by Ricardo Mendoza – MMAWeekly.com
AMIR SADOLLAH VS. JOHNY HENDRICKS
Ultimate Fighter 7 winner Amir Sadollah makes his UFC pay-per-view debut against former NCAA wrestling champion Johny Hendricks. Both fighters are undefeated prospects and look to be the future in the UFC welterweight division for years to come. This is an interesting contrast in styles with Sadollah being a hybrid fighter, while Hendricks is a wrestling based fighter.
The one advantage that Sadollah has over Hendricks is his striking ability. Although both fighters are young and still learning, Sadollah at this point is the much better striker of the two. Hendricks will need to close the distance on the feet and not give Sadollah an inch to work.
This fight really gets interesting on the ground. Hendricks is a world-class wrestler and he will look to impose his will. Sadollah on the other hand will look to stay relaxed and work off his back with submissions. This is an evenly matched fight, but at this point in their careers, Sadollah is the more well-rounded fighter and that should give him the edge in a close fight.
RICARDO ALMEIDA VS. KENDALL GROVE
Renzo Gracie black belt Ricardo Almeida faces off with Ultimate Fighter 3 winner Kendall Grove. It will be interesting to see how each approaches the fight, as both fighters have specific weaknesses that their opponent can exploit.
Almeida has a distinct advantage on the ground. If he can get the fight there then it will be a rather quick night. One thing that has hindered him is a lack of solid takedowns. That is where he can be exploited by Grove, who can pick him apart on the feet by using his big reach advantage.
The fight basically comes down to whether or not Almeida can get the fight to the ground. If he can, then he’ll have a good night; if not, then Grove will be celebrating another victory.
KURT PELLEGRINO VS. JOSH NEER
Colorful Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu fighter Kurt Pellegrino faces off with hardnosed Midwest wrestler Josh Neer. Both fighters are coming off impressive submission victories at Ultimate Fight Night 17 over tough competition. This fight has the potential to be fight of the night, as both fighters like a frantic pace that makes it an exciting spectacle for the fans.
They are rather equal on the feet, as both can put together effective combinations to hurt one another. On the ground, they have vastly different styles of fighting with Pellegrino being a submission fighter and Neer being an effective wrestler. The fight will go to the ground, but the key to the fight will be whether or not Neer can stay out of Pellegrino’s submission attacks. If he is able to do so, then he will rain down some fierce ground and pound. Pellegrino needs to lock on a submission. If not, it’s going to be a long and painful night for him.
AARON RILEY VS. SHANE NELSON
Mixed martial arts veteran Aaron Riley takes on Hawaiian lightweight Shane Nelson. This is a rematch of their controversial fight back at UFC 96, where Nelson won after a questionable stoppage when Riley was still very much in the fight.
Riley will look to turn the fight into a brawl by getting on the inside and tagging Nelson. Nelson will look to keep the distance on the feet and pick his shots. On the ground he has a slight advantage over Riley. One way or another, unfinished business will finally be handled on Saturday night for these two fighters.
TAMDAN MCCRORY VS. JOHN HOWARD
In a battle of East coast natives, Tamdan McCrory takes on wrestler John Howard. This is an interesting contrast in styles, as Howard is a powerful wrestler, McCrory a tall and lanky striker. Howard surprised many when he was able to effectively ground and pound Chris Wilson in his UFC debut with such ease, while McCory comes off a rather easy win over the overmatched Ryan Madigan.
Look for Howard to close the distance and try to take the fight to the ground, where he has an advantage. McCrory on the other hand will look to keep the distance and use combinations to win the fight.
ALESSIO SAKARA VS. THALES LEITES
American Top Team striker Alessio Sakara takes on Nova Uniao middleweight Thales Leites. Both fighters need a win, so expect them to come out for the kill. Leites needs to erase the memory of his poor performance against Anderson Silva, while Sakara needs to prove he can compete against the top fighters in the division.
Sakara will be looking to knock Leites head off. Leites will be attempting to lock on a submission. One thing that Sakara isn’t is Silva, so look for Leites to engage without fear this time around. Either way the fight will end in the opening round, as Leites gets the fight on the ground and locks on a submission on Sakara.
MATT RIDDLE VS. DAN CRAMER
Arizona Combat Sports trained Matt Riddle takes on American Top Team fighter Dan Cramer. Both fighters are prospects that have a long way to go, but are in the UFC for their immense potential.
Neither fighter has a clear advantage on the feet. They are both ground fighters, but the one thing that sets them apart is Riddle’s extensive wrestling background, which will prove to be the difference in the fight. He’ll use it to his advantage and end up on top, ground and pounding his way to a decision victory.
GEORGE SOTIROPOULOS VS. GEORGE ROOP
Australian native George Sotiropoulos takes on Ultimate Fighter 8 participant George Roop. Sotiropoulos finally makes his Octagon return after injuries have kept him out for a year and half. Roop is a late replacement. They were actually training together at Xtreme Couture when they found out that they would be fighting one another.
Roop is the stronger fighter on the feet with his boxing ability, while Sotiropoulos is the much better ground fighter of the two with his submission expertise. Look for the fight to eventually hit the ground and Sotiropoulos to lock on a submission late in the opening round.
JESSE LENNOX VS. DANILLO VILLEFORT
In a battle of welterweight prospects, Miletich trained Jesse Lennox takes on American Top Team trained Danillo Villefort. Both are coming off impressive victories in the WEC and now will be making their UFC debuts against one another.
Lennox is a strong wrestler with decent striking ability, but his strength is his immense punching power. Villefort is primarily a ground fighter and look for him to take the fight there, searching for submissions from the get go. The fight will hit the ground and that is where Villefort will impose his will on the less submission savvy Lennox.