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July 31, 2014

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UFC 101:

Fighter says struggles only made him stronger

Finally healthy, Sadollah ready to shine in UFC 101

Image

Courtesy UFC

Amir Sadollah, right, lands a kick against C.B. Dollaway during “The Ultimate Fighter” season No. 7 finale in June 2008.

UFC 101

  • What: UFC's first show in Philadelphia (Lightweight title fight between B.J. Penn vs. Kenny Florian; 205-pound bout with Anderson Silva vs. Forrest Griffin)
  • When: Saturday, Aug. 8
  • Where: Wachovia Center
  • TV: Pay-per-view

As Amir Sadollah sat shaking in an ice-cold whirl tub last week at Xtreme Couture gym, it was the first time in a long time he enjoyed the recovery soak for what it was, recovery — and not to nurse an injury.

A pair of injuries have kept “The Ultimate Fighter” season No. 7 champ from fighting for more than a year. The last, and only, time Sadollah walked away from the Octagon a winner was after defeating C.B. Dollaway at the June 2008 finale of the Las Vegas-based reality show.

“To say that I’m eager to get back out there is quite the understatement. I can’t say it any better than that,” said Sadollah, who was forced off the UFC 91 card in November because of a leg infection.

A dislocated clavicle suffered in training forced the New York-born Sadollah from his second scheduled bout with middleweight Nick Catone for February’s UFC Fight Night 17 show.

But now Sadollah is fully recovered and ready to rumble with former NCAA wrestling champ Johny Hendricks in a welterweight bout Saturday at UFC 101 in Philadelphia.

“I’m completely excited to get back in the Octagon,” Sadollah said with a big smile. “Even if I wasn’t actually fighting for that year, I feel like I learned a lot.

“Either fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it both times I had to pull out, I got almost a full training camp in. So while it’s disappointing to not actually be in there, I’ve been very active and working on my game.”

Sadollah said the extra time and training with standouts at Xtreme Couture, like owner Randy Couture, Forrest Griffin, Vitor Belfort and Frank Trigg, was very helpful in his preparation for Hendricks, a four-time NCAA All-American at Oklahoma State.

“He’s a tough guy. He’s gonna be aggressive. He’s hungry like me and that’s always dangerous,” Sadollah said. “I prepare like I’m fighting the top guy in the world and for this one, that’s Johny.”

Plus, the two know each other fairly well. Hendricks, who trains with Team TakeDown in Las Vegas, shares the same boxing coach with Sadollah in Xtreme Couture’s Ron Frazier.

“It’s not the ideal situation. I would put it as a comparative experience to 'The Ultimate Fighter' where you have to fight a teammate with both of you knowing a lot about each other,” Sadollah said.

“But you’re going to have these kind of trials and tribulations your entire fight career. Last minute changes, possibilities of fighting friends, this and that.”

And for being out of the Octagon for so long, Sadollah says he would have fought just about anybody.

“This is what I do, I’m a fighter, so I’m just so ready to get back in there,” he said.

“Sure, I was really frustrated. But there’s nothing I could do but go forward. I could have sat in the house and feel sorry for myself as long as I wanted, but it won’t do me any good. I just tried to learn a lesson from the situation and will take everything I learned from the time off and try to apply in Philly.”

Andy Samuelson can be reached at [email protected] or 702-948-7837.

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