Last year, though, was a tough year for Wilcox. After fighting in March, he had multiple fights fall through and didn't end up fighting again until November when he took a unanimous decision from Vitor Ribeiro at Strikeforce Challengers 12. Now, "The Silverback" says he's rested up and ready to go for his Strikeforce Challengers 15 main event with Rodrigo Damm on Friday in Stockton, Calif.
"My camp was so long, it was like eight months long, so by the time I got to fighting Shaolin I was mentally and physically broken down," Wilcox said on Bloody Elbow Radio two weeks ago. "I just told myself to go 15 minutes, 15 minutes hard. I got sick the day of the fight, nobody knows because you don't tell anybody that stuff, but I was sick the day of the fight and my body was so broken down. My training camp was so long. I put Jon Fitch through his camp with Thiago Alves, I still hadn't fought and I worked with him for B.J. Penn. It was just such a long camp."
Still, despite being drained, Wilcox dominated the fight, winning it 30-27 on all three judge's scorecards. Wilcox sees that fight as a positive experience for him going forward, as it helped build confidence in his skills.
"As I look back at that and talking to my coaches, I did everything we wanted to do," he said. "We shut down his game plan all together and now I'm just working on opening up a little bit more. Looking to get more finishes. My last two fights I've just been working on a lot of stuff, just being able to become a well-rounded MMA fighter so I can compete with the best in the world. Now I'm more confident with my overall game. If I go in for a kill and get taken down, that's all right. I have confidence in my skills to get back to my feet. Now I've just been working on shutting people out."
Following the "Shaolin" fight, Wilcox took some much-needed time off to get his body right after the long grind of constant training. The time off didn't stop Wilcox, a former bodybuilder, from hitting the gym to weight train.
"When I say taking time off, I'm actually going back to the gym, hitting some weights, getting my tendons strong again and stuff like that," he said. "I really stayed away from the MMA scene for about two to three weeks and really focused on jogging light and getting my muscle quality back up. I really don't even take time off. I have to be working out."
The time off from MMA, though, was a "nice refresher," Wilcox said. He didn't want to take too much time off from the sport, though, because of how competitive the atmosphere is at American Kickboxing Academy. He called the atmosphere there contagious.
"Iron sharpens iron here," Wilcox said. "The quality of guys here is just so high. If you wait too long and come back, you're going to get a butt whooping, so I don't ever like being away too much. I always like to be in the grind learning. I don't want anybody getting ahead of me."
When he fights Damm in the main event Friday, Wilcox is looking forward to one particular change: The ability to now throw elbows in Strikeforce. With Zuffa's buyout of Strikeforce, they have enacted the full unified rules, and that includes elbows to the head of a grounded opponent.
"Being a wrestler, I like being a top guy, I love the idea of elbows," Wilcox said. "Before i got into Strikeforce, I was fighting in the Midwest being able to throw those and I love elbows. You can really put somebody away real fast. With me, being a little stockier, I'm able to get my elbows in there a little tighter. I really like the elbow rule."
You can hear the entire interview with Wilcox on the March 17 edition of Bloody Elbow Radio. The show returns to the air at 4 p.m. ET Tuesday to talk all the latest in mixed martial arts.