UFC 101: Fighter Stock


The UFC gave Philadelphia, Pennsylvania a great event Saturday night, featuring a card filled with potentially great fights. However, after several boring bouts, the co-main events delivered, as “The City of Brotherly Love” witnessed two of the world’s best fighters in B.J. Penn and Anderson Silva do exactly what they claimed they’d do: beat their opponents with ease.

Silva and Penn headlined the section of winners from UFC 101, as their fighter stock shot through the roof, along with their pound for pound standings. However, with rising stock, comes falling stock, and none fell harder than Forrest Griffin and Kenny Florian.

The first event in Pennsylvania gave rise to big winners and enormous losers. Divisional ranks were altered, fan favorites were tested, and two of the elite reigned victorious. Now the winners and losers may see where they stand as the fighters’ stocks have soared or sunk per UFC 101.

Rising Stock:

Anderson Silva

Not only did Anderson Silva absolutely demolish Forrest Griffin in the evening’s co-main event, he displayed his devastation in a first round demolition, marking his second first round destruction in the UFC’s 205 pound division.

After two lackluster performances in defense of his UFC middleweight belt, Silva has done everything to silence the critics for now, along with rising in status among the world’s elite. Doubts of Silva taking the number one spot on the pound for pound rankings have to be erased after a performance of such magnitude, where the former UFC light heavyweight champion Forrest Griffin simply could do nothing.

Now, the UFC is in yet another bind with the man who has to be considered the world’s best, as Anderson Silva took down what was considered his toughest opponent to date.

Silva’s next move will most likely be a title defense of his 185 pound belt, unless the UFC keeps him at the explosive 205 pound division. However, the difficult part remains in finding a competitor who has even the most remote chance of ending Silva’s middleweight reign.

Dan Henderson seems to be Silva’s next opponent at middleweight, in a rematch that, if Silva fights the way he did last night, is more ill-fated for Henderson than their first. However, the Team Quest star may be the best option for matchmaker Joe Silva, and it is naïve to count anybody, especially middleweights top contender, out of a fight. Unfortunately, squashing “The Spider” remains the most unlikely of scenarios, at least at middleweight.

The obvious match up for Anderson Silva is seen by many as a fight with Lyoto Machida. However, the friendship held by these two elite make this fight seem highly unlikely, bridging the gap towards nearly impossible. However, neglecting a fight’s possibility, especially one of this nature, falls under the category of criminal, justifying any speculation surrounding the bout, even with the chances of this fight happening extremely thin.

B.J. Penn

B.J. Penn’s last couple of months following his devastating loss to Georges St. Pierre left the lightweight champion of the UFC in a sticky situation. The greasing scandal from UFC 94, the comments about Georges St. Pierre and steroids, and his long time battle with the media have left Penn with a lot to prove.

And he proved it.

After a four round disection of Kenny Florian, Penn reminded the fans of the sport exactly where he stands as a mixed martial artist, and that is at the top of the 155 pound division, along with a certain spot in the top five pound for pound elite.

Penn’s next opponent will be Diego Sanchez, who is coming off an absolute war with Clay Guida. The Hawaiin will look to further strengthen his grasp on the UFC lightweight belt against “The Nightmare”. While Sanchez will prove a difficult opponent, perhaps Penn’s biggest opponent will remain the media.

Penn’s war with the media just hit a major lull, as last night’s fight showed a disciplined and prepared B.J. Penn. If he can avoid another firestorm of media turmoil, Penn may enter into the favor of the fans.

However, for the moment, B.J. Penn is basking in the wake of a stellar performance back in his 155 pound kingdom, making him one of UFC 101’s biggest winners.

Johnny Hendricks

Amir Sadollah’s path since his victory at “The Ultimate Fighter” has led him through ups and downs, but plenty of the latter. The streak continued as Sadollah ran into a some big upper cuts compliment of UFC newcomer Johnny Hendricks.

Hendricks picked up his sixth win with a quick knockout victory, while keeping his unbeaten record intact. While Hendricks is not even close to a big name from the UFC 101 card, his victory over “The Ultimate Fighter” winner is enormous for his young career.

The UFC stands by their reality series at all times, as they rightfully and unconditionally should. However, that also involves their desire for “The Ultimate Fighter” winners to succeed in their organization. Hendricks realized that and did not let it bother him for a moment.

Hendricks is undoubtedly many fights away from gaining a spot on a UFC welterweight contender list. However, defeating an “Ultimate Fighter” winner is always a giant step for any mixed martial artist in gaining legitimacy in the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

Fans of the Sport

Fans of mixed martial arts worldwide were treated to a stellar performance from the organization’s best Saturday night. With B.J. Penn’s phenomenal performance and Anderson Silva’s continual unstoppable tendencies, the viewers witnessed what the best of the sport can truly do.

B.J. Penn fought a great fight in his return to the 155 pound division, reminding fans exactly what “The Prodigy” can do in his ideal weight division. With the media troubles aside for the last fight of the evening, Penn displayed who he is as a fighter. If Penn can avoid another controversy with the media, perhaps the fans will grow to like him a little more as a person, as well.

However, Anderson Silva’s performance was the largest victory for the fans, as the Brazilian no longer has any excuses for a lackluster fight, such as the two previous bouts he was a part of. Boring and uneventful no longer will be allowed to describe an Anderson Silva fight without “The Spider” gaining scrutiny to the maximum.


Falling Stock:

Forrest Griffin

Griffin’s fight with Anderson Silva was an opportunity for the first “Ultimate Fighter” winner to gain another victory upset for his record. With memories of his fight with Mauricio Rua floating around the minds of mixed martial arts, this fight was thought to have the capability of gaining a “Fight of the Year’ nominee.

However, Mauricio Rua’s debut in the UFC had nothing remotely related to Anderson Silva’s second fight at the UFC light heavyweight division, as Griffin was knocked out in the first round through Silva’s superior striking.

To add to the tragic outcome for the former light heavyweight champion, Griffin exploded out of the octagon and the arena in an emotional withdraw from the outside world, as his whereabouts remained unknown to even Dana White hours after the event had transpired.

The demolition at the hands of Anderson Silva now catapults Griffin further down in the light heavyweight ranks, leaving him several fights out of a title shot that seemed a lot closer before tonight’s beat down.

Griffin’s next fight will undoubtedly be with a fighter in the division’s top ten. The winner of Keith Jardine and Thiago Silva at UFC 102 could prove a solid match for Griffin, while Rich Franklin could be another name tossed into the hat, pending his results at UFC 103. However, it will be interesting to see how anxious Griffin will be to get back into the octagon after that performance. In all likelihood, he will be ready to bounce back as soon as possible.

Kenny Florian

Forrest Griffin’s results at UFC 101 were abysmal. However, after losing his second shot at the UFC lightweight title, Kenny Florian’s results could be described similarly. Florian has now failed to secure UFC lightweight gold for a second time, and, as the UFC veteran grows in age, a third go around seems extremely unlikely.

That being said, Florian still remains one of the greatest lightweights in the division at this time. His path to a third title shot will likely begin with another top 155-pounder.

Clay Guida is coming off a loss to the division’s number one contender, Diego Sanchez, and could be Kenny Florian’s next opponent. A battle between “Kenflo” and “The Carpenter” would certainly aid in sorting out divisional ranks, while a victory for Florian would likely put him two wins away from what may prove to be an evasive third title shot.

Frank Edgar, who is coming off a unanimous decision victory over Sean Sherk, could also be matched up against Florian, while Joe Stevenson remains another likely option.

Amir Sadollah

Sadollah’s career with the UFC can best be described as short and painful. After winning “The Ultimate Fighter 7″, Sadollah battled through a leg infection. Shortly after, a broken clavicle further hindered the young UFC prospect.

At UFC 101, Sadollah fought Johnny Hendricks, and, unfortunately, his streak of ill fortune continued, as Hendricks defeated him with a series of powerful punches.

To add to the loss, the stoppage has been labelled premature, marking what could be yet another unlucky turn in the short career of Sadollah. Now, the welterweight will fight another fighter with a status such as Hendricks’.

With such a streak of luck, things could turn for Sadollah, as his potential far outweighs the minor fall he has taken. Unfortunately, with a  possible premature stoppage, Sadollah is one of the losers at UFC 101, as the “Ultimate Fighter” winner cannot catch a break.

Kendall Grove

Kendall Grove’s unanimous decision defeat to Ricardo Almeida continues “Da Spyda’s” long streak of inconsistency, along with bringing him into the range of “Ultimate Fighter Busts”.

At 5-3 in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, Grove has managed to do absolutely nothing to better his position. While his record may be somewhat respectable, the high hopes garnered by Grove are withering away, as his third loss in the UFC puts him back in familiar territory—miles behind the division’s elite.

Grove will now be matched up with a fighter similar in caliber to Ricardo Almeida. For his sake, a winning streak will need to be on the horizon if Groves plans to ever climb closer to the top of the middleweight division.

Thales Leites

From title shot to a possible release from the UFC, Thales Leites has fallen far from where he was a mere six months ago. A controversial, yet disappointing loss has sent Leites miles back in the 185 pound division, if he still will remain under contract with the UFC.

While the judge’s decision on the fight was not at all what it should have been, Leites entered this fight coming off of a bout with one of the world’s greatest, Anderson Silva. Now, that title shot seems years in the past, as Alessio Sakara runs away with the victory.

Leites’ next move in the middleweight division would likely be against someone such as the aforementioned Kendall Grove. While the fight is a confusing match up, it would allot the fighters an opportunity to compete for higher ground in the division, while one would be sent spiraling towards the bottom of the pile.