UFC 101 Main Card Predictions

UFC 101 “Declaration” is today, and is headlined by two very interesting match-ups: a light-heavyweight tilt between middleweight kingpin Anderson “Spider” Silva and former light-heavyweight champ Forrest Griffin, and a lightweight title bout between titlist “The Prodigy” B.J. Penn and #1 contender Kenny “Ken-Flo” Florian. While UFC 100 is going to be tough to follow, 101 provides the opportunity for a couple fighters in particular to declare their supremacy. Every fighter made weight, so without further ado, here are my main card picks:

Josh Neer (25-7-1) vs. Kurt Pellegrino (13-4): This is definitely the sleeper fight on this card, as “The Dentist” and “Batman” doing battle is sure to entertain the crowd immensely. It’s also a very difficult fight to choose a winner for. Neer is known as the more complete fighter, while Pellegrino may have the advantage on the ground. Will Neer’s stand-up be enough to neutralize his alleged shortcomings (at least in comparison to his opponent) when the fight leaves the feet? Either way, it will be an extremely exciting fight, with Fight of the Night honors very much within grasp of these two lightweights – Pellegrino by decision

Ricardo Almeida (10-3) vs. Kendall Grove (10-5, 1 NC): In a fight that may see the loser cut from the ranks of the UFC, there is a lot on the line in this middleweight match-up. Almeida was once one of the top middleweights in the game before taking an extended hiatus. Against the more competitive athletes he’s faced in the UFC since his comeback, he’s looked less than his former stellar self. Facing the glass-chinned Grove, who has had difficulty defending the takedown, may be just what the doctor ordered. Though he possesses considerable fighting talents, Grove has yet to locate the oh-so-hard-to-find consistency that he needs to make a run at the top. Will his fortunes change against the submission wizard that is Almeida? I don’t think so – Almeida by submission

Amir Sadollah (1-0) vs. Johny Hendricks (5-0): I may be a little biased in this one, as I’ve worked with Amir a little before, and I certainly am a big fan of his Forrest Griffin-like self deprecation and humor. But I’ll try not to let that influence my pick in this welterweight face-off. But The Ultimate Fighter season 7 winner Amir is going to win. Hendricks is simply too similar to Sadollah victim C.B. Dolloway, and his overzealous wrestling will be downfall, just as it was with “The Doberman.” The ironic thing is that the ground game of Sadollah has been the part of his skill set that has been showcased, but he is really a stand-up Muay Thai fighter at heart. It will be interesting to see if his drop to welterweight affects him at all, but with the trainers at Xtreme Couture readying him for battle, that’s pretty unlikely – Sadollah by submission

Anderson Silva (24-4) vs. Forrest Griffin (16-5): The King of Quips versus the King of Kicks…a very interesting dichotomy, to say the least. Silva has seen his reputation take a hit in his recent fights, as he’s seemed bored and listless due to the lack of a quality challenges in the middleweight division. Enter a former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion in Forrest Griffin. Through his alliance with Xtreme Couture, Griffin’s approach to fighting has evolved from employing the game plan of a wild dingo to being able to pick apart his opponents in the various aspects of MMA. Will his superior cardio, improving stand-up game, and weight advantage be enough to overcome the devastating Muay Thai plum and creative offensive specialties of the middleweight champ? I don’t think so. Silva, when challenged, is just about unbeatable at this point in his career, and he will re-cement his status as the most dominating finisher in the sport – Silva by KO

B.J. Penn (13-5-1) vs. Kenny Florian (11-3): Dominating…cranky…fun-loving…head-case…revelation…Penn’s career (and personality) have spanned the full spectrum of description. At lightweight, he has been unstoppable since dropping back down to that weight class. Florian, too, has shown marked improvement over the last few years, to the point where he is simply no longer the fighter that challenged former champion Sean Sherk for the belt at UFC 64 and got shellacked. One of the most well-rounded combatants in MMA today, Ken-Flo is surely to provide a challenge to the equally complete Penn. But how much of a challenge will he provide? Not enough. Penn is simply a man among boys in the lightweight division, with a Silva-esque weight class reign at the top in the making. Sure, he lost to the much-heavier and arguably more talented welterweight wonder Georges St-Pierre, but Penn will right the ship and take Florian out – Penn by submission

UFC 101 will be another exciting event for both the sport and the promotion itself. I fully expect barn-burners and slobberknockers to electrify the crowd and Pay-Per-View viewing audiences alike.

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