Looking for the first three-fight winning streak of his MMA career, Amir Sadollah was defeated in a dominant decision win for Duane Ludwig in August. Now, Sadollah will try to avoid losing back-to-back contests for the first time against Jorge Lopez at UFC on Fuel TV 3.
Lopez, who had won 10 straight fights leading into his UFC debut, was beaten by Justin Edwards in September. Coming out of Wanderlei Silva's Wand Fight Team, there were high expectations for Lopez, who will now have to get back on a winning track in order to keep his spot on the UFC's welterweight roster.
Before what will be an extremely pivotal bout in the careers of both fighters, let's take a look at whether Sadollah or Lopez has a better chance of earning victory on Tuesday.
Though Amir Sadollah has never won a fight by knockout, he possesses some of the more technical striking in the welterweight division. And he did finish DaMarques Johnson by submission due to elbows. Despite meeting up with an even better striker in Duane Ludwig in his last appearance, Sadollah was able to land 95 significant strikes.
Jorge Lopez, meanwhile, was out-struck by a margin of 72 to 64 against a lower-tier welterweight in Justin Edwards. While many of Edwards' landed strikes occurred on the ground, Lopez was still mostly unimpressive on his feet.
If this fight stays standing, the straight punches and kicks of Sadollah will pick apart the more wild and aggressive striking style of Lopez.
Unsuccessful in eight takedown attempts against Ludwig, it is a good thing for Sadollah that he won't have much interest in taking Lopez to the ground. However, Sadollah's troubles with takedown defense will hurt him in this matchup.
Sadollah has been taken down in all but three fights, one of which he was quickly knocked out by Johny Hendricks, so Lopez shouldn't have much trouble avoiding his opponent's stand-up game in this matchup.
Though he came out on the losing end of the fight, Lopez was successful in all three of his takedown attempts on Edwards and stuffed 11 of 13 takedown attempts by his opponent in that bout.
The problem with taking Amir Sadollah to the ground is that The Ultimate Fighter winner is a skilled grappler. He is easily capable of reversing Jorge Lopez and working his way back to his feet or finishing the fight with strikes, as he did against DaMarques Johnson.
Lopez possesses heavy and aggressive ground-and-pound, but he has not shown that his top control is strong enough to remain on top of Sadollah long enough to finish the fight or even grind out a decision victory. A sambo black belt, Sadollah will make Lopez pay for any mistakes he makes on the ground.
Even if he is unable to reverse Lopez on the ground, Sadollah showed dangerous submission ability in his run toward winning The Ultimate Fighter. The reality series saw Sadollah force both C.B. Dollaway and Matt Brown to tap—two fighters with much more proven ground games than Lopez.
In 13 professional fights, Lopez has never been submitted. However, don't be surprised if the youngster is forced to tap for the first time against Sadollah, who is far and away the toughest opponent Lopez will have ever faced.
There is no question that Amir Sadollah is the more experienced fighter heading into this fight. Though he has less fights under his belt, Sadollah has spent his entire MMA career competing under the UFC banner, whereas Jorge Lopez has only entered the Octagon once.
Sadollah is also the more cerebral fighter in comparison with Lopez, who very much follows the style of Wanderlei Silva by being aggressive from the outset in all his fights.
While Lopez may be stronger and more aggressive than his opponent, Sadollah's reach will help him keep distance on his feet, which could make it easier for the 31-year-old to defend takedowns and keep this fight where he wants it.
Both Sadollah and Lopez have gone the distance plenty of times in their careers, so conditioning should not be a factor in this fight.
It's been almost four years since Amir Sadollah last forced an opponent to tap, but he has also not been forced to the ground by someone as inexperienced as Jorge Lopez. Lopez may have never been submitted in his 13 professional fights, but he has not gone to the ground with a fighter on Sadollah's level.
Whether it's included in his pre-fight game plan or not, Lopez is going to want to take this fight to the ground once he discovers that he has no answer for Sadollah's more technical striking ability. While he should be able to take Sadollah to the ground with relative ease, surviving once the fight hits the canvas will be another story.
At worst, Sadollah should be able to quickly escape back to his feet and continue striking with Lopez. However, Sadollah will first look to lock up a submission and Lopez will suffer his second straight loss due to an armbar, which could lead to his release from the UFC.
Sadollah defeats Lopez by submission (armbar) in the first round.