Well, I had the beginning of the review all typed out and ready to go yesterday. I would simply sit back and wait for the fight results and then post them on Lunch for discussion. Needless to say that was a horrible fight plan. If you have not heard or seen yet, UFC 101 delivered the goods and then some. The Event was Titled Declaration and rightfully so...that it is for Penn and Silva (honorable mention for under card winner Sotiropoulos). Inevitably, there is disappointment during the top two or three matches of the fight card, but not this time.
By the way I am traditionally a harsh critic of fights and fighters, I will not disrespect the fighters, but if you are touted as a "Stand up Fighter" then you better bring it standing up from the opening bell, if you are a "Ground Fighter" then you better go for your submissions, transitions, submissions...
Anderson "The Spider" Silva (Muay Thai practitioner and BJJ Black Belt under Nogueira Brothers, Currently the UFC Middle Weight Champ) faced a fan favorite Forrest Griffin (former TUF winner and former Light Heavy Weight Champ). Before you say there is a discrepancy in the weight class know that Silva fights at both 185lbs and 205lbs. Silva is a soft spoken Brazilian fighter, who is extremely humble, respectful and freakishly talented. Watching Silva fight reminds me of playing a video game, his strikes and counter strikes seem to hit their target as though someone is controlling him with a gaming paddle. Forrest is a hard charging, hard working all around hard fighter. He is adored by the fans for his simplicity, blue collar demeanor and the fact that he is a product of U.S.A. mixed martial arts.
*****WARNING SPOILER**** This fight was said to be the fight that would push Silva to the limit and force him to showcase his skill due to Griffin's aggressive style. Silva's last two fights were considered boring by some fans and even UFC President Dana White. I have watched the fights, it is hard to fight people who really don't want to fight you. Its a double edged sword, you want to catch them and knock them out but you don't want to chase them and get knocked out yourself willing running after them. I am not going to review punch by punch just a quick snapshot, in case anyone wants to watch the fight on replay. This fight started out with a few minutes of feeling out, both guys fainting with jabs and head movement, a few strikes and a kick here or there. Then Silva starts coming forward a bit more aggressively and begins to land shots that repeatedly wobble Griffin. At one point Silva gestures to Griffin to stay in the pocket and fight and then helps him up off the ground after a knock down, showing he wants to stand up and strike (then touches gloves with Griffin as a sign of respect). Silva then begins to drop his hands and lift up his chin bobbing and weaving basically inviting Griffin to bring what he's got. As Griffin moves in with a jab and straight combination Silva tags him with a quick jab while stepping backwards, that appears to connect with Griffin's cheek bone near his eye and jars his head dropping him to the mat in mid-strike. I read a few reviews from professional analyst and some bloggers stating that Griffin goes down and his arms stiffen a sure sign of the knockout blow. This is usually caused by the head hitting the mat after a knockout type shot and the arms stiffen and spasm. Griffin actually looks like he is knocked out, but his arms come up a fraction of a second later, in a natural defensive position, as Silva steps in to finish the fight. Silva steps away realizing it's over, Griffin puts his arms down. Now don't get me wrong, Griffin is hurt, hurt badly, knocked out but it is really awkward. Griffin goes down almost as though he physically cannot endure the pain from blows rather than getting knocked out. He gets hit with what appears a simple jab but man when it lands it is violent, completely shutting Griffin down. Being the pro that he is, Silva does not pounce on Griffin, he knows he is hurt and lets the ref. step in to do his job. As Silva runs around the octagon celebrating, Griffin gets up with his corner-men and runs out of the octagon to the locker, really odd moment. Awesome demonstration of skills by Silva with a gutsy opponent in Griffin.
Main event is BJ Penn, UFC lightweight champion (Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Black-belt and naturally talented stand up fighter) v Kenny Florian(Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Black-belt). Please let me note that BJ is know as the "Prodigy" because of his amazing ability to master Jiu-Jitsu and grappling, it is a different level of black-belt than Florian. Though their records are similar in regards to the amounts of fights, Penn is much more experience due to the level of opponents he has faced. The knock on BJ has been his beach-boy lifestyle and lack of conditioning going into the Championship rounds (Rounds 4 and 5 are known a championship rounds, non-championship fight is 3 five minute rounds). Penn has made huge changes in his training camp and strength training, fans are waiting to see what they will get with the new BJ Penn. Florian is a hard working fighter, similar in the blue collar approach of Griffin and wants Penn's belt. Florian has run through some of the top contenders in this weight class.
As the fighters come out, Penn seems to have bad intentions and wants to get into a fight with Florian. As the fight progresses it is obvious Florian's strategy is to push Penn against the cage/fence and lean on him while attempting to take him down. This is a strategy used to exhaust fighters and take advantage of a tired fighter with top side control after the take down. This is a smart strategy for Florian, taking into consideration the conditioning history of Penn, but makes for a boring fight. Florian is never successful in his take down attempts and as they separate Penn repeatedly hits him with a combination of strikes the Florian seems he wants no part of. As the fight goes into the first Championship round, Penn seems to have had enough and simply attempts his first take-down. Penn picks Florian up in an effortless looking take-down and slams him hard falling into Florian's guard. Penn administers sound ground and pound techniques and then begins to pass Florian's guard eventually taking topside. Florian gives Penn his back in an attempt to get back to his feet and avoid strikes, but Penn is just too good. After a few seconds of ground and pound, Penn secures the rear-naked-choke. Florian puts up a solid effort to loosen Penn's grip but it is just too much for Florian and he taps. Penn looks like a new fighter and as a fan I truly hope he continues his new training program.
I wont go into details but honorable mentions for Sotiropoulos who faced a game opponent and demonstrated some very technical Jiu-Jitsu skills in his win.
I really enjoyed this UFC...so much so that I was up till about 4:30 a.m. from the adrenaline rush and just overall being wired. I recommend you catch this on the replay or on SpikeTV when it airs.