UFC 101 Picks and Predictions
by Trevor Whenham - 8/6/2009
B.J. Penn (-270) vs. Kenny Florian (+210) - This one is billed as the main event, though the Silva fight is far more compelling in my eyes. This is Penn's first fight since he lost to Georges St. Pierre, so he needs to bounce back strong and establish himself firmly as the class of the lightweights. It won't be easy for him - Florian is the best lightweight he has faced in a long time, and he is riding a six fight winning streak. Penn has worked hard on his stamina recently, but I still think that Florian has better fitness and will gain an advantage the longer the fight goes. Florian is far more prone to over-committing and leaving himself open to exploitation, though. Still, I think the fight is close - much closer than the odds represent. That puts the value on Florian, and it means that I am uncharacteristically going to start off with an underdog.
Pick: Kenny Florian.
Anderson Silva (-500) vs. Forrest Griffin (+300) - Silva is, in my mind, the most naturally gifted fighter in the UFC. Unfortunately, through a combination of weak opponents and a frustrating conservative streak he has failed to show it in his last few matches. In fact, he has been incredibly boring. This fight is a bit of a strange one. Silva is the middleweight champion, but he lacks a current strong opponent in that division, so he has moved up to light heavyweight to face Griffin here. Griffin is among the best fighters he has faced, and he won't be afraid to stand toe to toe and slug it out. Silva has a clear technical edge in almost every aspect, though. This fight will be no pushover, and the price on Silva is probably a bit high, but I can't justify a pick on Griffin.
Pick: Anderson Silva.
Amir Sadollah (-120) vs. Johnny Hendricks (-115) - Sadollah was the unexpected winner of the Ultimate Fighter 7. Hendricks is making his UFC debut after coming over from WEC. Normally I don't pick a guy making his UFC debut. This fight is a total too-up, though. Sadollah is coming back from injury and hasn't fought for a year. Hendricks is a strong wrestler, and he can match up well when they are on their feet as well. I'll take Hendricks because of the slight value he offers.
Pick: Johnny Hendricks.
Ricardo Almeida (-160) vs. Kendall Grove (+130) - I'm surprised by the odds here. Almeida has decided to drop from middleweight to welterweight after this fight, so it seems unlikely that he will be completely focused here. Grove is a bigger fighter, and he has a big advantage when the fighters are on their feet. Almeida has an advantage on the ground, but I don't think that it is big enough to justify the price.
Pick: Kendall Grove.
Josh Neer (-250) vs. Kurt Pellegrino (+190) - Neither of these guys is particularly established as a real power. The fact that they are on the main card here is a sign of how weak this event is beyond the top two fights. Both guys match up reasonably well except for one clear difference - I think Neer is very much the superior when the fighters are on the ground. That gives him enough of an edge to justify the price.
Pick: Josh Neer.
Aaron Riley (-160) vs. Shane Nelson (+130) - This is a rematch of a fight that Nelson won at UFC 96 in a terrible TKO decision. Riley has a slight skill advantage and he'll be very hungry for revenge. That's enough of an edge.
Pick: Aaron Riley.
Tamdan McCrory (-175) vs. John Howard (+145) - This fight should be very good. Howard has won his only two UFC fights, and McCrory has a winning record. This one could be brutal, and I expect it to go the distance. I think McCrory has a skill advantage in most regards, and the style tips in his favor, so I expect him to win that decision.
Pick: Tamdan McCrory.
Thales Leites (-525) vs. Alessio Sakara (+325) - I'm not sure how Leites fell from grace to the extent that he is only on the preliminary card. He's a much better fighter than that. Sakara is solid, too, but I think that Leites has a pretty clear edge. This one will end by submission, and I wouldn't be surprised if it happened in the first round.
Pick: Thales Leites.
Matt Riddle (-165) vs. Dan Cramer (+135) - These guys were both in TUF 7, and neither has lost in the UFC. They won't be able to surprise each other, so it comes down to who has better skills. I think that that is Riddle.
Pick: Matt Riddle.
Danillo Villefort (-180) vs. Jesse Lennox (+150) - Like I said, I never like picking a guy making his UFC debut. I have no choice here, though - both guys are first-timers. They have both come over from WEC. They match up quite well. That means I don't really understand why Lennox is such a heavy underdog. In fact, I think he is the more all-round fighter, and he is better on his feet. That means value.
Pick: Jesse Lennox.
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