Tuesday, August 4, 2009

FWP: Grove vs. Almeida

Back at the finale for The Ultimate Fighter Season 7, a loss would have most likely meant the end of the line for Season 3 winner Kendall "Da Spyder" Grove.

After earning a Split Decision victory that night over Evan Tanner in what would turn out to be the former champion's last fight, Grove is set to take on former King of Pancrase Ricardo Almeida at UFC 101 and looking to stretch his winning streak to three.

Kendall "Da Spyder" Grove (10-5, 1 NC) versus Ricardo "Big Dog" Almeida (10-3)

Almeida is an interesting case.

After leaving the UFC back in 2002, Almeida dominated in Pancrase for four years, earning victories over the likes of Kazuo Misaki and Nathan Marquardt.

Following three years off to focus on running his school in New Jersey, he returned to the UFC and has looked only average in going 2-1. Now he has declared his intentions to drop down to 170 following this fight, something that makes this bout all the more interesting.

Both Grove and Almeida have losses to Patrick Cote on their resumes; Grove in spectacular fashion under a flurry of fists and Almeida via Unanimous Decision. It's their performances since then that are most telling.

While Grove battled the former champion Tanner to a hard-fought victory and sent Jason Day packing with a first round knockout, Almeida was only able to grind out a decision victory over Matt Horwich back in April.

Grind is the key word with Almeida; outside of his return win over complete unknown Rob Yundt, Almeida looks to control fights with his high-level Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and take few risks, wearing out the opposition and grinding out a win.

Grove, on the other hand, is the kind of fighter many fans love; a guy who is going to come get you, even if it means getting caught and dropped from time-to-time.

What makes the Hawaiian such an study at middleweight is his length; Grove stands 6'6" tall and has a significant reach advantage over everyone he faces.

While Almeida will surely need to get inside and bring the fight to the ground, Grove has the length and striking skills to pick at Almeida from a distance and keep him on the outside.

In terms of training camps, I personally give the edge to Grove, who trains with close friend and fellow Hawaiian BJ Penn.

I know what you're thinking: how can anyone get the advantage when they train with "The Legend of Lazy" BJ Penn?

Easy: Penn has shifted his camp for the UFC 101 Main Event to California and rededicated himself to coming into this fight in the best shape of his life.

Assuming Grove also made the trip to train under Marv Marinovich, a man who basically bred his son to be a star quarterback and pushed him into oblivion in the process, will have Grove entering the ring in ridiculous condition.

One last thing: four of Grove's five losses come by way of knockout, something Almeida has never done to an opponent in his career.

I'm just sayin' is all.

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