comfortable wherever the fight goes. If it goes to the ground I will be fine too.”
Either way, one word sums up Wilcox’s strategy for his fights.
“Enforce,” he stated. “That’s what I want to do with all my opponents. Enforce my will on them and use my game plan and not fall into theirs.”
A win over Ribeiro could go a long way towards putting Wilcox in contention to step onto Strikeforce’s main show in 2011.
“He’s been a world champion and I’ve got to train hard and beat him, and if I beat him, I’ll look forward to what they want to do with me next,” said Wilcox.
“I definitely want to work my way towards the title. That’s what I’m in the sport for, and this is the next step necessary to get there, so I’m ready.”
With an opportunity to firmly place himself in the mind of people as someone to watch, Wilcox promises not to disappoint on Nov. 19.
“I want to thank my lord and savior, Zinkin Entertainment, AKA, my wife and little girl,” he closed out. “All my fans out there, come out and watch ‘The Silverback’ get down. It’s going to be exciting, don’t miss it.”