The event is set to take place on Saturday night, August 8, 2009 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania from the Wachovia Center.
UFC 101 will feature a lightweight championship between B.J. Penn and Kenny Florian, and a 205 pound match-up pitting Forrest Griffin up against Anderson Silva as headliners, but I’m here to break down the preliminary portion of the card. If you want to read and chat about the main card, no worries, we’ve got you covered. Just click here.
And don’t forget to come right back to 5 Oz’s on fight night as we will keep you up to date on all of the action through our usual extensive play-by-play updates and breaking news on the event.
Alright, let’s jump right into this….
Shane Nelson vs. Aaron Riley
The fight that had to happen. A rematch of what has been considered to be one of the worst stoppages in the history of the Octagon, both of these men will have a chance to set the record straight on Saturday night, and further establish that they belong in the ocean with all of the sharks of the UFC’s lightweight division.
While Nelson is coming off of two wins with the UFC following his stint on the eighth season of The Ultimate Fighter, Riley desperately needs a victory to stay afloat in the most stacked fighting promotion on the planet.
I expect nothing short of fireworks in this one. Two extremely tough guys with something to prove, fighting for survival, pride and bragging rights. I don’t expect a quick stoppage n this one, but what I do expect is for these guys to surprise the audience and fans at home by going to war over three rounds in what promises to be one of the more entertaining and overlooked fights on the card.
Winner: Riley via Unanimous Decision
Tamdan McCrory vs. John Howard
Great match-up right here. Both men seem to be the goods. Solid welterweights in the UFC, no question about it. The thing that makes this match-up so compelling is the fact that we will be left with one man that belongs in the UFC, and another that perhaps doesn’t.
McCrory has a world of talent. A rangy welterweight with punishing strikes and a solid ground game. He has the tools to give a lot of guys fits at welterweight just based on his freakishly strong 6’4″, 170 pound frame. The only knock on Tamdan at this point is has yet to beat a marquee opponent. During his time with the UFC he has compiled wins over the likes of Pete Spratt, Luke Cummo and most recently, Ryan Madigan. On the other side of that coin “The Barn Cat” has come up short in the Octagon when he has stepped up against the likes of Akihiro Gono and Dustin Hazelett.
Howard’s 11-4 record may not be the most impressive on the outset, but a closer look at his most recent wins lead me to believe he has taken a turn in his career for the better as of late. Winning his last four straight, Howard has picked up victories over a previously undefeated and extremely talented up-and-comer by the name of Charlie Brenneman and a more than capable Chris Wilson along the way.
Another fight featuring two men with something to prove. This one will not disappoint. Expect fireworks.
Winner: McCrory via Split Decision
Thales Leites vs. Alessio Sakara
Thankfully I don’t anticipate any butt-scooting in this match-up between the master of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and the Italian born knockout artist.
While Sakara is known for his heavy hands and finishing ability on the feet, it shouldn’t matter. As crazy as it may sound, I feel as if Leites is competent enough on the feet to exchange with Sakara long enough to surprise him with the takedown. From there it should be easy pickings for the decorated submission specialist from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Sakara trains with a great camp in American Top Team, one of the best on this earth, but all of the rolling around with BJJ black belts in the world won’t save you when you have a tapout artist like Leites on top of you. Can you say ‘Submission of the Night’ bonus?
Winner: Leites via Submission (early)
Matt Riddle vs. Dan Cramer
A couple of TUF vets with a world of potential and microscopic records. On the positive side of things both men are undefeated. However the pair bring a combined total of 3 prior professional bout between them, with Riddle fighting twice and Cramer being fresh off his MMA debut.
At first glance I’m sure you’re asking yourself why. Why is this fight on a legit UFC card and not a “Fight Night” event? I’m right there with you guys, but I do feel this fight will fail to disappoint. Both guys should be fully aware that they need to make a name for themselves, and I fully expect for both to try t use the other as a skyrocket to recognition in the UFC.
These guys match up well so I feel we will end up going to the judges, but don’t think these two aren’t going to put it on the line. Another bout with a ton of potential between to blue-chip prospects.
Winner: Riddle via Unanimous Decision
George Sotiropoulos vs. George Roop
This fight between two submission artists promises to be one of the most electrifying ground battles on the card. Both guys have earned the bulk of their victories by submission, and I don’t anticipate either surprising the other with any unfamiliar submissions.
What I do anticipate is a whole lot of transitioning, guard passing and submission attempts in a very fast paced fight.
Who knows though. How many times have we seen two ground fighters stand-up and bang it out on the feet in the past? I can’t count how many times it’s happened. If neither fighter feels they would be best served taking the action to the canvas we could easily have a kickboxing match with 5 Oz. gloves on our hands. Either way I expect for this fight to be action-packed fun.
Winner: Roop via Split Decision
Jesse Lennox vs. Danillo Villefort
This is basically a WEC fight that has been promoted to the Ultimate Fighting Championship because of the folding of the WEC’s folding of it’s higher weight classes, but don’t think that means that it’s not worthy of the UFC by any stretch of the imagination. Both guys are considered to be among the top prospects currently competing in MMA’s 170 pound division.
Villefort grew up in Brazil where training in Jiu-Jitsu was a part of life. He is the god-son to former UFC heavyweight champion Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
Lennox is a well versed fighter that has split his victories evenly between submissions ans knockouts. Established as a finisher with a penchant for bringing the pain to his opponents, Lennox has yet to see the scorecards in any of his 11 professional bouts.
Anytime you make your debut in the UFC you have to know you’re in a must-win situation. These two would be foolish to think anything otherwise and I expect them to fight accordingly in yet another prelim bout with the potential to bring the still trickling in crowd to their feet in approval.
Winner: Lennox via TKO