by Brian Lopez-Benchimol – MMAWeekly.com
Reminiscent of the days that Rashad Evans graced his own season of The Ultimate Fighter, Amir Sadollah had all the odds stacked up against him going into TUF.
Season 7, coached by two of the UFC’s most charismatic fighters in former champions Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and Forrest Griffin, was where the new 32-man tournament blueprint was put into affect.
Sadollah, having had no professional fights going into the season as a middleweight was thought to be the season’s underdog, but quickly gained the respect of his peers with his more than stellar performance throughout the competition, having earned his way into the house by submitting UFC veteran Steven Byrnes in what only marked the beginning of something special.
His story, a plot stolen out of a Disney-esque, Rudy-like movie, the underdog eventually prevailed, knocking out and submitting his way into the finals. There, he would submit C.B Dollaway (whom he had met with previously on the show’s semifinals) once again via armbar.
Poised with a sense of humor and charm that holds a striking resemblance to fellow Xtreme Couture fighter and good friend Forrest Griffin, there was a lot of great things to look forward to when the Brooklyn, N.Y., native was set to make his official UFC debut… that was eight months ago.
Perpetual injuries left the 28-year-old out of action for just over a year since his initial inception into the UFC, but now he finally appears to have found his stride. He will face off against fellow undefeated fighter Johny Hendricks at UFC 101 this August, a tough WEC import that will mark Sadollah’s first move to the welterweight division, putting his infamous “Taco Bell and McDonald’s and Burger King” sandwich on the backburner, for now.
“Not until you just said that now,” he joked with the MMAWeekly radio crew, when proposed if he felt “cursed” to have been injured each time he was alleged to have made his post-TUF debut.
“I definitely, after each time, I had to stop and wonder and kind of analyze what happened and if I’ve done anything differently and I think I’ve done pretty well with learning the lessons that are available to be learned and kind of making the best of the situation”.
A fellow, yet casual Xtreme Couture affiliate, Hendricks has yet to brush up against the likes of Sadollah inside the facilities. However, the now Las Vegas resident will look to try and take out another strong opponent in Hendricks who will mark his fourth collegiate wrestler in his past five fights, including those on The Ultimate Fighter.
“How many times can this guy possibly push his luck with these wrestlers?” joked Sadollah.
Though frustrating, Sadollah chooses to look at this trend as a chance to work on what he perceives to be the weakness in his game and only hopes that opponents like a Johny Hendricks can propel him to that next level, to remain in the UFC for years to come and hopefully on a consistent basis.
“I don’t know. That’s just kind of the way that it worked. In a way, its funny how when I went on the show that was one of things that me and some of the guys back home were talking about that, that was probably a bad fight for me (a wrestler) or my weakest point that I need to have to work on to get better, to fight a really good wrestler and I’ve had a few of those so this is like continuing education.”
The education continues against Johny Hendricks on Aug. 8 at UFC 101 in Philadelphia.