May 15, 2012; Fairfax, VA, USA; Amir Sadollah (right) forces Jorge Lopez (left) into the cage during the Korean Zombie vs Poirier event at Patriot Center. Mandatory Credit: Rafael Suanes-US PRESSWIRE
Amir Sadollah's career has certainly stalled out. Since winning The Ultimate Fighter, Amir has struggled with steps up in competition and, in cases such as this past Saturday night's UFC on Fuel TV 3 card, struggle at times against even middling opposition.
It's been a disappointment for many UFC fans in many ways. After all, Amir won his season of TUF despite never having fought professionally, only having a 4-0 amateur fighting record when he started his time in the house. Beating Gerald Harris, Matt Brown and C.B. Dollaway (twice) to win the competition was a huge moment that seemed to cast Sadollah in the role of a mixed martial arts prodigy.
After beating unheralded Jorge Lopez by controversial, and quite boring, split decision on Saturday, many fans feel they have seen enough of the 31-year-old to write him off. Chad Dundas of ESPN still thinks fans should note the extreme circumstances of Amir's career:
It would be a little like playing a few touch football games, winning a televised punt, pass and kick contest and then, in your late 20s, getting a starting job in the NFL.
Could anyone succeed under those circumstances? Could anyone be reasonably expected to compete? And while they tried to compete, would a bunch of people sit around posting messages on Twitter about what a crappy job they were doing tackling Adrian Peterson? Because that's essentially what happens to Sadollah.
Amir does deserve considerable credit for managing an unspectacular, but certainly credible, UFC run that began with no professional experience. But he has been getting top of the line training over the past four years and was put into a prominent spot on Saturday's card (even if Dana suddenly acted as though he had no clue of Amir's position on the card).
To answer Dundas' question: yes, people would sit around criticizing any player on a pro team who was put into an important position and looked incapable of handling it. Especially after four years in the big leagues. Fair or not, there are expectations that come with positions in professional sports.
For me, what is most disappointing is that the Amir who ran through a pretty good TUF cast is struggling all this time later against a guy like Jorge Lopez. There simply were expectations that came along with what Amir had been doing that fans expected him to run through a guy like Lopez four years after the reality show run.
And at 31, it's not as though we can continue pretending that Amir is a young man with infinite time to refine his game. This may simply be as good as he gets, and that is disappointing.