Amir Sadollah, it seems, is turning the corner. The likable winner of the seventh season of The Ultimate Fighter has always had the public relations side of the fight game under control. Now, almost three years into his professional career, his game is finally catching up to his fame.
On Saturday night, Sadollah won his fifth fight in the UFC Octagon, dismantling DeMarques Johnson, the season nine runner up who had won three of four in the UFC since losing by submission to James Wilks in the Utimate Fighter finale. And it's not just the win that has Sadollah fans excited - it's the way he won. Luke Thomas had the call for SBNation.com:
Hard knee to the body partially folds Johnson and now Sadollah is working on top on the floor in Johnson's half guard. Hard shots on top now from Sadollah and Johnson is struggling to stay alive in this round. Very hard knees to the body from Sadollah, but Johnson manages to stand. Authoratative outside trip from Sadollah leads to mount and now Sadollah is just crushing him. The referee stops the fight.
The second round dominance came only after losing the first round definitively on two judges' score cards. Nothing new there for a fighter who has gone to decision in four straight fights going into Saturday's stoppage. In the second round, Sadollah is typically just getting warmed up.
"I just felt a little better in the second round, more fluid. I'm kind of a notorious late starter as it is," Sadollah told UFC.com. While Johnson was a late replacement for Wilks, who in turn was a late replacement for original opponent Duane Ludwig, Sadollah says he didn't game plan for Johnson to fade as the fight went on. "I didn't go into this fight expecting him to be out of shape. Because I had no idea what he had been doing. He could have come into this fight in the best shape of his life. That's what we do- train. I couldn't assume he was going to gas. It was a fight that I thought if I put the pressure on, things would open up."
What's next for Sadollah is a step up in competition. At 30, time is a wasting. He's not a prospect who can be brought along slowly - when you start your pro career at 27, things need to move at an exaggerated pace. If Sadollah is going to make it to the top, there can't be anymore DeMarques Johnson's or Phil Baroni's. I know the Brit has already called out Chris Lytle, but a bout with Dan Hardy would be perfect to see where Sadollah stands in a crowded welterweight division.