Philly is a remarkable sports town. Before the first fight on the undercard of UFC 101 — one of 11 fights — the Wachovia Center was already filled up and rocking.
At a big boxing show, there is usually 100 people in the arena for the first fight.
And just across the street, there were 40,000 people at Citizens Bank Park watching the Phillies.
Philly is a tough sports town. Ten seconds into the first fight, a welterweight bout betweehn Jesse Lennox and Danillo Villefort — they were booing because nobody had thrown any punches yet.
The crowd got their money’s worth. It was a great start to the night. Villefort won the first round with several strong kicks to the head. But Lennox had the better stand up striking skills, and pounded away at Villefort in the second round, putting him down twice. He put Villefort down again early in round three, but then got caught in an armbar while the two fighters were on the ground. It seemed as if Villefort was going to get a submission, but Lennox managed to get out of it, which brought a roar of approval from the crowd. Lennox’s pounding had taken its toll on Villefort, who had a severe cut over his left eye, and the fight was stopped at 3:37 of the third round — which of course riled the crowd up. Lennox upped his record to 15-1, while Villefort fell to 9-3.
They can boo all they want. UFC officials are elated to be in Philly. UFC vice president Marc Ratner said the live gate could wind up being a record $3.6 million.
The second fight had more ground action, as George Sotiropoulos dominated George Roop (9-6) in a lightweight contest, which ended at 1:59 of round two with a tapout win by Sotiropoulos, whose record is now 10-2.
Fight number three had a local boy — Matthew Riddle from Allentown — who immediately became the fan favorite, against Dan Cramer in a welterweight contest. It looked as if Riddle was done early, caught in a headlock, but he managed to get out of it, and by the cheers from the crowd, you would have thought Bernard Hopkins had just knocked out Oscar De La Hoya.
Riddle dominated the second round with his ground and pound game, but got caught early with a right hand to open the third round and went down. He recovered and then continued to keep Cramer on the mat and pound away. Liddle controlled the rest of the round, pounding on a bleeding Cramer, untili about 10 seconds left, when bothfighters got up from the mat and traded blows in the middle of the octagon. Liddle (3-0) won a unanimous decision over Cramer (1-1).
More to come..