UFC 101: Hard Work vs. Natural Gifts, Pt. 2
Preview by Brady Crytzer
The Ultimate Fighting Championship will look to make a statement in its Keystone State debut when it presents UFC 101: Declaration. Though the two headlining bouts appear to be highly competitive, a key theme pervades the battles. On one side stands a tremendous specimen brandishing natural abilities that can never be taught. On the other, a tried and true underdog that has outmuscled and outhustled opponents on his way to the top of the sport. Now lets take a look as world middleweight champion Anderson “The Spider” Silva moves up to the light heavyweight limit to take on the former light heavyweight champion Forrest Griffin.
Plainly speaking, there is no one better in this game than Anderson Silva. Although there are better pedigreed strikers, Silva has proven time and again that he can manipulate his Muay Thai background effectively into the complete game of mixed martial arts. While his highlight reels appear as a tapestry of violence, Silva uses crafty footwork and immaculate timing to catch fighters coming in and moving out. As seen in his wins against Rich Franklin and Chris Leben, Silva’s knees and kicks are some of the deadliest in the game. But, as we witnessed against Nate Marquardt and James Irvin, “The Spider” possesses devastating one punch KO power that can end a fight at any time. Across the cage, Griffin has made a name for himself by sacrificing his height and reach advantage to land a potentially (but rare) fight ending blow.
Silva has never been outstruck in his career and it doesn’t look like Griffin will be the one to do it. Silva has appeared to be letting up as of late but he will not let a golden opportunity to land a KO counter punch pass him by.
There is a wild card in this fight and it will be the size of Forrest Griffin. Though Silva is used to being the taller man, the height, weight and reach advantage of The Ultimate Fighter 1 winner Griffin will be most apparent on the mat. Silva has been knocked for his lack of wrestling in the past, but submission wins over Travis Lutter and former Olympian Dan Henderson have proven that “The Spider” can overcome. Griffin, who is a tall order for even the biggest of light heavyweights, can use his size to push the smaller Silva around but will enter dangerous waters as he attempts to close the distance.
Forrest can make waves in this fight because of his size, and as we have seen in the past sometimes being bigger is enough. Silva has a more diverse submission arsenal, but conditioning and weight will give Griffin the slight edge. This fight however may never reach the mat.
How They Match Up
Given his last two performances coupled with Georges St. Pierre’s dismantling of Thiago Alves, it is safe to say that Anderson Silva is dangerously close to losing his pound for pound crown.
If he should try to make this fight as uninteresting as the others, Forrest Griffin will gladly mix it up.
Conventional wisdom says that Silva, with significant edges in both categories, will win this fight. But, as we have learned, an undersized favorite with poor prior performances means paydirt for everyone’s favorite underdog.
Look for Griffin to force the action but achieve undesired results as Silva’s striking makes it ten straight for “The Spider.”