Sunday, January 3, 2010

UFC 108: Review

Before last night's fights, Dana White revealed to the surprise of many that Rashad Evans would only receive a shot at "Rampage" Jackson in the spring if Evans got by Thiago Silva first. Now that "Suga" has done that, dangerously close to getting Ko'ed though he may have been, the TUF 10 coaches' long-awaited bout is officially on tap once again.

In the end, UFC 108: Evans vs. Silva turned out the way one would expect a card featuring over half the fighters competing on short notice would. Of the ten fights, six were first round finishes and one more ended early in the second. That meant the UFC was forced to replay each of the four undercard fights that had already been broadcast on SpikeTV. Yet, even with almost an hour of the broadcast left to fill following the main event, the UFC still didn't air the first fight of the night. It must have been pretty weak for the UFC to consider dead air to be a better use of their costly PPV time.

The big winners at UFC 108 were Paul Daley who scored "Knock-Out Of The Night," Cole Miller who locked-up "Submission Of The Night," and the tandem of Joe Lauzon and Sam Stout earned the award for "Fight Of The Night." Each of those fighters earned a $50,000 USD bonus on top of their contracted salaries.

Thoughts on the fights:

  • Rashad Evans demonstrated once again that his natural talent and Greg Jackson's solid gameplanning can overcome skill and technique advantages in his unanimous decision victory over Thiago Silva. Many in the MMA media were picking Thiago, but, I suppose luckily, I have already learned the hard way that Rashad's wrestling and sheer athleticism can beat all but the most elite fighters out there at 205lbs.
  • That said, I was also right both that Rashad's only path to victory was to utilize his striking primarily to set up takedowns and that Thiago Silva wouldn't threaten with any submissions on the ground. Thiago did, however, have Rashad seriously rocked in the third round. Unfortunately for his fans, the Brazilian seemed to gas out just before he could have finished Evans off.
  • With dominant victories, welterweight Paul "Semtex" Daley and lightweight Sam Stout proved they belong near the top of their respective divisions.
  • Daley scored his second first-round (T)KO and proved getting in past his hands is no small feat. At the very least, it will take more than the monkey-roll technique that "McLovin" busted out last night. Stout, meanwhile, showed that his defensive grappling has evolved to the point that he can throw his hands with near-impunity even against top-level talent. Perhaps he will finally string some UFC wins together now, or maybe he'll finally finish a UFC fight by (T)KO.
  • On the other hand, the relevance of both those victories was clouded somewhat by the fact that both Joe Lauzon and Dustin Hazelett were coming off one-year layoffs due to injury.
  • In the first two PPV fights, heavyweight Junior Dos Santos and lightweight Jim Miller, each did what they do best scoring a first round TKO and a submission respectively. Of course, the fact that they are each solid contenders and scored wins against last-minute call-ups from outside the promotion means that last night signified little more than a payday for both fighters. Then again, there ain't nothin' wrong with that.
  • Their opponents Gilbert Yvel and Duane Ludwig fought valiantly in one-sided defeats, but a return performance is not guaranteed in either case.
  • Martin Kampmann showed Paulo Thiago how it's done by taking Volkmann out by submission in the first round. It was quite an unusual choke, too. Bruce Buffer announced it as a guillotine, but it was neither applied with a forearm across the throat nor secured with backward pressure. Really, it was more like a rear naked choke applied from a crouched North-South position. A standing, frontal-naked choke, perhaps?
  • I am officially off the Jacob Volkmann hype train, by the way. Joe Rogan seemed impressed by some shots Volkmann landed in the final stand-up exchange, but, the way I saw it, Volkmann simply waded in with his eyes nearly closed while throwing rapid-fire, open-handed, kitty-cat punches, then got lit up and dropped. Not overly impressive.
  • The suspect chin that Cole Miller showed in the Escudero fight was on display last night against Dan Lauzon as he once again hit the mat like he'd just been shot. Miller somehow survived it last night and managed to reverse position, then submit Dan minutes later, but, overall, it was not a confidence-inspiring performance.
  • Mark Munoz must have felt a bit like Jon Jones circa The TUF 10 Finale last night as referee Mario Yamasaki forced him to continue pounding away from top control for far too long.
  • Poor Ryan Jensen was caught between his obvious desire to tap and his natural inclination to protect his head. That resulted in a series of half-taps that Yamasaki either ignored or totally missed. It started out as a good performance by both fighters, but, at 1-4 in the UFC, no reasonable argument can be made for keeping Jensen in the big show any longer.
  • I went against the oddsmakers, the majority of the MMA media, and perhaps my own better judgment as well, in picking Mike Pyle to submit Jake Ellenberger last night. I suppose thought others were sleeping on Pyle's submission skills while putting a bit too much stock in Ellenberger's performance against Carlos Condit. In fairness, Pyle did come close with a kimura from the bottom in the middle of the first round. However, the fight fairly predictably belonged entirely to the younger, much stronger Ellenberger besides that moment.
  • Even with a ridiculous amount of time to fill the UFC deemed Rafaello Oliveira's one-sided, unanimous decision win over John Gunderson to be unworthy of airtime. I suppose it mustn't have been a very exciting fight, but I would have liked to see it just the same.

After going 7-3 at UFC 108: Evans vs. Silva, my prediction record now stands at 140-79 (%63.9) and 17-6 (%73.9) in main events.


Main Event

***Rashad Evans def. Thiago Silva by Unanimous Decision

Main Card

---Paul Daley def. Dustin Hazelett by TKO (Strikes), Rd. 1
---Sam Stout def. Joe Lauzon bu Unanimous Decision
***Jim Miller def. Duane Ludwig by Submission (Arm Bar), Rd. 1
***Junior Dos Santos def. Gilbert Yvel by TKO (Strikes), Rd. 1

Preliminary Card

***Martin Kampmann def. Jacob Volkmann by Submission (Guillotine), Rd. 1
***Cole Miller def. Dan Lauzon by submission (Inverted Triangle/ Kimura ), Rd. 1
***Mark Munoz def. Ryan Jensen by Submission (Strikes), Rd. 1
---Jake Ellenberger def. Mike Pyle via TKO (Strikes), Rd. 2
***Rafaello Oliveira def. John Gunderson by Unanimous Decision

*** Correct Picks --- Incorrect Picks

After going 7-3 (%70) at UFC 108: Evans vs. Silva, my record now stands at 140-79 (%63.9) overall and 17-6 (%73.9) in main events.

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