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UFC 101 Preview: Anderson Silva vs. Forrest Griffin

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Make no mistake. When it comes to Anderson "The Spider" Silva, we have been in the presence of greatness. Over the years, the 34 year old Brazilian has displayed both incredible striking ability and an impressive jiu-jitsu repertoire that seems to always be improving. Many observers consider either Silva or Georges St. Pierre to be the sport's pound for pound king. In an effort to further challenge the world's best middleweight, Zuffa asked that he test the light heavyweight waters again and he has agreed to do so. Having fought only once before at 205 pounds (a quick knockout of James "The Sandman" Irvin last Juy), Silva will have to quickly make the adjustment since he will be facing a very highly regarded opponent in the former champ. Saturday's fight comes on the heels of two successful title defenses that were considered boring by most fight fans, although against Leites it was apparent that he had an opponent in front of him who wasn't trying to engage in any real capacity. This fight is a great opportunity for Silva to remind fight fans why he's one of the best fighters ever. Silva currently has a professional record of 24-4 with 14 wins coming by way of knockout and 6 wins coming by submission. The combined career winning percentage of the opponents that he has faced is 68.6% (source: Sherdog.com).

People love Forrest Griffin. He's just one of those guys that has a great personality. People are almost drawn to pull for him. His winning performance on the first season of The Ultimate fighter and his subsequent run of exciting fights quickly won him a huge fanbase. Griffin is, obviously, a highly skilled fighter. But it's his tenacity and toughness that sets him apart. He works and prepares about as hard as any fighter in the game today. And when he's in the cage he keeps pushing and doesn't seem to take much time to rest. That's not to say that he just wades in recklessly. We've watched as Griffin's game has evolved over the past few years. He has shown to be a quick learner and, under the tutelage of the guys at Xtreme Couture, has proven that he can implement a successful gameplan against high-quality opposition. This opportunity is equally huge for Forrest since most fighters never get a chance to test themselves against one of the pound for pound all-time greats. At 30 he's still in peak form. Can he catch the 34 year old Silva and end his dominant run? Forrest Griffin has a professional record of 16-5 with 3 wins coming by way of knockout and 7 wins coming by submission. The combined career winning percentage of the opponents that he has faced is 75.7%.

Another element that makes this fight so compelling: it's not just that Silva will be jumping up to the light heavyweight division. It's that he'll be facing a very large light heavyweight. Griffin is approximately 6'3 and supposedly walks around at anywhere from 225 to 230 pounds. Be that as it may, I'm thinking that "The Spider" is going to eventually be too much for Griffin. Forrest always puts forth a valiant effort and I'm betting that we'll see him come in to this fight as well conditioned as he's ever been. But I just think that Silva's greater talent wins out. Part of me will be rooting for Griffin on Saturday night. In the end, he couldn't ask for more than this great opportunity. I'm also glad to see him getting big-time paydays and fighting near the top of pay-per-view events. He's earned it. Having said that, my prediction: Anderson Silva by knockout in the second. More importantly, what do you all think?