Following the landmark event that was UFC 100, Dana White and company put together another card together that is heavy on firepower.
Not only do we see BJ Penn defend his lightweight title against Kenny Florian, Anderson Silva is set to see his first real competition at light heavyweight in former Champ Forrest Griffin.
And that’s not all. The undefeated Johnny Hendricks is making his UFC debut against former Ultimate Fighter winner Amir Sadollah, everyone’s favorite underdog. Kendall Grove is also on the main card as he takes on the 10-3 Ricardo Almeida and the preliminary fights are pretty solid fights all around.
Yes, you're getting same picture...there is only one of Penn to choose from and none of KenFlo but onto the analysis:
The legendary Penn is back at lightweight to defend his title. Penn’s last fight was his unsuccessful journey to welterweight, a loss to Georges St. Pierre. Penn is still Penn, though.
The future Hall of Famer last lost at lightweight in his UFC 35 match-up with Jens Pulver, a unanimous decision in 2002. Since, he has avenged his loss to Pulver and his only losses are to Lyoto Machida (the UFC Light Heavyweight Champion), a split decision loss to St. Pierre at UFC 58 (in addition to the more recent dominating TKO loss to GSP), and a TKO loss to Matt Hughes at UFC 63. “The Prodigy” has looked outstanding in his last three fights at lightweight: submissions of Jens Pulver and Joe Stevenson followed by a dominating TKO of Sean Sherk at UFC 84.
Meanwhile, KenFlo brings his 11-3 record and six fight win streak into the championship match-up. Florian, who holds seven victories by submissions, has wins over Joe Stevenson, Roger Hyerta and Joe Lauzon on his resume and was last stopped by Sean Sherk at UFC 64 in 2006.
The Prediction: KenFlo is dangerous and on a roll but BJ Penn is BJ Penn. He is downright scary at lightweight, routinely venturing out of the weight class but usually not finding great results.
However, no lightweight has been able to really compete with “The Prodigy” and Florian won’t be the won to stop him. Penn knocks out Florian in the third round.
In my most anticipated match-up of the night, Anderson Silva returns to the light heavyweight class. Silva is 24-4 and one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the game today.
The owner of 14 knockouts in his career has never lost in the UFC and currently is on a ten fight win streak. His latest win was a unanimous decision dismantling of Thales Leites at UFC 97, his first fight to go to a decision since 2004.
“The Spider’s” last loss was a disqualification against Yushin Okami in 2006.
Griffin, the fan favorite and original Ultimate Fighter Champion, brings a 16-5 record into the fight. The former champ has previously beaten Rampage Jackson, Mauricio Rua and Stephan Bonnar (twice) but lost his most recent fight (and championship belt) to Rashad Evans at UFC 92. Evans TKO’d Griffin in the third round in December of 2008.
However, Griffin always shows up to fight and usually impresses, even in his losses.
The Prediction: Forrest is just coming off of losing his title but don’t expect him to be the one to finally stop “The Spider.” Silva is too dangerous and won’t give up that much reach to Griffin.
I also feel he didn’t see Silva at 100% against Leites, as he didn’t take his opponent seriously. Griffin could overpower Silva and will never give in but Silva will find a way to get it done. Don’t expect this one to be a snoozer like Silva’s last win and there is no way this goes to the judges. Griffin will challenge Silva but it’s not going the distance.
I’m calling a third-round knockout by Silva as he makes a push for a lightweight title shot in the near future. I want to say I'm giving Griffin too much credit but it's hard not to like the guy, he's a gamer.
No photos available of Sadollah or Hendricks but that will change after this fight.
Hendricks is a fan favorite in the making. If you haven't heard of him yet, you will walk away from this fight knowing the charismatic andlikeable two-time NCAA wrestling champion.
There are not many UFC debuts that I have been looking forward to as much as Johnny Hendricks’ debut. The former NCAA wrestling champion is a powerful athlete that brings a 5-0 record into the fight. The former Oklahoma State Cowboy has won by knockout three times and has two WEC fights under his belt.
Meanwhile, the Ultimate Underdog Amir Sadollah brings his intimidating 1-0 professional record into the bout. Another TUF Champion on the card, Sadollah came out of nowhere to top CB Dollaway in his impressive season seven finale.
The submission win happened on June, 2008 and Sadollah hasn’t fought in the octagon since due to various injuries. (Or maybe that Spike gig between shows takes up more time than you would think.)
The Prediction: Sure, Sadollah taught us not to bet against him during season seven but I think Hendricks is too much. Sadollah showed that he is a submission specialist but even with his impressive season seven preformance, I feel he is too one-dimensional. Hendricks is going to impress in the debut and, although young, is experienced compared to the submission expert.
This fight is going to end early, a second round knockout as Hendricks grounds and pounds Sadollah before the referee calls the fight.
Joanna Krupa, even with her TO feud, is just plain hot. At the very least, she beats having to see Dana White's bald head.
Both fighters are fairly experienced. The 10-5 Grove has six submission victories to his credit and stands 6’6. He is on a two fight win streak, including a split decision win over Evan Tanner at the season seven Ultimate Finale.
Grove is 5-2 in the UFC and has experience against Jorge Rivera, Patrick Cote and Hector Ramirez (all losses). In addition to Tanner, he has a unanimous decision win over Ed Herman at the Ultimate Finale 3.
Almeida last fought at Ultimate Fight Night 18 in 2009 when he beat Matt Horwich. The Gracie Jiu-Jitsu expert also has a loss to Cote, by split decision, on his resume but took a seven fight win streak into that bout. He submitted Nate Marquardt in 2003 and lost by DQ to Matt Lindland in 2001 but had a layoff in his record from 2004-2008.
The Prediction: Grove has a seven inch height advantage on Almeida but Almeida has impressed me more the UFC fights that I have seen. I’m calling Almeida in a close split decision. I'd expect a lot of submission attempts.
Finally! Another relevant pic. I kind of miss the babes now, though.
The fight of the best nicknames on the card. “The Dentist” Neer vs. “Batman” Pellegrino. The 26-year-old Neer has an impressive 25-7-1 record with ten knockouts and 11 submission.
He is 8-2 in his last ten fights and has wins over Melvin Guillard, Joe Stevenson, Din Thomas and Mac Danzig on his record. The Danzig victory, at Ultimate Fight Night 17, was his most recent fight.
Both fighters not only share awesome nicknames, but both have lost to Nate Diaz, in addition to both holding victories over Danzig.
The-30 year-old Pellegrino is 13-4 with nine submissions to his credit. He is currently on an 11-3 run, has beaten Rob Emerson by submission at Ultimate Fight Night 17 and is an exciting fighters. He does however, have a loss to Joe Stevenson by unanimous decision on his record.
Both are riding relatively hot streaks into the fight and it should be a barn burner but this is another fight that has little chance of going to the judges.
The Prediction: It’s a toss-up as both have similar results against common opponents. Neer’s win over Stevenson gives him the edge in my mind and he rarely lets a fight go to the judges.
Pellegrino looked impressive in his victory over Emerson but I’m sticking with my gut feelings for “The Dentist,” in a second round submission.
Elizabeth Banks and Natsia Liukin...why not? I'm sure they are huge UFC fans. These fights are in order of which I'm looking forward to most.
Middleweight: Thales Leites (14-2, 9 sub) vs. Alessio Sakara (13-7, 8 (T)KOs)
Leites has beaten Nate Marquardt by split decision at UFC 85 in 2008 and most recently lost to Anderson Silva by unanimous decision in an unimpressive performance but who was the last middle weight to look good against Silva? I'm not holding that against Leites, who is an injury replacement.
He is 5-1 in his last six fights and his only other loss was a unanimous decision to Martin Kampmann at TUF Finale 4 in 2006.
Sakara last fought against Joe Vedepo, who he knocked out with a head kick in an impressive performance at Ultimate Figh tNight 15. The fight was in 2008 and only lasted 1:27.
Sakara's last fight to get out of the first round was in 2006 at UFC 57 but since then he has been beaten by Dean Lister, Houston Alexander, Chris Leben and Drew McFedries.
The Predicition: Leites will allow Sakara's streak of fights ending in the first round to continue, but it will be in Leites' favor. Leites is probably training the hardest he ever has after losing to Silva and he is a dangerous fighter.
It's ending in the first round, in favor of Leites but I'm not sure to call it by TKO or submission. Ms. Banks tells me to go with a first-round TKO but don't be surprised by the submission.
Lightweight: George Sotiropoulos (9-2, 5 sub.) vs. George Roop (9-4, 4 sub.)
This was supposed to be Sotiropoulos and Rob Emerson squaring off, which would've been a great fight. Fortunately for Sotiropoulos, Emerson was injured and Roop is in.
Soti is 2-0 in the UFC and 6-1 in his last seven fights, currently riding a three fight win streak. I think he has looked like an up and coming star in his first two fights and beating Roop would probabl guarantee him a UFC career for the next few years.
Roop did not really impress me on TUF. His last fight was a split decision victory over David Kaplan at UFC 98, which even I'll admit was impressive. He is 4-1 in his last five bouts and also lost by split decision to Shane Nelson (who is also on the card) in 2008.
The Predicition: I want to say Sotiropoulos will end the fight early but Roop is a tough SOB and changed my perception a little bit by beating Kaplan at UFC 98. I'll still giving the edge to Sotiropoulos but it's going to the judges...unanimously, though.
Welterweight: Jesse Lennox (10-1, 5 (T)KO, 5 sub) vs. Danillo Villefort (9-2, 5 sub.)
Lennox has never let a fight go to decision. This is his UFC debut but he rides a three-fight win streak and has experience competing with the IFL and WEC. His last fight was a KO of Blas Avena at WEC 38 in Jan. 2009. The stoppage occured only 41 seconds into round 2. His only loss was in the IFL.
Villefort also makes his UFC debut, riding his own winning streak of five into the fight. His last fight was also at WEC 38, where he TKO's Mike Campbell in round 1. He also has a knack for ending fights early, touting only one decision on his resume.
The Predicition: This should be an exciting fight but I don't expect it to last long. I'm taking Lennox by KO in round 2.
Lightweight: Shane Nelson (12-3) vs. Aaron Riley (27-11-1)
Nelson, a BJ Penn MMA product, is on an eight fight win streak, an impressive run that has been going since the middle of 2006. At UFC 96, he knocked out Riley in just 0:44 of round one.
Riley is a 28 year old with one UFC victory. He has had a tough group of competitors, though. Doctors stopped his 2006 bout with Spencer Fisher after round one and he fought Robbie Lawler in 2002 at UFC 37, losing by unanimous decision.
I don't see this playing out much different than the UFC 96 contest. Riley will hold on longer than 44 seconds, no doubt, but I still don't see him making it out of the first round. A first round KO for Nelson will move him up the lightweight ladder.
Welterweight: Matt Riddle (2-0) vs. Dan Cramer (1-0)
These two welterweights are young in age, both are 23, and UFC experience. I won't pretend like I know much about them. Cramer has a split decision win over Mat Arroyo at UFC 94 and Riddle won in his TUF 7 Finale bout by submission. I'm still giving this one to Cramer, bya split decision.
Welterweight: Tamdan McCrory (11-2, 9 sub) vs. 13-7 (8 (T)KOs)
"The Barn Cat" McCrory began his pro career with a nine fight win streak but is 2-2 since. He is 3-2 in the UFC and last beat Ryan Madigan at UFC 96 in the first round.
Meanwhile, Howard rides a four fight win streak in to the cage. His last fight was his UFC debut, in which he recorded a split decision over Chris Nelson at UFC 94.
The Predicition: McCrory has the edge in UFC expereince and has been up against tougher competition. The Barn Cat submits Howard in the second.
Thanks for reading, let's hear your predicitions. And don't forget WEC tomorrow night!!!!! (And the Bills' Hall of Fame game, let's go Buffalo!)