This past Friday night in Temecula, CA… Justin “The Silverback” Wilcox (12-5), made his Bellator debut defeating St. Petersburg’s own Akop Stepanyan (13-6).
The first round was controlled by Stepanyan’s stand up, using a heavy dose of low leg kicks to keep Wilcox off balance and take away his lead leg. He would have trouble finding his range, trying to close the distance on Stepanyan behind strikes, which in turn fell short due to Stepanyan’s foot work. Wilcox looked to mix in some of his own kicks, but was unable to find his mark on his attempted head kicks, and was also unable to secure any take downs. After this point, the fight seemed to be in cruise control for his Russian/Armenian opponent.
The first round ended with Wilcox sporting a limp and a hematoma on his left leg. Round 2 saw both men come out quickly looking to land big rights, neither landing anything of significance. A low kick by Stepanyan briefly knocked Wilcox off his feet.
About a minute into round 2, the fight changed drastically. A big spinning heel kick to the back of Wilcox’s head momentarily rocked him. Stepanyan followed up with yet another low leg kick, which is where Wilcox took advantage. He shot off his low leg kick and secured his first take down of the fight.
after some brief work in his opponents closed guard, Stepanyan worked his way up to one knee. This immediately gave Wilcox his opening, securing his back and putting his counterpart to sleep with a Rear Naked Choke, at 2:20 of Round 2.
with this win, Wilcox now advances to the next round of the Bellator Featherweight Tournament.
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