By Thomas Gerbasi
PHILADELPHIA, August 8 – UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva heard the boos, and he knows what the fans thought of his previous two bouts against Patrick Cote and Thales Leites. So what did the best fighter in the world, pound for pound, do in the UFC 101 co-feature at the Wachovia Center Saturday night? He put on one of the most spectacular striking displays ever seen in the Octagon, knocking out former UFC light heavyweight champion Forrest Griffin in less than four minutes of the first round.
And no one’s booing him now.
As advertised, Griffin came right at Silva, and the crowd was behind him immediately, chanting ‘Let’s go Forrest.’ The former light heavyweight champ threw out some range-finding kicks and jabs, but was unable to land on Silva, who caught Griffin’s first serious kick and tried to finish things with a right hand, but was unable to. Moments later, Silva got into the fray and dropped Griffin with a right hand. Griffin quickly recovered, but Silva was warmed up and ready to go. As Griffin rose, Silva stood in the pocket, ducked and dodged everything Griffin threw at him, and dropped his opponent again with a left hand. Griffin, game to the end, stood again, but as he came in, Silva threw a right hand while moving backwards and caught Griffin flush. The Las Vegan dropped to his back, but as Silva moved in, Griffin decided he had enough, and the bout was waved off by referee Kevin Mulhall at 3:23 of the opening round.
“I want to fight against the best,” said Silva. “Whoever the best is at the time, I want to fight them.”
With the win, his second at 205 pounds (both first round knockouts) Silva improves to 25-4; Griffin falls to 16-6.
The fans may not have liked it, believing Amir Sadollah got the short end of a quick hook, but Johny Hendricks certainly was impressive before the finish, as he halted the Ultimate Fighter season seven winner in just 29 seconds.
“It’s not my call,” said Hendricks, now 6-0. “I come out to do one thing and that’s win.”
Both fighters came out fast, and soon, fast led to swinging, and in Hendricks’ case, what followed was a left hand followed by a series of hard left uppercuts on the inside that dropped Sadollah (2-1). A follow-up attack brought in referee Dan Miragliotta to halt the bout, a decision that the Philly fans weren’t too happy with.
Hamilton, New Jersey resident Ricardo Almeida was steady throughout his middleweight bout with Kendall Grove, shutting out ‘Da Spyder’ over three rounds.
All three judges scored it 30-27 for Almeida.
Almeida rushed out of his corner at the bell, quickly closing the gap and nullifying Grove’s reach advantage. The 6 foot 6 Hawaiian wouldn’t give up an easy takedown though, and he battled fiercely with Almeida (11-3) against the fence before finally breaking free. Almeida kept pressing, scoring with a hard right hand before again bulling his adversary into the fence. Grove’s takedown defense was solid, but he finally hit the deck with 1:48 left in the round. Almeida immediately went for the kill, but Grove (12-6) got back to his feet. The round ended with Almeida on top though, courtesy of a solid slam to the mat.
Grove got on the board in the second in a big way, as he almost locked up an armbar on Almeida, but the grappling wizard found an escape, as you expect he would, and he went on to work on Grove from the top position. With 1:47 left, Almeida worked his way into side control, but Grove soon found and opening and got back to his feet. Unfortunately for him, Almeida kept him locked up before scoring a takedown shortly before the bell.
There was more of the same in the third, with the exception of Grove getting in some ground strikes on Almeida briefly. And though the ‘Big Dog’ appeared to be fatigued, he was still working and able to get this opponent to the canvas. Grove also kept working while looking to turn things around, but the big finish never came.
Kurt Pellegrino stuck to what he does best in the pay-per-view opener, using his wrestling to drill out a disciplined three round decision win over Josh Neer.
Scores were 30-27 across the board for Pellegrino, who improves to 20-4; Neer falls to 25-8 with 1 NC.
Neer put the pressure on immediately, stalking the favorite from Point Pleasant, New Jersey. Pellegrino wasn’t rattled though, as he picked Neer up as he got close and slammed him to the canvas. Both fighters stayed busy on the mat, with Neer almost catching Pellegrino in an armbar before ‘Batman’ slammed his way out of danger. The rest of the round saw both fighters battling for position while unleashing the occasional strike to keep each other honest.
Pellegrino traded with Neer to open round two, effectively using his striking to set up another takedown. Again, Neer looked for a submission against the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt, but was rebuffed. Neer kept working with elbows from the bottom position, but with a minute left, Pellegrino got into the mount position and then transitioned to Neer’s back. The bell intervened before he could capitalize though.
Striking effectively, this time with kicks, Pellegrino goaded Neer into firing back, and the New Jersey native took advantage by catching the kick and taking his opponent back to the mat. While there, he and Neer took turns punishing each other, and though Neer landed some hard elbows when the two stood at the end of the bout, it was too little too late.
After a controversial stoppage loss the first time around, Aaron Riley got even against Shane Nelson tonight in lightweight action, winning a shutout three round decision over the game Hawaiian.
All three judges saw it 30-27 for Riley, who improves to 28-11-1; Nelson falls to 13-4.
The first round was fast-paced, with Riley edging it out behind his experience and a more varied attack, though neither fighter was ever in serious danger.
That changed in the second round, as Riley started to land with some flush kicks and knees at close range that seemed to rattle Nelson. Riley must have sensed it too, as he took Nelson to the mat shortly thereafter. Riley wasn’t able to capitalize, forcing a standup with under a minute left.
The pace dipped in the third round, with Riley controlling matters with his ground and pound on the mat and solidifying his unanimous decision victory.
Preliminary Bouts not shown in the live Broadcast: Watch Now!