Now that UFC 100 is in the books, it's time to begin the quest for another 100 events along with the quest for mainstream exposure.
What better way to begin this journey than with a long awaited title fight and a star studded light heavyweight match up at the upcoming UFC 101.
UFC 101 has all of the components to be a legendary fight card, but it has big shoes to fill after following perhaps the best card we as MMA fans have seen to date.
As the event quickly approaches the trash talk between fighters and fans alike is bound to begin. Many questions are burning in the minds of MMA fans and to help answer those I'd like to present you with "the what if's of UFC 101."
What if Kenny Florian pulls off the upset?
It has been nearly three years since Kenny Florian last fought for the lightweight title against Sean Sherk at UFC 64. In that fight Florian undertook five rounds of bloody and ruthless destruction from a much bigger, stronger, and overall better Sean Sherk. Since that fight it appears that Florian has completely revamped every aspect of his MMA game.
His newly improved striking has vaulted him into the ranks of the UFC's elite and has helped to knock off skilled competitors such as Roger Huerta and Joe Lauzon. Being an underdog in the upcoming title shot against BJ Penn leaves Florian with nothing to lose. He has vowed to push the pace and judging by his recent performances it seems he will do just that.
If Kenny Florian defeats BJ Penn the UFC will be introduced to a champion that has endured struggles and hardships throughout his career. The majority of Florian's talent can certainly be chalked up to his rigorous training and all or nothing attitude.
If Florian does infact become the new champ the blue collar individual will finally be represented amongst the ranks of the UFC's title holders. Florian will then move onto face Diego Sanchez in a fight that surely won't disappoint.
What if BJ Penn successfully defends his title?
Coming off of a physically demanding loss to Georges St. Pierre back in January, BJ Penn is at the cross roads of his career and is faced with a career-defining title defense against Kenny Florian. One thing that must be taken into consideration is that the fight against GSP was at 170 pounds, even the casual MMA fan can figure out that BJ Penn at 170 pounds isn't nearly as dangerous as BJ Penn at 155 pounds.
Penn has won his last three fights at 155 in impressive fashion. Having beaten the only other two fighters to hold the lightweight title it is clear that BJ Penn is the most dominant lightweight in UFC history, but if he is able to beat Kenny Florian he will put himself amongst the best fighters of all time.
If Penn does beat Florian the GSP loss will be long gone from his memory and like he has done in the past he will go on an absolute tear. Diego Sanchez will be sitting ringside and is sure to jump into the octagon after the fight, and if Penn is deemed victorious some interesting trash talk between the two will surely ensue.
What if Forrest Griffin walks away victorious?
Forrest Griffin's roller coaster of an MMA career has certainly faced the 30-year-old with much adversity, especially in recent times. Griffin went from being on top of the world and perhaps the most popular mixed martial artist on the planet to quickly losing the light heavyweight title to Rashad Evans back in December.
Griffin was then slated to face fierce Brazilian Thiago Silva but then was soon upgraded to face Brazil's very own version of Goliath in Anderson Silva. Silva has basically cleaned out the UFC's middleweight division with one arm tied behind his back. What better person to pull off the upset than the hard-nosed American fighter Forrest Griffin in the heart of one of the most important cities in Amercia's history?
If Griffin can in fact emerge as the victor of this fight, it will pose many interesting match making possibilities for UFC match maker Joe Silva. Griffin may face the winner of the upcoming Thiago Silva/Keith Jardine match or perhaps the most recent addition to the 205 division Rich Franklin. A win for Griffin will also prove to fans that he still has what it takes to be their hero and will also show a tremendous amount of heart like he has shown so many times in the past.
What if the Spyder does as usual?
It won't be a shock to many people at all if Anderson Silva's hand is raised at the end of his super match with Forrest Griffin. Silva has torn through every opponent he's faced in the UFC whether it be at 185 pounds or even 205 pounds. Being an over-sized middleweight the day has been long awaited for Anderson Silva to face someone who is naturally bigger and stronger than him.
The day and opponent has finally come for Silva, but what if Silva runs through Griffin or even beats him in a close decision? This will prove to fans and UFC personnel alike that Anderson Silva may in fact be a legitimate candidate to hold two UFC belts simultaneously. In all seriousness, if the Spyder defeats Forrest Griffin his next fight will most likely take place once again in the light heavy weight division.
Even though Silva has publically stated that he refuses to fight fellow Brazilian and current light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida due to their close friendship, there are still plenty of interesting and worthy opponents in the UFC's light heavyweight division for Anderson Silva to take on. Rampage Jackson, Rashad Evans, Thiago Silva, even up and comer Luiz Cane would be an interesting matchup for the Brazilian wrecking machine.
Regardless of whether or not a title shot is in his near future, if Anderson Silva defeats Forrest Griffin we may in fact see the dawning of a new era. That is the Anderson Silva light heavyweight dominance era.
These are just a few questions posed for the upcoming UFC 101. Regardless of the outcome of each of these fights, it is sure to be a night that will go down in history.
Will we see a new title holder in the UFC's lightweight division or will BJ Penn show the world that he has alot more to offer?
Will America be graced with an upset from one of its very own, or will we see the emergence of a new era from one of the greatest fighters we've seen to date?