Currently: 79° | Complete forecast | Log in

UFC 101: Breakdown and Picks

As UFC makes it debut in Philadelphia, we have enlisted the help of two sports writers from the Philadelphia Daily News, Bernard Fernandez and Kerith Gabriel, to break down the first UFC card in Pennsylvania and pick the winner of all 11 fights alongside the Las Vegas Sun's own boxing and mixed martial arts writers, Andy Samuelson and Brett Okamoto.

B.J. "The Prodigy" Penn

  • Age: 30
  • Height: 5-9
  • Weight: 155
  • UFC record 9-4-1
  • MMA record 13-5-1
  • Out of: Hilo, Hawaii

Kenny "Kenflo" Florian

  • Age: 33
  • Height: 5-10
  • Weight: 155
  • UFC record 9-2
  • MMA record 13-3
  • Out of: Boston

Lightweight Title Bout

Main Event

Last fight: Fourth-round TKO loss to Georges St. Pierre in UFC 94.

Punch list: Considered the best 155-pounder in the UFC, Penn is also the self-proclaimed "most decorated jiu-jitsu athlete in America." A bold statement backed by his current title and the distinction of being the former UFC world welterweight champion. Before the loss to St. Pierre at UFC 94, Penn had won his last three bouts: a TKO of Sean Sherk in UFC 84 and two by way of submission, the first by choking out WEC star Jens Pulver in the Ultimate Fighter 5 finale on Spike TV and a second-round smothering of Joe "Daddy" Stevenson at UFC 80.

Staff picks: Philadelphia Daily News

Fernandez: Florian – It seems like every major UFC event has an upset, and the main event has the look of a surprise in the making. Great as Penn has been, questions remain about how productive his revamped training regimen has been. Florian is hungry, pumped, fit and anxious to prove he’s deserving of a place among the sport’s elite.

Gabriel: Florian – This fight truly is Kenny Florian’s swan song if he wants to be considered among UFC’s elite. He has been on a tear since losing to Sean Sherk in UFC 64 and really battled his way back to proving he deserves another title shot. BJ Penn might be ready and hungry to regain his fury after his loss to Georges St. Pierre, but Florian wants to prove he deserves to be in this spot. To do that, he’ll be taking Penn’s lightweight belt and he’ll do it by split decision.

Last fight: First-round win by submission over Joe "Daddy" Stevenson in UFC 91.

Punch list: Between his clinch game and his spider-like jiu-jitsu skills, "Kenflo" is as smooth as they come. After a loss to Sean Sherk in UFC 64 (October 2006), he has been undefeated, with three of his six wins coming by submission. He also works as an MMA analyst for ESPN and was its lead analyst for UFC 100 last month in Las Vegas, putting to use his communications degree from Boston College.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun

Samuelson: Penn – Florian has all the tools and hunger to pull out the upset over the lightweight champ. Plus, the Boston-based “Kenflo” will certainly have the East Coast crowd on his side. That being said, Penn has plenty to prove after his lopsided loss to Georges St. Pierre in January, and ensuing fallout from “Greasegate,” the highly publicized accusations that GSP illegally used Vaseline. Penn keeps the title either in a war that goes the distance, or a third-round submission.

Okamoto: Penn – Don’t hold Penn’s last fight against him, Georges St. Pierre has a knack for making his opponents look winded and uncomfortable in the Octagon. Florian is a highly skilled fighter and will win a round or two, but in the end the UFC lightweight belt will stay around Penn’s waist in a split-decision win.

Anderson "The Spider" Silva

  • Age: 34
  • Height: 6-2
  • Weight: 205
  • UFC record 9-0
  • MMA record 24-4
  • Out of: Curitiba, Brazil

Forrest Griffin

  • Age: 30
  • Height: 6-3
  • Weight: 205
  • UFC record 7-3
  • MMA record 16-5
  • Out of: Las Vegas

Light Heavyweight Bout

Co-Main Event

Last fight: Unanimous decision over Thales Leites in UFC 97.

Punch list: Arguably the most technically advanced pound-for-pound fighter in the UFC, Silva is a threat regardless of weight class. His undefeated UFC mark boasts wins by way of knockout (2), technical knockout (4), submission (2) and his latest, a five-round basting of Thales Leites in April.

Staff picks: Philadelphia Daily News

Fernandez: Silva – One thing Griffin won't be hearing from action-craving fans in the Wachovia Center is "Run, Forrest, run." Not that he'd be disposed to listen to such advice in any case; he's a stand-his-ground plugger who generally gives as good as he gets. But Silva, despite being the naturally smaller man, might be the best pound-for-pound mixed martial artist in the world. If Griffin enters "The Spider's" web for a straight-up fight, talent wins out, as it usually does. Silva by third-round TKO.

Gabriel: Griffin – I know Silva is "the best fighter pound for pound" and he does have that pristine 9-0 UFC record, but if Griffin – who is still reeling from a loss to Rashad Evans in UFC 92 ‹ comes out and really utilizes his big frame and powerful striking ability to truly get in there and beat up Silva, we could be looking at an upset of monster proportion. It's going all three rounds, but my money likes Griffin by decision.

Last fight: Third-round loss by TKO to Rashad Evans in UFC 92.

Punch list: If any fighter in the UFC poses a threat to handing Silva his first loss, it's this former UFC light heavyweight champion. Don't let the TKO loss to Evans fool you; Griffin is one smart fighter, patient and an excellent striker with fists or feet. Just look at what he did to Quinton "Rampage" Jackson's already hobbled knee with one swift kick in their main event bout at UFC 86.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun

Samuelson: Silva – If anyone has it in them to shock the world and upset Silva, it's Griffin. The Las Vegas-based fighter is quicker and in the best shape of his life according to his trainers at Xtreme Couture. Griffin says the pressure is all on Silva's shoulders because of his lackluster showings against Patrick Côté and Thales Leites. Philly fans should expect fireworks on both sides, with Silva forcing a stoppage either late in the second or middle of the third.

Okamoto: Silva – Griffin might have the size advantage, but when it comes to style, Silva matches up beautifully against him. Silva is a counterpuncher and Griffin's size won't do him much good if he tries to trade strikes with his more talented opponent. I'm going with Silva by TKO in the second round.

Ricardo "Big Dog" Almeida

  • Age: 32
  • Height: 6-0
  • Weight: 185
  • UFC record 3-3
  • MMA record 10-3
  • Out of: Hamilton, N.J.

Kendall "Da Spyder" Grove

  • Age: 26
  • Height: 6-6
  • Weight: 185
  • UFC record 5-2
  • MMA record 12-5
  • Out of: Maui, Hawaii

Lightweight Title Bout

Last fight: Win by unanimous decision over Matt Horwich on Spike TV's "UFC Fight Night" (April 1).

Punch list: Boasting a solid ground game, Almeida's two other UFC wins came by submission, choking out Rob Yundt in UFC 81 and forcing Eugene Jackson to tapout in UFC 33.

Staff picks: Philadelphia Daily News

Fernandez: Almeida

Gabriel: Grove

Last fight: Won by TKO over Jason Day in UFC 96.

Punch list: Imposing size, a dominant standup game due to his long reach, and tons of heart. Grove is 2-for-2 since a TKO loss to Jorge Rivera at UFC 80 (January 2008).

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun

Samuelson: Almeida

Okamoto: Grove

Kurt "Batman" Pellegrino

  • Age: 30
  • Height: 5-8
  • Weight: 155
  • UFC record 6-3
  • MMA record 19-4
  • Out of: Point Pleasant, N.J.

Josh "The Dentist" Neer

  • Age: 26
  • Height: 5-11
  • Weight: 155
  • UFC record 4-4
  • MMA record 25-7-1
  • Out of: Des Moines, Iowa

Lightweight Title Bout

Last fight: Won by submission over Rob Emerson on Spike TV's "UFC Fight Night" (Feb. 7).

Punch list: Pellegrino is a seasoned pro whose wrestling abilities and mastery of Brazilian jiu-jitsu make him tough to put on the mat and an even tougher task once you get him there.

Staff picks: Philadelphia Daily News

Fernandez: Neer

Gabriel: Pellegrino

Last fight: Won by submission (choke) over Mac Danzig on Spike TV's "UFC Fight Night" (Feb. 7).

Punch list: Neer brings a fierce standup game but will also battle it out on the ground as he is always looking for the submission.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun

Samuelson: Pellegrino

Okamoto: Pellegrino

Johny Hendricks

  • Age: 25
  • Height: 5-9
  • Weight: 170
  • UFC record 2-0
  • MMA record 5-0
  • Out of: Las Vegas

Amir Sadollah

  • Age: 28
  • Height: 5-11
  • Weight: 170
  • UFC record 1-0
  • MMA record 2-0
  • Out of: Richmond, Va.

Welterweight Bout

Last fight: Won by unanimous decision over Alex Serdyukov in a World Extreme Cagefighting bout (March 1).

Punch list: Hendricks packs a punch and is considered a tough wrestler. Proven in the WEC, UFC's division for lightweight up-and-coming fighters. When asked his favorite technique for success, Hendricks quipped: "Punching people in the face."

Staff picks: Philadelphia Daily News

Fernandez: Hendricks

Gabriel: Sadollah

Last fight: Won by submission (arm lock) over CB Dollaway in "Ultimate Fighter 7" finale.

Punch list: Considered a technically well-rounded fighter who is proven in the amateur ranks at both 185 and 205 pounds.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun

Samuelson: Sadollah

Okamoto: Hendricks

Aaron Riley

  • Age: 28
  • Height: 5-8
  • Weight: 155
  • UFC record 1-3
  • MMA record 27-11-1
  • Out of: Seattle

Shane "Sugar" Nelson

  • Age: 25
  • Height: 5-9
  • Weight: 155
  • UFC record 2-0
  • MMA record 13-3
  • Out of: Hilo, Hawaii

Lightweight Bout

Last fight: Loss by TKO to Shane Nelson in UFC 96.

Punch list: An experienced, technically sound fighter, Riley knows what to expect out of Nelson - the second time around.

Staff picks: Philadelphia Daily News

Fernandez: Riley

Gabriel: Riley

Last fight: Won by TKO over Aaron Riley in UFC 96.

Punch list: Heavy hands and solid jiu-jitsu skills have Nelson standing tall with a 2-0 UFC record going into his rematch with Riley. Trains with BJ Penn's camp.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun

Samuelson: Nelson

Okamoto: Nelson

John "Doomsday" Howard

  • Age: 26
  • Height: 5-7
  • Weight: 170
  • UFC record 1-0
  • MMA record 11-4
  • Out of: Boston

Tamdan "The Barn Cat" McCrory

  • Age: 22
  • Height: 6-4
  • Weight: 170
  • UFC record 3-2
  • MMA record 12-2
  • Out of: Cortland, N.Y.

Welterweight Bout

Last fight: Won by split decision over Chris Wilson in UFC 94.

Punch list: Howard brings a bruising standup game, which aided his first UFC victory in January.

Staff picks: Philadelphia Daily News

Fernandez: Howard

Gabriel: McCrory

Last fight: Won by TKO over Ryan Madigan in UFC 96.

Punch list: Judging by McCrory's wiry frame, you'd never guess the youngster brings deceptive strength and a solid technical game to the Octagon.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun

Samuelson: McCrory

Okamoto: McCrory

Alessio "Legionarius" Sakara

  • Age: 27
  • Height: 6-0
  • Weight: 185
  • UFC record 4-4
  • MMA record 17-7 (one no contest)
  • Out of: Miami

Thales Leites

  • Age: 27
  • Height: 6-1
  • Weight: 185
  • UFC record 5-2
  • MMA record 14-2
  • Out of: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Middleweight Bout

Last fight: Won by knockout of Joe Vedepo at "UFC Fight Night" (Sept. 2008).

Punch list: With a big solid upper body, Sakara's main threat is his ability to knock the stuffing out of whatever he hits, proven in his last fight – a first-round knockout of Vedepo.

Staff picks: Philadelphia Daily News

Fernandez: Leites

Gabriel: Leites

Last fight: Loss by unanimous decision to Anderson Silva in UFC 97.

Punch list: With a top-notch ground game, Leites proved he is a force in the UFC after going toe-to-toe for five rounds in the loss to Silva in April.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun

Samuelson: Leites

Okamoto: Leites

Dan Cramer

  • Age: 23
  • Height: 6-2
  • Weight: 170
  • UFC record 1-0
  • MMA record 1-0
  • Out of: Bethel, Conn.; Coconut Creek, Fla.

Matthew Riddle

  • Age: 23
  • Height: 6-1
  • Weight: 170
  • UFC record 2-0
  • MMA record 2-0
  • Out of: Las Vegas

Welterweight Bout

Last fight: Won by split decision over Matt Arroyo in UFC 94.

Punch list: It's too early for a book on Cramer, who boasts just a single win by split decision in mixed martial arts. According to the UFC Web site, Cramer is considered aggressive, competitive and versatile. The perfect brew for an up-and-coming fighter.

Staff picks: Philadelphia Daily News

Fernandez: Cramer

Gabriel: Riddle

Last fight: Won by unanimous decision over Steve Bruno at "UFC Fight Night" (Feb. 7).

Punch list: Originally from Allentown, Riddle boasts a solid wrestling background as a high school national champion and a tough grappler at East Stroudsburg University. His deft striking abilities have made him a rising - and thus far undefeated - star in the UFC.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun

Samuelson: Riddle

Okamoto: Riddle

George Roop

  • Age: 27
  • Height: 6-1
  • Weight: 155
  • UFC record 1-1
  • MMA record 9-5
  • Out of: Las Vegas

George Sotiropoulos

  • Age: 32
  • Height: 5-10
  • Weight: 155
  • UFC record 2-0
  • MMA record 9-2
  • Out of: Las Vegas

Lightweight Bout

Last fight: Won by split decision over Dave Kaplan at UFC 98.

Punch list: With a brutal standup game and a long reach to his advantage, look for Roop to most likely turn his third UFC match into a slugfest.

Staff picks: Philadelphia Daily News

Fernandez: Sotiropoulos

Gabriel: Sotiropoulos

Last fight: Won by TKO over Roman Mitichyan at UFC Fight Night (April 2008).

Punch list: Sotiropoulos is considered a seasoned veteran, but his cardio and his ability to go the distance makes him a menace for fighters young and old. Technically sound, Sotiropoulos' standup and ground game make him an extremely tough nut to crack.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun

Samuelson: Sotiropoulos

Okamoto: Sotiropoulos

Danillo "Indio" Villefort

  • Age: 25
  • Height: 6-1
  • Weight: 170
  • UFC record 0-0
  • MMA record 9-2
  • Out of: Coconut Creek, Fla.

Jesse "The Ox" Lennox

  • Age: 27
  • Height: 5-9
  • Weight: 170
  • UFC record 0-0
  • MMA record 14-1
  • Out of: Bettendorf, Iowa

Welterweight Bout

Last fight: Won by TKO over Mike Campbell in a World Extreme Cagefighting bout (Jan. 25).

Punch list: From the now defunct IFL to the WEC, this will also be Villefort's first UFC bout, but the jiu-jitsu black belt hopes it's not his last.

Staff picks: Philadelphia Daily News

Fernandez: Lennox

Gabriel: Villefort

Last fight: Won by TKO over Blas Avena in a World Extreme Cagefighting bout (Jan. 25).

Punch list: Lennox will get to showcase his wrestling abilities in his first UFC fight. Originally trying MMA for "the fun of it," Lennox never imagined competing but said: "The UFC is the big stage and is the organization everyone wants to be in. I earned my way in here and am proud of that, but it's all about what I accomplish now that I am here."

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun

Samuelson: Villefort

Okamoto: Lennox