Thursday, December 31, 2009

UFC 108: Preview

It has been talked to death on this site and in the MMA media at large, but there is simply no denying that UFC 108: Evans vs. Silva is the most injury riddled major MMA card in the sport's young history.

It has been so bad that nearly every fight on the final card was affected. In fact, only one original main card bout (Joe Lauzon vs. Sam Stout) has not been altered by injuries over the last several weeks. The list of fighters caught in this perfect storm of UFC 108 injuries includes, but is not not limited to, Brock Lesnar, Anderson Silva, Antonio Roderigo Nogueira, Carlos Condit, Sean Sherk, Tyson Griffin, Gabriel Gonzaga, and Rory Markham. Worst of all, Steve Cantwell pulled out of UFC 108 just this week, leaving his opponent high and dry. It was so bad, in fact, that, in an ironic twist of fate, the UFC's head matchmaker Joe Silva actually blew out his own MCL today, which will require immediate surgery!

Sure, UFC 108: Evans vs. Silva has been an unprecedented scheduling disaster that is certain to devastate the UFC's New Year's box-office and PPV numbers, but the Zuffa boys have more than enough money and goodwill built up to bounce right back. Besides, the bedraggled, cobbled-together card that has finally staggered to the finish line is actually pretty decent with a surprising seven world-ranked fighters set to scrap. Plus, the UFC has come through for its fans once again with two live under card fights set to air for free on Spike TV beginning at 6:00 PST. Lightweights Cole Miller (15-4) vs. Dan Lauzon (12-2) and welterweights Maritn Kampmann (15-3) vs. Jacob Volkmann (9-1) are guaranteed to be featured.

The main event of Rashad Evans (13-1-1) vs. Thiago Silva (14-1) features two of current UFC light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida's last three opponents. Of course, mentioning that fact reminds one that each fighter was summarily smashed by the enigmatic Brazilian inside of two rounds, but both have also managed to bounce back in the media since those losses. Thiago Silva regained some career luster last August by TKOing Rashad's friend and team mate, Keith Jardine, at UFC 102. Rashad Evans, meanwhile, received so much positive press from coaching T.U.F. 10, which was the most-watched season of Spike's reality show so-far, that most casual fans have completely forgotten he's really coming off a loss. At the end of the day, the fight features two of the best LHW's in the world squaring off, which should be enough to excite any MMA fan, even if we have become accustomed to bigger blockbuster main events on the UFC's New Year's cards. You can find B.C. MMA Fan's detailed breakdown of Rashad Evans vs. Thiago Silva fight here---> UFC 108 Main Event Primer.

The co-main event may be lacking in star-power, but who doesn't love a good, old-fashioned clash of style. The fight features one of the most technical and devastating strikers in the sport, Paul "Semtex" Daley (22-8-2), against one of its best and most creative submissions specialist, Dustin Hazelett (12-4). The latter, known affectionately as "McLovin," may be much better known to UFC fans, but "Semtex" Daley is ranked higher and has certainly been in with some of the best in the world. Daley is coming off a big win over divisional contender Martin Kampmann at UFC 104 in September, while Hazelett, for his part, hasn't fought in over a year due to a combination of his own injuries and injuries sustained by his opponents. That ring rust could play a factor.

The next two fights on the main card also feature contests between relative opposites, both at lightweight. With gangly grappler Joe Lauzon (18-4) returning from injury to face a slick striker in Canadian Sam Stout (14-5-1), and Jim Miller (15-2), who has scored nine submissions (%60 of victories) meeting Duane Ludwig (19-9) who has recorded ten (T)KOs (%53 of victories).

Meanwhile, a pair of heavyweight strikers will get the PPV broadcast started as surging, young, contender Junior dos Santos (9-1) faces the controversial, but always ferocious, Muay Thai specialist Gilbert "The Hurricane" Yvel (36-13-1). Not to worry, there's an obvious contrast here too: Yvel is more than eight years older than Dos Santos and has five times as much experience.

World Ranked Fighters via SBN/ USA Today Poll:

Rashad Evans (#3 LHW), Thiago Silva (#8 LHW), Paul Daley (#10 WW), Dustin Hazelett (#16 WW), Junior Dos Santos (#5 HW), Gilbert Yvel (#22 HW), and Martin Kampmann (#12 WW).

Canadian Ranked Fighters via

Sam Stout (#2 CDN LW).

UFC 108: Evans vs. Silva

Jan. 2nd, 2009 from The MGM Grand in Las Vegas, USA

Main event:

205 lbs.: Rashad Evans vs. Thiago Silva

Main card (PPV):

170 lbs.: Paul Daley vs. Dustin Hazelett
155 lbs.: Joe Lauzon vs. Sam Stout
155 lbs.: Duane Ludwig vs. Jim Miller
265 lbs.: Junior Dos Santos vs. Gilbert Yvel

Under card (Guaranteed To Air On Spike TV):

170 lbs.: Martin Kampmann vs. Jacob Volkmann
155 lbs.: Cole Miller vs. Dan Lauzon

Under card (May not be broadcast):

185 lbs.: Mark Munoz vs. Ryan Jensen
170 lbs.: Mike Pyle vs. Jake Ellenberger
155 lbs.: Rafael Oliveira vs. John Gunderson

Watch for tomorrow's UFC 108 full-predictions post.

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