(Johny Hendricks vs. Richard Gamble, 3/15/08)
Saturday night will see the Octagon debuts of three welterweights who joined up with the WEC just before the league folded its 170-pound division. Now the UFC will give these fighters a chance to prove themselves — slotting one of them in a high-profile main card fight against TUF 7 winner Amir Sadollah. Get to know UFC 101’s trio of newbies below…
JOHNY HENDRICKS (WW)
Experience: 5-0 record (3 wins by TKO, 1 by submission). His last two fights were in the WEC, where he defeated Justin Haskins and Alex Serdyukov.
Will be facing: Amir Sadollah (1-0 MMA/UFC)??
Lowdown: While wrestling at Oklahoma State University, Hendricks won two NCAA Division I titles at 165-pounds, and was a three-time Big 12 Conference champion. After graduating in 2007, he racked up three MMA wins in local Oklahoma shows before joining the WEC. But despite his fearsome wrestling credentials, he doesn’t plan on laying on top of Sadollah for three rounds. As he said in this UFC.com profile: “You can’t afford to play in Amir’s guard at any point. A lot of wrestlers have tried that with Amir and have ended up failing badly…I actually now like to stand and strike. I’ve tried to finish all my fights while standing on my feet. If I take a guy down and he wants to get back up, I’ll just let them…I want to provide entertaining fights, not wrestling matches. If I’m not active on top, I’ll back out and stand up. The happiness of the fans is what pays the bills and I’m aware of that.” Hendricks has recently been training at Striking Unlimited in Las Vegas.
(Jesse Lennox vs. Mike Hueser, 1/6/07)
JESSE LENNOX (WW)
Experience: 13-1 record (all wins by stoppage), with appearances in the IFL, Adrenaline MMA, and the WEC. Is on a three-fight win streak, and most recently knocked out Blas Avena at WEC 38 in January.?
Will be facing: Danillo Billefort (see below)??
Lowdown: The Iowa-bred "Ox" is a product of Miletich Fighting Systems, and may soon be partly responsible for a reconciliation between Pat Miletich and Dana White. Lennox has worked as a paramedic since 2005, wrestled in high school, and took up boxing in college. His only career loss came against Emyr Bussade after Lennox was asked to be a short-notice replacement for Rory Markham at an IFL event last April. He drives a 1985 Buick Century and credits his father as the bigest positive influence in his life.
(Danillo Villefort v. Mike Massenzio, 5/16/08)
DANILLO VILLEFORT (WW)
Experience: 9-2 record (6 wins by first-round stoppage), with appearances in Jungle Fight, the IFL, and the WEC. Is on a five-fight win streak, and most recently TKO’d Mike Campbell at WEC 38.?
Will be facing: Jesse Lennox (see above)
Lowdown: Danillo’s father, Francisco, is a former vale tudo fighter who competed in an estimated 280 matches, trained for years under Helio Gracie, and worked as a bodyguard for visiting heads of state. Danillo himself was inspired to try his luck as a fighter after meeting Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, who Villefort now describes as "my Godfather." Though he trains with American Top Team, Villefort also runs his own jiu-jitsu school near Miami. Regarding Jesse Lennox, he had this to say: "He seems a tough like a tough opponent; he has good standup and he seems comfortable on the ground. I’ve been training a lot of jiu-jitsu because I think that’s the fastest way to finish this fight."