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Breaking down UFC 101: Silva vs. Griffin

Former 205-pound champ should give middleweight champ a welcomed challenge

Image

Alejandro A. Alvarez / Philadelphia Daily News

UFC competitors Anderson Silva (left) and Forrest Griffin (right) pose together following the press conference in advance of Saturday’s card at the Wachovia Center.

UFC 101 Press Conference

UFC competitors BJ Penn (left) and Kenny Florian (right) pose together following the press conference in advance of Saturday's card at the Wachovia Center. Launch slideshow »

Fight Factor: Anderson Silva vs Forrest Griffin

A virtual simulation of the co-main event for Saturday's UFC 101 show in Philadelphia.

UFC 101 Workouts

Las Vegas Sun fighting writer Brett Okamoto goes inside the UFC 101 workouts. UFC 101 is Saturday with the co-main event being Forrest Griffin vs. Anderson Silva. The main event will feature BJ Penn defending his UFC Lightweight Championship against Kenny Florian.

UFC 101 Workouts

Fighters with the Ultimate Fight Championship hold workouts at the Loews Hotel in Center City Philadelphia on Wednesday afternoon August 5, 2009. Pictured is Anderson Silva, a light heavyweight fighting out of Curitiba, Brazil. He is shown flying through the air as he kicks a heavy bag. Launch slideshow »

UFC 101

  • What: UFC's first show in Philadelphia (Lightweight title fight between B.J. Penn vs. Kenny Florian; 205-pound bout with Anderson Silva vs. Forrest Griffin)
  • When: Saturday, Aug. 8
  • Where: Wachovia Center
  • TV: Pay-per-view

Beyond the Sun

Anderson Silva apologized to the crowd for boring them during his last fight at UFC 97 against Thales Leites. The ugly truth is, he was probably bored too.

There are plenty of emotions we expect someone who fights for a living to feel. Boredom just isn't one of them.

But after UFC President Dana White watched two consecutive "lackluster" performances from his middleweight champion, it was his belief that after building a 9-0 UFC record and defending his title five times, Silva looked a little bored out there.

"He's annihilated the 185-pound division, he's cleaned out the entire division," White said. "So I moved him up and told him, 'I want you to fight Forrest Griffin at 205 pounds.' He took the fight and now he's ready. He's excited again."

The possibilities of potential opponents for Silva is actually extremely long considering there are few options in his own weight class.

In addition to a title defense against top contender Dan Henderson, there has been speculation that a super-fight between Silva and welterweight Georges St. Pierre could find its way on to the UFC schedule. There has also been hope he could fight Wanderlei Silva, a former friend-turned rival in recent years.

Lightweight Kenny Florian even went as far as to say there is no fighter too big for the talented Silva - including 265-pound heavyweights.

"Anderson Silva is one of those guys that has the skills to compete with anybody, even up at heavyweight," Florian said. "The guy is an amazing athlete, amazing fighter."

According to White, Silva has already expressed interest in staying in the 205-pound weight class if he gets through Griffin. If that's the case, the new division would offer a long list of potential matchups for the Brazilian fighter.

"We were talking yesterday and he says if he beats Forrest Griffin, he's interested in hanging around in the 205 and facing some of the best," White said.

Griffin has a history of winning fights as an underdog, with recent wins over Mauricio Shogun Rua and Quinton "Rampage" Jackson coming to mind.

Defeating him will be no simple task, but if Silva can prevent Griffin from landing another upset win, it could open the door to more experiments in different weight classes.

If after all that he still looks bored, then we may have a problem.

Quick Hits:

Everyone knows that Griffin will be the bigger fighter come Aug. 8. The fight is being held in his division and he's already one of the biggest light heavyweights in the UFC, cutting down from a normal weight of between 225 to 230 pounds.

The question is whether or not he'll use that size to his ability.

One fighter who is an expert at using size to his advantage is Brock Lesnar. Lesnar bullies his opponents, gets them to the ground, exhausts them and hammers them into submission.

That's not Griffin's style. Even as a big fighter, he's shown time and time again that he trusts his hands and powerful leg kicks to get the job done. That just doesn't match up well with a counterpuncher like Silva.

Griffin admits that he knows this but also alludes that his game plan may not be to follow it. Only Saturday will tell.

"Well, if I was a better wrestler I'd take him down, make him wear my weight, get heavy on him - stuff like that," he said. "I'd try to mount and stay on top. I don't know. I'm sure I'll center myself in the cage though, that's just kind of a habit."

Last Time Out:

Anderson Silva: defeated Thales Leites on April 18 by unanimous decision.

Forrest Griffin: lost to Rashad Evans on Dec. 27, 2008 by TKO.

The Lines: Anderson Silva: -360; Forrest Griffin: +280

Final Words:

Anderson Silva: I'm always having a good time. I'm always relaxed. I feel part of the UFC family, I've been doing this since I was a kid. I enjoy preparing for a fight.

Forrest Griffin: I see myself as the underdog but it's a situation I embrace. I don't have so much to lose. So you got beat up by Anderson Silva, there's a big upside to that. Somebody's got to beat him sooner or later, anything can happen. He may break an ankle on his way to the cage.

Brett Okamoto can be reached at 948-7817 or [email protected].

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