Main Card Bouts: -Evan Tanner vs. Kendall Grove
The main event is the tale of two fighters who find both find themselves at a crossroad in their respective careers.
The 37 year old Tanner is a battle tested veteran, in Tanners 39 fights he’s constantly fought agaisnt top competition. After an April 2006 win over Justin Levens it seemed Tanner was leaving the sport. Tanner was battling personal issues and all the while “blogging” his experience on MySpace. For those of us who followed his story his return to the ring last March was a welcome sight. Tanner was in shape but noticeably rusty, he was overwhelmed by the stronger and quicker Yusin Okami.
Grove, 26, was the winner of The Ultimate fighter. The first thing you notice about Grove is that he’s 6′6, which is pretty impressive considering he weighs 185 pounds. Being significantly taller than your opponents it gives you a lot of advantages. Grove can hit knees from the clinch with relative ease, he has an insane reach advantage over most fighters and his long legs give him a dangerous guard (and up kicks.) Grove won his first three UFC fights before falling to both Jorge Rivera and Patrick Cote.
Both fighters have a well rounded game and neither has a particular advantage standing or grappling. For Tanner to win he will need to stay out of the clinch. He should try to pick away at Kendall on his feet and than either shoot or catch a kick and work for a take down. Kendall should use his reach and quickness to his advantage, he should also look to clinch and knee.
I love Tanner to death but I question how much he truly has left in the tank. He came out flat agaisnt Okami, which was to be expected, but he also might just be at the end of his rope. Grove needs a win here desperately or he may find himself out of the UFC. I was shocked to see the odds of this fight and see Tanner as almost a 2-1 favorite. I just don’t see it.
Grove T.K.O Round 2.
-Ultimate Fighter 7 Finale: Amir Sadollah vs. C.B. Dollaway
The co-main event is actually a rematch of a semi-final fight between Amir Sadollah and C.B Dollaway. Amir is a great story. He was an impressive 0-0 entering the Ultimate Fighter and he rattled off four impressive victories to will his way into the finals. He’s primarily a kick boxer as his razor sharp striking would indicate, however what’s impressed me the most about Amir is how quickly he’s picked up the other aspects of MMA (as he arm bar victory over C.B. Dollaway would indicate)
Dollaway is from the Tito Ortiz school of MMA, ground and pound. He’s a wrestler at heart but unlike other wrestlers (looking at you Matt Hamill) he has above average striking. What we haven’t seen from C.B is how he responds to being on his back, however I doubt Amir will be able to put him in such a position.
As I predicted C.B. Dollaway is the favorite despite have lost to Amir in the semi-finals. How can that be you ask? It’s simple C.B is just more physical and has much better wrestling. Remember C.B was winning that fight, handidly, before being caught in a submission. Amir has a great future in this sport and he is a true warrior but I like C.B. Dollaway in the rematch, either via a decision or ground and pound.
C.B via T.K.O round 2
-Diego Sanchez vs. Luigi Fioravanti
Another fighter (and former Ultimate Fighter Champ) at a crossroads is Diego Sanchez. Sporting a 17-0 record Sanchez lost back to back fights to Josh Koscheck and Jon Fitch. Sanchez rebounded in impressive fashion against David Biekhanden moving his record to 18-2. I’ve never been as impressed by Sanchez’s game as other people have. He has great wrestling, ground and pound and cardio but on his feet he’s got nothing. If you can out-wrestle or defend agaisnt Sanchez’s take downs he’s got nothing.
Luigi Fiorvanti is a fighter that I feel never gets any respect (He’s nearly a 4-1 underdog in this fight.) He’s fought above his weight, on short notice…pretty much doing anything the UFC has asked of him. He’s a well rounded fighter.
I think Sanchez will win this fight but if I’m a betting man I like the underdog. Sanchez wins a lot of his fights by decision and he won’t be able to overwhelm Luigi like he has other opponents. I predict another unimpressive performance by Diego and a rather thin decision victory.
Sanchez via Decision.
Spencer Fisher vs. Jeremy Stephens
Fisher is an exciting lightweight fighter who’s coming off a loss to Frank Edgar. Fisher is another very well rounded fighter with his biggest weakness being his wrestling. Stephens is a young fighter who was thrown in the fire in the UFC agaisnt Din Thomas. He hold his own in that fight before being submitted with an arm-bar. Since than he’s rattled off three impressive wins, two in the UFC.
This has makings of fight of the night. This is a tough fight to call, I give Fisher the edge based on experience but it wouldn’t shock me to see Stephens take this one.
Fisher T.K.O round 3.
-Dante Rivera vs. Matthew Riddle
The first fight of the night is the fight I’m least excited for. Nothing agaisnt Riddle and Rivera but the only reason this fight is on the main card instead of more deserving under card fights is because they “had a rivalry” on the Ultimate Fighter.
I’ll make this short and sweet. Rivera is more experienced, he’s fought in the IFL before, and honestly I’m shocked he didn’t make it farther on the T.V. show. Riddle is young and has a future in front of him but he’s not in Rivera’s leauge yet.
Rivera arm-bar round 2. Preliminary Bouts: -Josh Burkman vs. Dustin Hazelett -Marvin Eastman vs. Drew McFedries -Matt Arroyo vs. Matt Brown -Dean Lister vs. Jeremy Horn -Tim Credeur vs. Cale Yarbrough -Rob Yundt vs. Rob Kimmons
Pretty sick under card. Burkman vs. Hazlett is the fight that irks me the most that isn’t on the main card. That’s going to be a war. Also shocking that big name fighters like Eastman, Lister and Horn aren’t on the main card. Of course the Lister/Horn fight is a snooze fest waiting to happen.
The main card airs live on Spike TV from 9:00 PM to 12:00 AM (ET/PT) on Saturday, June 21. Enjoy!