It seems as if the dust has finally settled following the UFC's much hyped 100th event, which featured one of the most dominant fighters in the game in GSP as he dominated Thiago Alves to defend his welterweight crown.
Brock Lesnar made headlines not only with his win, but with his post-fight behavior, which now has him labeled as the "first villain of the UFC." Tito Ortiz and Dana White kissed and made up, while Fedor Emilianenko and White once again failed to reach a promotional agreement.
Amid all of the recent events surrounding the sport of MMA, the UFC's upcoming, and very solid, fight card seems to have been lost in the shuffle.
Yet here we are with UFC 101: Declaration just a couple of days away.
Televised live on pay-per-view from the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia, PA, BJ Penn will put his lightweight title on the line against Kenny "Ken-Flo" Florian, while pound-for-pound great Anderson "The Spider" Silva will move up in weight class to take on The Ultimate Fighter inaugural season winner, Forrest Griffin.
Amir Sadollah vs. Johny Hendricks, Kendall Grove vs. Ricardo Almeida, and Kurt Pellegrino vs. Josh Neer will round out the televised portion of the 11 scheduled fights.
BJ Penn vs. Kenny Florian - BJ "The Prodigy" Penn (13-5-1) looks to bounce back from his failed attempt to wrestle the welterweight title from Georges St. Pierre back in January.
Florian will attempt to be the latest fighter to make the transition from The Ultimate Fighter contestant to bona fide world champion.
Some writers find this to be a competitive matchup while others see it as a mismatch. I'm one of the latter.
In the past five years, the only men to beat Penn have been GSP, Matt Hughes, and current light heavyweight champ Lyoto Machida. The fact of the matter is Kenny Florian (11-3) is no GSP, Hughes, or Machida.
In Penn, Florian takes on one of the pound-for-pound elite in the sport of MMA. His ground game is phenomenal as he is dangerous in any position and his striking is just as impressive.
While Florian has shown vast improvement and put together six big wins since his decision loss to Sean Sherk nearly three years ago, I just don't seeing him having enough to dethrone Penn.
If you break it down, Penn is pretty much better than Florian in just about every aspect of the game. His versatility and natural ability should be too much for Florian's heart and determination.
Even with Penn ranting to the media about being treated unfairly after his loss to GSP, I see "The Prodigy" outstriking Florian in several good exchanges before "Ken-Flo" takes it to the ground, where he is eventually submitted in the fourth round.
Anderson Silva vs. Forrest Griffin - Middleweight champion Anderson Silva will not be defending his title this Saturday when he moves up in weight against rugged former light heavyweight champ Forrest Griffin.
Silva (24-4) needs to make a statement in this fight and shed the criticism from his lackluster bout with Thales Leites.
Griffin's (16-5) last two losses were to Rashad Evans and Keith Jardine, both of which were from striking. As tough as Griffin has proven himself to be, it's still hard to imagine him withstanding the offensive mastery that Silva produces.
Griffin's size advantage will be the key to any sort of success for him on Saturday night. If he can manage to take the fight to the ground and position himself on top of Silva, he might be able to make it an interesting fight.
Ultimately, I see the explosive striking being the key to victory for Silva in a tough and exciting fight. Silva by an impressive TKO in the second round that puts the fans back on his side.
Amir Sadollah vs. Johny Hendricks - Amir Sadollah—remember him? Yup, the same guy that won The Ultimate Fighter 7. Sadollah's (1-0) absence from The Octagon since his win over CB Dollaway in TUF finale has come to an end as he takes on Johny Hendricks.
Hendricks (5-0) will be looking to score his sixth overall win, but his first in the UFC.
This fight will be interesting while they're both on their feet, as Hendricks has shown his powerful striking, but for me, it's all about whether or not Hendricks will be able to successfully defend himself from Sadollah's submission attempts. I don't see him making it to the final bell.
Sadollah submits him in the third round.
Kendall Grove Vs. Ricardo Almeida- Maui native Kendall "The Spyder" Grove (10-5, 1 NC) will enter the Wachovia Center looking to pick up his third consecutive win, while Ricardo Almeida (10-3) would like to build on the momentum from his win over Matt Horwich in April.
They have a common opponent in Patrick Cote, which resulted in losses for both men. Grove was stopped in the first round from strikes while Almeida dropped a split decision.
Fortunately for Grove, he won't have to worry about being taken out by strikes on Saturday night. The real threat to him will be avoiding being taken to the ground where Almeida is the far dominant fighter.
Unfortunately for Grove, that's exactly what I see happening. Grove will find a home for some solid knees while inside on the clinch but will eventually wind up on the mat.
Almeida submits Grove in the second round.
Josh Neer vs. Kurt Pellegrino - The televised opener between Neer and Pellegrino has the potential to take the "fight of the night" honor.
Both guys have lost two of their last six bouts, and have each squared off against Nate Diaz, where Pellegrino was choked out and Neer came up short in a split decision loss.
Josh Neer (25-7-1), the Militech-trained fighter, has the size advantage here, and that's what it's going to come down to in my opinion. His reach will keep Kurt Pellegrino (13-4) from finding success while on their feet. On the ground, Neer's size comes into play, as he won't make it easy for a Pellegrino submission.
The most exciting fight of the night comes to an end as the ref sees Pellegrino take enough punishment in the third round.
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