Alejandro A. Alvarez / Philadelphia Daily News
Monday, Aug. 10, 2009 | 2 a.m.
- What’s next for Silva?
- Penn delivers encore performance
- Champs put on dominant display at UFC 101
- Tale of the Tape: Breakdown & Picks
- Fighters, Philadelphia fans weigh in
- Breaking down UFC 101: Penn vs. Florian
- The new and improved Kenny Florian
- Even champions need comebacks sometimes
- Breaking down UFC 101: Silva vs. Griffin
- Griffin returns to comfortable role as underdog
- Silva already putting on a show
- Road Blog from Philly
- Fighter says struggles only made him stronger
- Las Vegas fighter will battle in home state at UFC 101
- All-Star Victorino welcomes UFC to Philadelphia
- Philly native pumped for UFC's first event in hometown
- Complete UFC 101 coverage
PHILADELPHIA — Saturday night some 17,000-plus fans of mixed martial arts packed the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia to watch what the East Coast has been missing for almost two years — a major Ultimate Fighting Championship event.
The Philly fans notorious for being tough even on home teams, weren’t shy about letting UFC fighters know when they were displeased with the action, or lack thereof — a chorus of boos became the refrain. But by the time all was said and done the Philly faithful showered their support on the Las Vegas-based fight organization.
“Philly is known for being one of the biggest fight towns in America if not the biggest fight town in America," said UFC president Dana White. "I'm happy to bring big fights back here."
Here’s a breakdown of UFC 101, dubbed “Declaration,” by the numbers.
Division rank of Anderson Silva and B.J. Penn. Middleweight champion Silva and lightweight-belt-holder Penn proved why they are two of the best in the world, each ending his bout in electrifying fashion.
Silva put on the most spectacular show, with a Muhammad Ali-esque knockout of former 205-pound champ Forrest Griffin just 3:23 into the first round.
Not to be outdone, Penn, coming off his lopsided loss to welterweight champ Georges St. Pierre in January, proved he’s still the top lightweight in the UFC by dominating Kenny Florian for three rounds before concluding the contest with a chokehold in the fourth.
“After you get a loss like I had it's very important to come back. I wasn't used to going places and hearing fans booing,” Penn said. “I wanted to come back and show everybody that I am still a fighter. Fighting is my life."
Likely date of a UFC event in Boston. With the success of the Philly event, it’s only a matter of time until the UFC chases down East Coast dream markets in New York and Boston. White has said the time frame for a New York event doesn’t matter, “because it’s gonna get done,” but the organization won't likely bide its time.
Boston next year looks like a strong possibility considering the Massachusetts State Senate voted last month to approve a bill that would bring MMA sanctioning.
Then late Saturday night White announced hopes of doing the show in historic Fenway Park, home of the Red Sox.
“We're definitely going to Boston,” White said earlier in the weekend. ... “We're going everywhere."
The gate amount for Saturday night, a Pennsylvania combat-sports record. And this with only a few months of MMA sanctioning in the Keystone State, compared with decades of prizefights and big boxing names — Joe Frazier, Marvin Hagler, Roberto Duran, Michael Spinks, and Tommy Hearns, to name a few. A 1920s match with Jack Dempsey drew more than 120,000 spectators.
Possible weight class for Silva's next fight. White says Silva will likely fight Dan Henderson next for his middleweight belt, but future foes haven’t been cemented. “The Spider” has cleaned out the 185-pound division, and already defeated Henderson, the former Pride champ. A Yahoo Sports report says Silva would surrender the 185-pound crown to move up to the more competitive light heavyweight division.
That would likely mean a showdown with his close friend Lyoto Machida. But Silva regards Machida as a brother and reiterated he would never fight him.
Though Silva may have looked lackluster in earlier wins over Patrick Cote and Thales Leites, he proved again Saturday night with his destruction of Griffin what makes him the most exciting fighter in the world.
"I want to see somebody in this room or anywhere else deny who the pound-for-pound best fighter in the world is now," said White after Silva picked up his record 10th straight win.