UFC 101 Preview: The Prelims


As usual, the undercard of UFC 101 is short on the big names that the main card is delivering, but it makes up for it with compelling matches featuring a heady mix of veterans, prospects and everything in between. Leading the fistic pack is a rematch between Shane Nelson and Aaron Riley and the return of Tamdan McCrory, who is fresh off another one of his “man spurts.” Don’t take that turn of phrase literally.

Also on deck is Thales Leites, who will look to rebuild his resume against Italian slugger Alessio Sakara, and a battle of “The Ultimate Fighter” alumni starring Dan Cramer and Matt Riddle’s terrible haircut. In other words, read on and get your knowledge fix in before your inevitable trip to the bookie. Remember, five-fight parlays are never a good idea if you value your thumbs.

After their first dustup ended prematurely thanks to a controversial stoppage benefitting Nelson, Riley gets his chance to set things right by turning Nelson’s jaw inside out. Easier said than done, as Nelson has looked solid in the UFC and will come out knowing full well that his spot is up for grabs. What he won’t be ready for is Riley’s versatility and wrestling edge, which will keep Nelson scrambling to find offense of his own while fending off a very grumpy Indiana boy.

While Riley has always been known as a banger, his best success comes when he uses his full breadth of skills to keep opponents off balance. After taking a nonsense TKO loss to Nelson, Riley will want to prove a point on the feet even though it may just leave him open to whatever Nelson wants to do. If Riley comes out looking to get his Mike Tyson on, he may well win, but it could just as easily cost him the fight.

Something tells me Nelson won’t be ready for the seven shades of pissed off that Riley will be rocking come fight time. With UFC careers on the line, the veteran Riley will press Nelson from the opening bell and put all the pressure on him. Sooner or later, Nelson will figure out he’s out of his depth and Riley will drive that point across Nelson’s chin with a senses-shattering right cross in the third round.

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