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Home MMA MMA Comes to Philadelphia for UFC 101
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MMA Comes to Philadelphia for UFC 101

ufc_101With UFC 100 confirmed to have recorded 1.5 million PPV buys, it could prove to be a tough act to follow. But when the octagon heads to Philadelphia this Saturday no one will be complaining about the lack of talent on display. Lightweight champ BJ Penn will be looking to rebound from his devastating loss to Georges St. Pierre when he takes on number contender Kenny Florian, while the co-main event will see Middleweight champ Anderson Silva move up to 205 lbs to face former light heavyweight champion and season 1 Ultimate Fighter winner Forrest Griffin. With these and other great fights on the card the first UFC event in Pennsylvania is definitely one fans should be looking forward to.

BJ Penn is known as the prodigy for the reason. The man possesses natural talent that even the most seasoned MMA veterans envy. But the #1 lightweight fighter in the world looked very human against Georges St. Pierre when he moved up to 170 lbs to fight the Canadian superstar. “I lost my last fight,” said Penn, “and I want to get back in there, and I want to get back into form... I want to get back in the ring and I want to (take care of) business.” The loss may have been a blessing in disguise as its lead the fighter to re-evaluate his training. Penn has moved his camp to California to limit distractions. He’s also enlisted the help of Marv Marinovich to help improve his strength and conditioning. Penn’s fitness has always been questioned, and although he is always a dangerous fighter early in fights he has a reputation of fading in later rounds. A well conditioned, well prepared Penn would make stealing his UFC belt a tough task for any lightweight fighter.

That task will fall on the shoulders of emerging star Kenny Florian. “Kenflo” has compiled and impressive 6 fight win streak and is eager to get in the octagon for his second title shot, his first being a loss to Sean Sherk. “I always go back and say you know I wish I could be undefeated and I wish I did this or that, but that's what motivates me,” said Florian. “Those things are what motivate me.  I don't want that to ever happen again.” And so far it hasn’t. Florian has rattled off wins against the likes of Joe Lauzon, Roger Huerta and most recently a decisive first round submission victory over Joe Stevenson. Originally known as a jui-jitsu fighter, Florian is now recognized as an excellent Muay Thai fighter as well. The Massachusetts fighter also has a penchant for finishing fights, with only 4 of his 14 fights going the distance.

Both fighters are hungry for the win, and both have something to prove. Penn should be the favourite in this fight, but don’t be fooled, this one will be close. “(Kenny) has improved by leaps and bounds since his UFC debut on the Ultimate Fighter,” said UFC president Dana White. “Both of these guys excel standing and on the ground so I am expecting non-stop action in this world title fight.”

In what could have been the main event, Anderson Silva is moving up a weight class to take on Forrest Griffin. Silva is riding the longest winning streak in UFC history after recording his ninth consecutive victory over Thales Leites at UFC 97. The native of Brazil has essentially cleared out the middleweight division, defeating the likes of Rich Franklin, Nate Marquardt and Dan Henderson. Despite these achievements however, many see his last two fights against Patrick Cote and Leites as unimpressive and rather boring victories. In search of an exciting opponent and a greater challenge Silva has decided to make his second foray into the light heavyweight division. If his fight with highly regarded light heavyweight fighter James Irvin (a 61 second knockout victory) is any indication, Silva is just as dangerous at 205 lbs as he is at 185 lbs.

Issued with the task of challenging one of the top fighters in the world is the man credited with bringing MMA its first mainstream success. Always a fan favourite, Griffin was riding high after two upset victories over Mauricio “Shogun” Rua and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, the latter winning him the light heavyweight championship. But the good times didn’t last long, as Griffin failed to defend the title and lost it in December to Rashad Evans. He’ll be looking to use Silva as a way to vault him back into title contention, and despite being a heavy underdog Griffin believes he has as good a shot as any at beating the middleweight champ. “I know if I bring the game that I’m capable of to the fight, it’ll be a good fight, and people will be excited about that.”

Whether Griffin really does have a chance is up in the air, but this bout does guarantee one thing and that’s excitement. The former TUF winner has never been one to sit back, and with Silva’s famous pin point striking chances are one of these fighters will leave the octagon seeing stars.

Other bouts set for this Saturday include Ultimate Fighter season 7 winner Amir Sadollah making his first appearance in a year as he takes on former WEC fight Johnny Hendricks, TUF season 3 winner Kendall Grove fighting Ricardo Almeida and Josh Neer making his PPV debut as he faces off against Kurt Pellegrino.

 

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