Scorned ‘Shaolin’ Aims to Keep Fate Away from Judges

By Brian Knapp Nov 18, 2010
Vitor Ribeiro (top): Dave Mandel |

Six months have passed since Vitor “Shaolin” Ribeiro dropped a controversial split decision to Lyle Beerbohm at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, but the sting of defeat remains fresh for the Brazilian. Apparently, time does not heal all wounds.

Ribeiro -- who christened his professional mixed martial arts career with 19 wins in his first 20 appearances -- will meet the American Kickboxing Academy’s Justin Wilcox in the Strikeforce Challengers 12 headliner on Friday at the Jackson Convention Complex in Jackson, Miss. He wants nothing more than to keep his fate away from the scorecards, or at least to make the job of the judges easier.

“I left my last fight to the judges, so I’m going to try to not make that mistake again and finish the fight in three rounds,” Ribeiro said. “If I can’t, I’m going to dominate the three rounds and not leave any doubt in anyone’s mind about who won.”

A four-time Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion and former Shooto lightweight titleholder, Ribeiro will carry a two-fight losing streak into the match. The 31-year-old trains out of the same Nova Uniao camp as current UFC featherweight champion and pound-for-pound ace Jose Aldo. Wins over one-time Shooto welterweight king Tatsuya Kawajiri, former Dream lightweight titleholder Joachim Hansen and 2008 Dream lightweight grand prix quarter-finalist Mitsuhiro Ishida anchor the Ribeiro resume.

In search of his first victory in nearly two years, Ribeiro sees value in having his name on the marquee.

“This fight means a lot to me,” he said. “I’m really happy to be the main event in this show, and I think that’s what motivated me to train so hard the last few months. I feel great, and I’m ready to go.”

Wilcox, meanwhile, will enter the main event on a four-fight winning streak. Seven of his nine career wins have come by decision, including his unanimous nod over Shamar Bailey at Strikeforce Challengers 7 in March. Wilcox has lost only once -- to Mitsuhiro Ishida -- in the last four years.

“[Wilcox] sounds like a very powerful wrestler who has good hands,” Ribeiro said. “I’ll be ready to use my game plan, though, based on what I know about him.”
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