Amir Sadollah (5-3, 5-3 UFC) vs. Jorge Lopez (11-2, 0-1 UFC)
The Matchup: Originally scheduled to take place at UFC 143 before injuries forced both men to withdraw from the card, “The Ultimate Fighter 7” winner Sadollah finally locks horns with Wanderlei Silva pupil Lopez some three months later.
What is impressive about Sadollah is that he had no prior professional experience before entering the Octagon. With all eight of his career bouts having taken place at the sport’s highest level, he is nothing if not battle-tested. In his last outing, Sadollah elected to stand and trade with Duane Ludwig and suffered the consequences, losing a unanimous decision at UFC Live 5. The California resident is not going to overwhelm anyone with his knockout power, but he possesses smooth technique and blends punches, kicks, knees and elbows together nicely to rack up points on the feet. He tends to struggle against physical wrestlers who can take him down and bully him on the mat.
Lopez saw his 10-fight unbeaten string snapped by Justin Edwards in his UFC debut in September. “Lil’ Monster” started slow, allowing Edwards to build a two-rounds-to-none lead on the strength of takedowns and moderate ground-and-pound. By the time he was able to mount some significant offense of his own in the final frame, it was too late. Lopez has a deliberate standup game backed by a strong right hand, but his counterpunching style sometimes leaves him waiting instead of initiating action. The Wand Fight Team product is a good all-around athlete and has a strong base -- he actually stuffed quite a few Edwards takedowns -- and will probably want to try and take down Sadollah.
Tie-ups will favor Sadollah, who delivers knees and elbows effectively in the clinch. Though his standup is not nearly on the level of Ludwig’s, Lopez can find some hope in the fact that the Colorado-based kickboxer wobbled Sadollah on a couple occasions with solid counter strikes.
The Pick: Lopez cannot wait on Sadollah; instead, he must be the aggressor and try to use his wrestling to dictate the tempo of the fight. Lopez has considered moving to 155 pounds in the past, so it is questionable as to whether he can overpower Sadollah in the manner that gives him the best opportunity to win. Look for some back-and-forth action, with Sadollah’s smooth striking ultimately landing enough to earn a decision victory.
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