Well that wasn't supposed to happen.
Amir Sadollah won season seven of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) primarily with his submission skills off his back but he'd showcased an ever-improving Muay Thai kickboxing attack in the UFC.
He was expected to showcase his increasingly dangerous stand-up against aging kickboxer Duane Ludwig last night (August 14, 2011) in the opening bout of the UFC on Versus 5 main card but repeatedly found himself in serious trouble against the veteran.
When the fight went the full fifteen minutes, it was Ludwig who had his hand raised.
Found out what went wrong for Sadollah and where both men go from here below:
Something seemed wrong about Sadollah right away. He wasn't nearly as aggressive as usual, and he was getting completely outclassed in the clinch against the experienced Muay Thai kickboxer. His lack of wrestling was also exposed when Duane Ludwig not only easily stuffed his takedown attempts but actually took him down as well.
In the stand-up, the TUF champ looked like he was moving in slow motion, with nearly every jab or pawing left hand thrown getting countered hard by the Grudge fighter. Duane Ludwig repeatedly looked for the left hook counter and he continuously found a home for it on Amir Sadollah's face over and over again. He staggered Sadollah at least four times throughout the fight with that big left hook.
The only offense that the New York native could muster were some front kicks that scored to the body. Sadollah tried to push the pace in the final frame but it was too little too late and he handily lost a unanimous decision.
For Sadollah, he really needs to improve his speed and explosiveness in his striking. That slow, plodding/pawing style may work against guys that don't have good technique but it got obliterated by Ludwig. He's also got to work on protecting himself when he throws his right hand. He was open to the left hook counter all night and his opponent took advantage. Lastly and most importantly, he needs to improve his ability to take fights to the ground, whether it's with his sambo, judo or wrestling. Having a strong submission game is useless if you can't force your opponent to meet you on the canvas.
Expect Sadollah to face someone with a similar style to his like Daniel Roberts, fellow down on his luck TUF champ James Wilks or other tough fighters coming off a loss like Sean Pierson or even Dan Hardy (if the UFC actually is keeping Hardy around).
For Duane Ludwig, that was an incredibly solid performance. He was in control the entire fight and was better than Sadollah in every department. Not many actually picked the veteran to win (including myself) but he showed he's still got some fight left in him and perhaps this jump to the welterweight division has revitalized his career.
A fight with fellow veteran Brian Ebersole would make a lot of sense as both are 2-0 in the welterweight division and have been fighting for over 10 years. Other interesting prospects would be Rich Attonito or even a fellow scrapper like Martin Kampmann.
How much of a surprise was this fight to you, Maniacs? Can Ludwig actually make a good run in the welterweight division or was this just the perfect opponent at the perfect time? Will Amir Sadollah ever be a factor at 170?