Join us tonight at 7pm ET for our live coverage of UFC 101! Our very own Shawn M. Smith will be cageside in the media section, and he’ll be providing running commentary and giving you real-time results as they happen. We’ll also have exclusive photos from cageside and much, much more!
We are live at the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia, PA, “the city of Brotherly Love”. Beyond cliches and silly entendres, this should be a big card not only for the promotion, but for the four fighters in tonight’s headlining matches. Check here to see my previous thoughts on this card.
Danillo Villefort (9-2) vs. Jesse Lennox (14-1)
Referee: Keith Peterson
Each fighter takes the first 15 seconds to feel one another out before the Philly fans begin to boo. Strong takedown by Villefort leads to several leg kicks on the prone Lennox. Lennox returns to his feet and ducks a looping right hook, countering with a knee that barely misses. Villefort is a clear crowd favorite and gets a huge pop for a spinning back kick that just barely misses. A good effort a a right left combo misses for Lennox at the minute mark and the two seem content to lunge and stalk their way to big shots. Lennox catches a kick attempt and grounds Villefort with a scooping single leg.
Several strong striking exchanges and Villefort gets rocked. Referee Keith Peterson stands Danillo back up and the two go toe-to-toe again with Lennox in pursuit. Lennox fakes a takedown that Villefort buys and Lennox gets him with a big right. Villefort is stood back up by the referee and and attempts a double flying knee when Lennox steps in to box. One miinute to go in the 2nd and the two see continue to press for openings, exchanging and working the body and uppercuts. Villefort with an inside legkick. Right hand Superman by Lennox who follows with a right headkick that misses.
The fans show their appreciation for the fighters to start the final round. Both men come out strong, Lennox hits a big leg kick that knocks Villefort down. Lennox waves off a show of appreciation/glove tap and Danillo smiles. A Superman/left hook combo stagger Danillo and the crowd boos as he steps away to compose himself. Jesse gets Villefort to the mat and begins to work the body with hooks. Villefort catches Lennox’ arm when he leaves it out there. The building goes nuts as he gets his hands apart and Lennox gets away. There’s a quick referee stoppage to look over a cut on Danillo Villefort’s face caused by an accidental headbutt in the guard. The referee calls a stop to the action and gives Lennox the TKO win.
Winner: Jesse Lennox by TKO (R3)
George Roop (9-5) vs. George Sotiropoulos (9-2)
Referee: Mark Goddard
Sotiropoulos and Ropp engage in a boxing match to start. Roop is taken down and Sotiropoulos ends up mounting Roop. Roop switches out and gets back to his feet. Spinning back kick misses from Sotiropoulos, but a left right combo staggers Roop. Sotiropoulos takes Roop’s back and drags him to the mat, getting one hook in durin the process. North-South position switched to side control and Sotiropoulos gets Roop’s back again. Roops defends the rear naked choke, rolling into Sotiropoulos’ rubber guard, who works some left elbows to the shoulder to end round 1.
Big right missed by both men, swinging combinations that don’t connect. Roop goes for a flying knee, but Sotiropoulos catches the leg. Roop is free, but is mounted for his trouble. Roop gets his legto the cage and spins away from, forcing Sotiropoulos up and out of closed guard. Sotiropoulos hooks a kimura and George Roop promptly taps out.
Winner: George Sotiropoulos by Submission (Kimura) (R2)
Dan Cramer (1-0) vs. Matthew Riddle (2-0)
Referee: Keith Peterson
Matt Riddle comes out to “Beat It” to a mixture of boos and cheers. A right hook from each fighter leads to Cramer grabbing Riddle in a Muay Thai clinch. Riddle ends up kneeling, but escapes back to his feet. Riddle attempts a judo toss, but Cramer takes his back for his trouble. Riddle secures the wrist to prevent the takedown, rolls through a double leg attempt and gets back to his feet. Deep guillotine by Cramer and Riddle puts Dan flat on the mat, popping his head out after 20 precarious seconds. Cramer immediately pulls Riddle into his closed guard. Cramer and Riddle back on their feet, and Riddle is pressing Cramer into the cage. In the clinch, Riddle scores a right elbow and Cramer avoids the takedown to end the first round.
They touch gloves to start the second and Riddle Comes back with a left kick to the midsection and a takedown. Riddle in half guard, Cramer tries to wiggle free, ends up in the red corner on her knees. Riddle gets his hooks in and Cramer fights off being laid out flat on his stomach. Cramer gets to his back and takes some short left hands from Matt for his trouble. Riddle in half guard, Cramer is expending a lot of energy keeping Matt in tight. Riddle postures up to land some offense, but is drawn back in by Dan. Cramer tries to get to the cage to walk up; Riddle is having none of that, dropping a big elbow and taking his back. Cramer is on his knees, Riddle is working for both hooks and Cramer fights off a Severn rear naked. Big right elbow to the side of the head of Dan Cramer, who is kneeling again against the cage. The round ends.
Big right head kick is partially blocked, taking Riddle off his feet. Cramer pounces and drops some long shots in from the standing position. Riddle tries for an armbar which Cramer escapes, but Matt reverses into side control. Back against the cage, Riddle hammers with short left hooks. It looks like two cuts have opened over Dan Cramer’s eyes. Riddle hammers with shots and elbows to the body. Riddle gets the mount, Cramer rolls clear giving Riddle his back. Cramer rolls again to his back, giving Matt Riddle half guard. Riddle with short lefts to the head, rights to the body to loosen Cramer up – with 16 seconds left, Matt wants to finish. Riddle lets Cramer up, the exchange blows to end the fight, Riddle with a smile on his face.
Winner: Matthew Riddle by Unanimous Decision (29-27, 30-26, 30-27)
Thales Leites (14-2) vs. Alessio Sakara (17-7 1 NC)
Referee: Marc Goddard
Sakara and Leites feel each other out for a minute before Leites shoots for a takedown which is blocked by Sakara. Right high kick by Sakara is blocked. Sakara blocks a big punch by Leites. Big sweeping right hook by Leites misses. Leites gets a scooping single leg that Alessio rolls through, stuffs a second attempt and regains his footing. Both men looking for that big opportunity, Leites misses a punch, backing Sakara into the cage. Boos from the Philly crowd and Sakara jabs Leites which stifles their bloodlust. Leites blocks a combo by Sakara and dives in for a takedown, which Sakara avoids. Good one-two combo by Alessio and the boos resume. Philly wants a finish. Sakara dances away from Leites to end the first round.
Outside leg kick by Leites sets up a one-two hook/cross combo that has Sakara staggering. Takedown by Leites and Sakara is on his backside with one of Leites’ hooks in. Alessio reverses. Both men back on their feet. Sakara with a punch combo that lands. Leites switches levels and takes Alessio to his back. Leites in side control, Sakara tries to roll away and is almost mounted before reversing and getting back to his feet. Sakara hits a big right hand and Leites drops to take Sakara to the mat. Alessio ends up in closed guard and both men scramble back to their feet. Looping right hook grazes Sakara. Sakara counters with one of his own, hits a put kick and as he moves backward, is taken to the mount. Leites peppers shots into the arms of Sakara before moving to side control where he drops elbows. Leites moves back to mount and starts to cinch a triangle from the mount (albeit slowly) as the round ends.
Round 3 starts with jabs and soft hooks. Sakara has rolled his front shoulder forward and looks ready to box again. The Philly crowd boos and Leites fakes a takedown. Sakara moves horizontally to get away from Leites, taking the center of the ring again. A takedown attempt by Leites is stuffed and the two fighters return to the center of the ring. Not sure who Philly thinks is to blame, but after a minute of no action, someone needs to press. High kick by Leites misses, the ref pulls the two in and either warns them both or gives them a pep talk. It must work as Leites shoots and takes Sakara down. Sakara gets up and won’t engage Leites drawing huge boos. The round ends to big, big boos from those within the arena.
Winner: Alessio Sakara by Split Decision (29-28, 27-30, 29-28)
John Howard (11-4) vs. Tamden McCrory (12-2)
Referee: Mario Yamasaki
High kick and a slip by McCrory. He’s back up quick and Howard (with his amazing hair) is working leg kicks. McCrory pounces and works for a submission, but Howard rolls through and back to his feet. Howard takes closed guard and McCrory has a strong underhook on Howard’s right arm, keeping him from passing guard. Howard spins out and the two are back on their feet. McCrory with a trip takedown, dragging Howard into half guard. Both men are very active on the mat, working to gain advantage they can. Back on their feet, Tamden jumps for a flying triangle choke and Howard drops him to the mat, pausing before diving back into his guard. Howard gets off two right hooks in guard and Mario Yamasaki stands the fighters up. Inside leg kick by Howard and McCrory goes after the flying sub again.
Good exchange of kickboxing to start round two, Howard takes McCrory to the mat. Howard tries to posture up for a strike, but moves back to his feet. McCrory back on his feet as well and a right mid kick by Tamden is caught by Howard, who misses a big right. McCrory on his back, and Howard takes half guard. Short knees to the body of McCrory, who rolls to his side, and posts up, ending up in a guillotine that McCrory escapes. McCrory in open guard, he backs away and drops a big shot that misses. Closed guard from Howard and McCrory postures up and drops two quick shots. McCrory grabs the neck of Howard in a guillotine, landing a big knee that Howard partially catches/deflects, taking both men to the mat. Howard explodes out the back and maintains position. The round ends with Howard rolling for a knee bar, Tamden jumping through and over the top to land a Superman punch that he holds back as the ref steps in.
The first real strike that connects is a push kick by McCrory shortly before Howard takes him to the mat. Tamden works rubber guard. Howard picks him up and commits a diving slam while in closed guard. Show of respect as the two fighters touch gloves. Sloppy takedown attempt ends with Tamden trying to roll through. Howard stand over Tamden drops a big bomb on his downed opponent. The referee stands them both up and after another flying submission, Howard ends up on top of McCrory with side control. McCrory switches positions and works in Howard’s guard for part of the final 45 seconds dropping two shots before letting Howard up to shoot punches. Howard does his back handspring across the cage after the round ends.
Winner: John Howard by Split Decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Joe Rogan gets into the ring with our winner, so hopefully we’ll hear his speech later in the night. Twenty minutes to PPV time – SMS needs to stretch a bit.
Lights are down, the PPV is about to start. Really incredible video package to hype the crowd. Big mixed reaction for Anderson Silva, huge pop for Forrest. Kenny gets a mixed reaction. BJ gets a BIGGER mixed reaction. I have very high hopes for this second half of the show, which has been good so far.
Kurt Pellegrino (13-4) vs. Josh Neer (25-7-1)
Referee: Dan Mirgliotta
Both men come out swinging which is no surprise as Neer didn’t touch gloves until the very last minute. Big slam from Pellegrino who works to half guard and postures up for the big shot that doesn’t come. The crowd starts into a “Let’s Go Kurt” chant and Neer has the wrist of Pellegrino. Tight grip forces a slam from Kurt who moves into half guard once Neer lets go. Wrist control by Neer from the bottom, Pellegrino slips free and is back into open guard. Neer tries to push the upper body of Kurt over to his right to halt his momentum, but Kurt takes half guard for his efforts. One leg caught in a tight half guard and Pellegrino gets two elbows into the face of Josh Neer before the round ends.
Strong exchange from Kurt Pellegrino and Neer is down on the mat. Josh manages to get a hold of the wrist and Kurt is working to get out of the half guard and into mount, if possible. Neer works two strong submission attempts from the down position, first an armbar and then a triangle that Kurt avoids. Pellegrino gets the mount and the crowd shows their appreciation. Neer rolls to his right, giving up his back to Kurt who tries to sink the rear naked choke. Neer ends up on top of Pellegrino with his back down as the round comes to an end.
Neer presses in for a shot. Pellegrino drops his hands to tempt Neer in and gets a left mid kick for his efforts. Kurt with a double leg takedown and he’s into the guard of Josh Neer. Neer works from his back for a sub and/or wrist control, but Kurt is able to squirm free and strike the downed opponent with a swift backfist. Neer on his left side and Pellegrino works him back to his back. Josh hits two left elbows to the side of Kurt’s head. Kurt leaning in from a standing position and trying to open a striking situation, but one doesn’t present itself. Crowd boos as Kurt is drawn back into Josh’s closed guard. Josh tries for a triangle that Kurt slips out of. Kurt takes half guard on Josh’s right, and can’t quite get the other leg down to grab the mount. Still in half guard, Pellegrino pushes through for a mount, taking a risk for an armbar that doesn’t work. Neer gives him two rights to the fface for his efforts. Pellegrino is rocked with short back elbows against the cage and is down to his knees as the round comes to a close.
Winner: Kurt Pellegrino by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Ricardo Almeida (10-3) vs. Kendall Grove (12-5)
Referee: Mario Yamasaki
Almeida presses early and after and missed exchange, Kendall is backed against the cage. Almeida working for the takedown, Kendall offers up a fist to the far ear. Dirty boxing by both fighters before Kendall reverses posture. Back into the center of the octagon, Almeida pursues with a right hook. Knee/kick is half caught by Ricardo and he walks Kendall to the cage. Almeida has the leg for a moment before Kendall slips away. Trip takedown by Ricardo is applauded by the crowd and Ricardo stand high in Kendall’s guard. Almeida offers a leg kick on his opponent before diving through and missing with a big punch. Kendall out the back door as Almeida hits him with big punches. Almeida scoops Kendall up and walks him across the Octagon, taking half guard to end round one.
Big cheers for Georges St. Pierre between rounds.
Another takedown by Almeida. Kendall in a half butterfly guard as Ricardo pushes him toward the cage. Kendall gets a tight armbar that Ricardo Almeida spins out. Kendall working hard from the bottom with long elbows while posturing up for a submission. Kendall moves into the same position in hopes of getting something here in the middle of the round. Body triangle and elbows from Kendall force Ricardo in tighter. Ricardo moves as if he is going to slam Kendall again and he gets him to open his guard. Ricardo pops back to his feet momentarily before he aims a straight left that glances Grove and impacts on the mat. Kendall begins to roll for an leglock, but Almeida stops him and takes half guard. Ricardo takes side control and hits Kendall with several big shots forcing Grove back to his feet. Both fighters are standing, with Almeida backing Kendall against the cage. Kendall with a short uppercut that staggers Ricarda bit, but he continues to drive through for a double leg takedown. Ricardo drags Kendall to his back to end the round.
Kendall misses with a right cross. Inside leg kick from Almeida, followed by an outside leg kick. Kendall coutners with a mid kick that is caught and he is driven across the ring for the takedown. Grove and Almeida are back on their feet with Ricardo pressing against the cage. Kendall gets separation and misses with a big cross, Almeida goes for the flying sub, Grove drops the fist and elbow instead before standing up. Both fighters in the center of the cage, Ricardo with underhooks and Kendall foot stomps against the cage to make him release. With half the round to go, Almeida shoots in and lifts Kendall up and across the ring. Closed guard from Grove and he eats short body shots as a result. Almeida postures up and Kendall teases an omaplata. Short elbow from Grove and closed guard. Kendall appeared to be taking the right wrist before a quick butterfly that gets him back to his feet. Almeida shoots for a final takedown and Grove hammers at him with back fists as the fights closes.
Winner: Ricardo Almeida by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Johnny Hendricks (5-0) vs. Amir Sadollah (2-0)
Referee: Dan Mirgliotta
Hendricks is the spitting image of Andrei Arlovski with that beard. Two young, undefeated fighters with much to prove and we get a stoppage by referee Mirgliotta after 10-11 unprotected shots to a stunned Amir. Sadollah is caught with a big left uppercut as he presses the action. Hendricks pounces in the corner and the crowd is still booing after seeing all the replays.
Winner: Johnny Hendricks by TKO
Joe Rogan hops into the octagon and defends what might be seen as a questionable stoppage. Hendricks stood his ground and landed the three lefts that grounded Amir, credit to the kid for being so accurate under pressure.
As the next bout begins, I would like to give a shout-out to my lovely wife, Tracy, who was standing right there when Amir got knocked down and (maybe or maybe not) out. I say “maybe” because as he was leaving the cageside area, he walked toward the press, not the back, and looked visibily staggered. That’s just my opinion, though.
Aaron Riley (27-11-1) vs. Shane Nelson (13-3)
Referee: Kevin Mulhall
Shane wants to test Aaron’s iron jaw again? Riley presses the action early and both fighters are locked up on the mat. Good combination by Riley causes a slip in the corner by Shane. Dirty boxing by both fighters. Nelson is pressed against the cage as he attempts a knee to the body. As the fighters release, Riley swings high with a left kick. Back in the center, Nelson lets fly a three punch combo that doesn’t land. Riley’s left kick is caught, but he rolls through before Nelson can take him down. Nelson pursues the determined Riley, pressing much of the early boxing. Riley appears more patient in his approach and is working for a more substantial shot. Pressed against the cage again, Shane squirms free and almost eats a high kick for his effort. A takedown by Nelson is stuffed. Riley grapples with Nelson and presses him into the cage to end round one.
Big ovations for Shane Victorino and his World Series ring and Randy Couture between rounds. The first one stings a bit.
Quick start to the round, two big kicks, one by each fighter, before we see a tie up against the cage. Riley is the aggressor so far and Nelson seems content to pick him off should the big shot present itself. Slip by Nelson who bounces into the cage wall and regains his footing. Third big slip by Nelson, he seems legitimately off balance while evading Riley’s attacks. Two big shots from Riley put Nelson on the defensive and he is quickly taken to the mat. Some ground and pound within the guard and our referee stands both men up. Nelson isn’t showing as much head movement as in the first round and his next shot for a takedown is stuff. Riley and Nelson are tied up for the last moments of the round before Riley dumps Nelson on his back.
Show of respect as the fighters touch gloves. Boxing combinations are followed by high kicks by Riley. Smart use of the space that Nelson is giving him. Good left from Nelson, who drops downstairs and drives for a takedown that doesn’t happen. Riley misses a high kick after a slick combo by Nelson. The crowd immediately begins reacting strongly to a fight in the audience and pays no attention to what is happening in the octagon. Huge, huge cheers. Not sure what happened, but if it wills someone toward a stronger effort in the cage, good. Riley is in the guard of Nelson and starts to posture up to drop strikes. Riley and Nelson are exchanging shots with Riley landing the larger elbows and punches. The fight ends with Nelson on his back, Philly cheering for someone fighting in the crowd (who may or may not be a woman) and many of us pretty confused as to wear Shane’s plan to “duke it out” went.
Winner: Aaron Riley by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Forrest Griffin (16-5) vs. Anderson Silva (24-4)
Referee: Kevin Mulhall
Huge introduction, damn near deafening, for Forrest during the intros. Everyone is on their feet. Split crowd for Anderson – totally deaf now, btw. I couldn’t even hear the ref speak to the fighters. Griffin and Silva circle as both know the power and skill of their respective opponent. I predict leg kicks and jabs for a bit. Forrest appears to be the heavier fighter, but Anderson shows his speed by partially catching a mid-kick that causes a short scramble. Deflected head kick by Silva. Good head movement by Silva, and there’s a big slip by Forrest near the cage. Silva is just toying with the slower Griffin. Silva’s proving too fast early on with tremendous head movement and isn’t even keeping his hands up. The Spider ducks two huge shots from Forrest and takes Forrest down. Griffin hits the mat with his hands extended/raised in a bizarre sort of defense (like he’s waving the match off) and this fight is over.
Winner: Anderson Silva by Knockout
Post-fight, Forrest storms and fights his way out of the cage and into the back before the announcements can even be made. Not sure what happened there, but he was obviously very upset about the loss.
We’re getting ready for the Main Event of the evening.
Lightweight Title Bout 5 Rounds
BJ Penn (13-5-1) (Champion) vs. Kenny Florian (12-3)
Referee: Dan Mirgliotta
Huge ovation for BJ while Bruce Buffer goes through the intros. After the lukewarm reception for Penn at the weigh-in, one doesn’t know what to expect, however, this should be a phenomenal treat. First strike to Florian who gets the push kick. BJ qith a short right hook to stagger Kenny, but he circles away and the fighters take the center of the cage. The big ovation for Penn begins as Kenny circles and shoots in to grab underhooks. Dirty boxing gets bodyshots for both men. It’s obvious that while Kenny made references to wanting to end this fight early, he wants to press Penn into later rounds and challenge the motor. Right uppercut gets Kenny backing away and we’re tied up in the cage. BJ lets Kenny off the cage after 6-7 knees to the inside of his thigh against the cage. Kenny fights for a takedown that isn’t going to happen and the crowd shows appreciation for a solid four minutes. Florian is the aggressor and shoots for a takedown, getting Penn against the cage door. Kenny misses a huge hook, BJ counters with a flying knee to end the round.
Florian looks confident after a strong opening round. BJ takes a deep inside leg kick and waits for an opening to strike. Florian shoots and drives Penn to the cage wall, leaning his body weight on him. Both fighters circle and look for an opening; Kenny seems content to press for takedowns and get the advantage by working against the cage. Penn is waiting for his opening and, to his credit, seems patient and relaxed. Halfway through the second round, BJ looks up at the clock as Kenny lets himgo. An accidental shot to the back of the head (as Florian turns his body to scramble away) draws admonishment from Kenny, but he resumes his tactic, one that looks partially derived from Georges St. Pierre’s idea in his last fight with BJ: wear him out. A good exchange has BJ working off the cage wall. Both fighters back to the center and Florian misses with three kicks. BJ takes an inside leg kick while looking for the big shot.
Florian starts out pursuing Penn very early in the first. BJ moves well and at his angles to open yp for his big shot. Kenny, instead of taking this fight to the mat, presses the action to the outer walls and looks to sweep. Florian takes a leg and attempts to get BJ off his feet, but he’s eating a lot of face shots in the process. Kenny drives his shoulders into BJ’s mid-section. Big elbow to the face of Penn as Florian lets him out and Penn is pursuing, missing an uppercut before the combatants end back in the center of the cage. Kenny shoots, takes a single leg in the center of the octagon and walks Penn to the cage. BJ has recognized the game plan and is exploding faster into his opportunities to attack. Back into the cage, Kenny eats a back elbow to the side of the head from BJ. BJ sweeps Kenny to his knees and Kenny scrambles to his feet as BJ misses with two big punches. Kenny goes for two Superman punches that barely miss.
Kenny leads with an open hand that BJ finally presses away and hits a punch that shifts him into the cage. After another missed cross, Florian pushes Penn into the cage, releasing him to land an elbow. BJ grabs a double leg and hoists Florian into the air with a big slam and promptly begins to work in the half guard. Short elbows from BJ as Kenny rolls to his right side to prevent the mount that Penn is working for. Good guard defense stops BJ from a full mount and Penn almost secures the position with just over 2 minutes to go in the round. Seconds later, BJ takes the mount, then Kenny’s back and is working for the rear naked. Kenny rolls away to his back again and BJ continues to alternate between rear naked choke and mount attempts. Kenny fights off three attempts to sink the hold before Penn locks it deep for the submission victory.
Winner: BJ Penn by Submission (Rear Naked Choke) R4