UFC 108 Preview and Predictions

UFC 108UFC 108 kicks off the 2010 season of UFC shows this Saturday night. Due to a number of reasons from abrupt retirements to a variety of injuries the UFC won’t be starting the year off with a marquee main-event. The main-event of UFC 108 features a match more suited for a Spike TV special as former UFC light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans takes on Thiago Silva.

Evans returns to action for the first-time since his lopsided loss to Lyoto Machida back in May. Evans hasn’t been quiet since the loss. Evans took a spot coaching on The Ultimate Fighter, which has turned him into one of the most popular fighters in the UFC. Up until the Machida loss, Evans was on a roll having never lost a fight in MMA. We will get a good look at the character and dedication of Evans after we see how he rebounds in his first fight after his first loss.

Thiago Silva’s MMA career is almost identical to that of his opponent Rashad Evans. Like Evans, Thiago Silva rolled through the competition in the UFC before suffering his first loss. Like Evans, Silva won thirteen MMA matches before suffering his first loss. Even more ironic, both fighters suffered their first losses against the current UFC light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida. Machida knocked out both fighters to win very one-sided contests in 2009.

This is a huge opportunity for Thiago Silva. Before the Machida loss, Silva was regarded as one of the best strikers in the UFC light heavyweight division. Silva rebounded with a tremendous one-round knockout win over Keith Jardine back in August. The problem here is that while Silva loves to standup and strike, Evans is one of the best standup fighters in the UFC. Evans has the power and the quickness to act and react to Silva’s standup game. Evans is also one of the most patient fighters in all of MMA and will sit back and frustrate opponents into pressing the fight and making mistakes. This one has the makings of a long and possibly boring fight with Silva chasing Evans for three rounds, pressing the fight in the third, and opening himself up for a knockout.

To me, this one gets very interesting if it goes to the ground. Neither man is known for their submission skills. Evans and Silva each have only two submission wins a piece in their MMA careers. Evans is an accomplished collegiate wrestler, while Silva has dangerous Jiu Jitsu skills. Neither man has been challenged on the ground in the UFC. Silva’s best bet may be to take Evans to the ground and try to submit him. At the same time, he’d be opening himself up to the same fate from a very good ground wrestler. It will be very interesting to see Silva’s strategy and Evans’ reaction in the first minutes of the fight on Saturday night.

My instincts tell me to go with Rashad Evans on Saturday night. Like Silva did against Jardine, Evans needs to leave with a decisive victory on Saturday coming off of his first loss. A win also almost assuredly guarantees the winner of the Jackson-Evans match a fight against the UFC light heavyweight champion. There have also been rumors circulating that Silva is hiding an injury suffered in training camp. Injury or not, he is going to have a hard time hitting hard on one good wheel. I look for an Evans win on Saturday night and a lot of Rampage trash talking in the post-fight promo.

Eric Gargiulo’s pick: Rashad Evans

The FC 108’s Undercard by Jay Perrone

A lot of people have been riding the wham-bulance on this card because of the number of injuries that have caused for multiple substitutions, myself included. I am not among those, however, who suggest the card be made free and put on Spike because, let’s face it, the UFC can’t control injuries and there was way too much invested in the weekend even after Silva vs. Belfort was scrapped…and Lesnar became sick…and Noguiera came down with staph infection…and five other fighters when down after that…and even Steve Cantwell was dropped from the card as of this past Tuesday, so let’s cue up Queen’s The Show Must Go On and look at some of the other non-main event match ups. My humble opinions below:

Dustin Hazelett vs Paul Daley
Yes yes, this is a case of a grappler vs. a striker. It’s a cliché to say it , you all can hate me for it, but in this case, it’s true. Hazelett is looking to extend his two-fight winning streak since getting TKO’d by Josh Koscheck. Problem here for Hazelett is he was prepping for a judo/BJJ fighter in Karo Parisyan for UFC 106 until Parisyan went all “I don’t have a fighting license” on us…so Dustin has not fought in 14 months. Daley, on the other hand, has finished off his last three via KO/TKO and is NOT a bjj/judo kind of guy. As much as I’d love to see another reverse armbar out of Hazelett, Daley will be tougher to take down than Tamdan McCrory and if this stays standing, despite Hazelett claiming he’s improving his muay thai, I give it to Daley.

Jay pick: Daley via TKO, round 2

Joe Lauzon vs. Sam Stout
I am going to pull some motivation and hype out of my ass for these two (please bare with me). Stout did record “Fight of the Night” honors from UFC 97 this past April, but he is 3-7 in the UFC and has not finished anyone since 2007. The FOTN honors will help, but he needs to win this fight, given the UFC’s predilection for quick pink slips. Lauzon, on the other hand, has finished off his last two since his loss to KenFlo (another FOTN winner) back in April ’08. With MMA being sanctioned in Massachusetts, Lauzon’s home state, he’s going to want to make a case for being on a card in his own backyard with a win. He’s coming off knee surgery, which Stout will factor into his game plan, but I think Lauzon will be able to take this the ground for the submission.

Jay pick: Lauzon via submission, round 3

Jim Miller vs. Duane Ludwig

This fight marks Ludwig’s return to the UFC after stints with several other promotions. He also holds the unofficial fastest KO in UFC history from his January ’06 FIVE SECOND KO of Jonathan Goulet (although the time keeper’s clock kept going so Todd Duffee’s 7 second KO earlier this year is the official record). He’s a strong muay thai striker obviously looking to plant some stronger roots in the UFC this time around, but I think Miller’s ground game will nullify it. Even though it was a loss, he took Gray Maynard, a soon-to-be #1 contender to BJ Penn, the distance and since is riding a two fight winning streak.

Jay pick: Miller by decision

Junior dos Santos vs. Gilbert Yvel
Is anyone else perplexed to see Yvel in this fight? The guy is a heck of a striker, but he’s more famous for knocking out refs than anything (Ed note: Dana must be secretly PRAYING Steve Mazzagatti handles officiating duties for this one). I feel like Yvel’s signing is almost like Houston Alexander’s for Kimbo Slice. The promotion sees a lot of potential in dos Santos: he’s great young striker with a 10-1 record, coming off a win (despite it’s awkward ending) against Cro Cop, and trains out of Black House in Brazil with these two guys named Anderson Silva & Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. They want him to succeed and, if he continues, will be a title contender in 2011. Yvel hits hard, but I give the striking edge to dos Santos, whether it be on his feet or on the ground.

Jay pick: dos Santos via TKO, Round 1

The complete UFC 108 card as scheduled is…
Rashad Evans vs. Thiago Silva
Dustin Hazelett vs. Paul Daley
Joe Lauzon vs. Sam Stout
Jim Miller vs. Duane Ludwig
Junior dos Santos vs. Gilbert Yvel
Martin Kampmann vs. Jacob Volkmann
Cole Miller vs. Dan Lauzon
Vladimir Matyushenko vs. Steve Cantwell
Mark Munoz vs. Ryan Jensen
Mike Pyle vs. Jake Ellenberger
Rafaello Oliveira vs. John Gunderson

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Eric G.

Eric is the owner and editor-in-chief of the Camel Clutch Blog. Eric has worked in the pro wrestling industry since 1995 as a ring announcer in ECW and a commentator/host on television, PPV, and home video. Eric also hosted Pro Wrestling Radio on terrestrial radio from 1998-2009. Check out some of Eric's work on his IMDB bio and Wikipedia. Eric has an MBA from Temple University's Fox School of Business.

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