UFC 101 Primer

By Jake Rossen Aug 7, 2009
To watch Anderson Silva glancing up at the giant screens that surround the Octagon venue to see the time he has remaining is an easily-ignored bit of ring strategizing.

But if you listen to Silva talk, you may begin to view it as a metaphor for the dwindling days of his career.

Silva has been vocal about his obsession with the finish line. He has four fights remaining on his UFC contract, and most expect him to either follow Roy Jones Jr. into a gymnasium unannounced or happily corral his children in Curitiba, seen only as background detail during the bouts of his friends and training partners. Already, his legacy weighs so heavily on his shoulders that he risked nothing in contests against Thales Leites and Patrick Cote.

Anderson Silva, it seems, is tired of being Anderson Silva.

In an effort to antagonize him, the UFC has enlisted Forrest Griffin, the brief 205 lb. champion who makes a habit of dragging opponents down into a quicksand of dirty fighting. Griffin gets his hands dirty and his face bloody as a matter of course: It seems unthinkable that the bout will be anything but entertaining.

If Silva does manage to inject a paralytic into the event, it won’t be the last thing anyone sees: headlining is a lightweight title fight between B.J. Penn and Kenny Florian, two men who are as combustible as Silva is questionable. If you’re only as good as your last fight, then the UFC has nothing to worry about.

What: UFC 101: Declaration, an 11-bout card from the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia

When: Saturday, August 8 at 10 PM ET

Why You Should Care: Because Penn is the most talented 155 lb. athlete in the combat sporting world when he chooses to be; because Florian’s work ethic and passion hasn’t yet turned him as apathetic as Penn can sometimes appear; because Griffin’s linebacker build is a curious problem for the lankier Silva to solve; because Amir Sadollah, the long-shelved “Ultimate Fighter” winner, is going to encounter both ring rust and Johny Hendricks, which is a little like getting both swine flu and food poisoning on the same weekend.

Fight of the Night: Penn/Florian will lack Fight of the Night honors only if the lights go out.

Sleeper Fight of the Night: Both Josh Neer and opponent Kurt Pellegrino sport two “Fight of the Night” awards each, normally awarded to athletes who put crowd interest first and their health second.

Pre-Emptive Complaint: 4-4 in the promotion, and Alessio Sakara is still getting work on a major pay-per-view?

Hype Quote of the Show: “I can be beaten, but I’m not going to be broken. I’m not going to ‘pitter-patter,’ I’m not going to run.” -- Griffin
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