UFC 108 was originally set to be a stellar card to take fight fans out of the old year of 2009 and into the new one in dynamic fashion. Rumored bouts for the card included a middleweight championship between Anderson Silva and Vitor Belfort, along with a heavyweight title fight between Brock Lesnar and Shane Carwin to carry us into 2010.
However, injuries and illness have eroded the card down to a main event between heavy-hitters Rashad Evans and Thiago Silva. Also featured on the main card is a heavyweight slugfest between Junior Dos Santos and Gilbert Yvel, along with hard hitting British fighter Paul Daley looking to knock submission ace Dustin Hazellet out cold.
The card may fall well short of the original plan for the card to kick of 2010, but the UFC will march on with a main event between an “Ultimate Fighter” sensation and a Brazilian slugger. Let’s take a look at the entire main card set for Jan. 2 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Rashad Evans vs. Thiago Silva
Evans vs. Silva is a fight between two fighters who have felt the sting of defeat but one time. Funny enough, the only man that could put either of these two light heavyweight warriors away was current champion Lyoto Machida, who knocked Silva out while he was on his path to the title and knocked Evans out to take the 205-pound belt for himself.
This 205-pound battle could be over very quickly, as each fighter has a tendency to put their opponents’ lights out. While Evans has not finished a fight in the first round since 2004, Silva is fresh off of a victory of Evans’ teammate and friend Keith Jardine – a victory Silva needed only 95 seconds to achieve.
With Silva’s constant pressure and devastating striking, the fight should begin with a nice exchange. However, the two will likely spend most of the first round feeling each other out and avoiding an unfortunate mistake.
While the first round may last five minutes, the second round should hardly come close to lasting that long. Evans boasts quickness and power, as he displayed against Chuck Liddell with a highlight reel knockout, but unless he remembers his wrestling background, “Sugar” is not going to feel very sweet standing with Silva. Even if he decides to wrestle, Silva’s black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu will likely be enough to even it up on the ground.
The fight should feature some exhilarating exchanges on the feet, as neither Silva nor Evans look to hit the ground. Silva’s heavy strikes and constant pressure will be enough to put Evans against the cage early and often. When the former Michigan St. Spartan tries to stand and bang with Brazilian slugger, he will find himself in the same position as his teammate “The Dean of Mean” did; On the losing end of a technical knockout.
Prediction: Silva via Technical Knockout
Paul Daley vs. Dustin Hazelett
If you were wondering what a man must do to garner the nickname of “Semtex”, just watch Paul Daley’s last fight. Daley absolutely obliterated welterweight contender Martin Kampmann on his way to a first round technical knockout. However, while Daley’s stand up is nothing short of explosive, his ground game has several giant holes which have been taken advantage of in the past.
That is where Dustin Hazelett will look to capitalize. “McLovin” has made a name for himself in the UFC through his slick submissions. Nine out of his 12 professional victories have ended by way of submission, including stellar submissions against Tamdan McCrory and Josh Burkman in the UFC.
Hazelett’s submissions may be impressive, but Daley’s advantage in the stand up is almost unfair. If Daley can avoid the takedown, this fight can only go one way. Look for “Semtex” to remind everyone exactly why he has that nickname when he throws some bombs Hazelett’s way. If Hazelett can survive the first round, that will say something about the way the fight is going.
However, the fight starts on the feet, and if Hazelett is unable to change that, he has little chance at victory. When “McLovin” fails to secure a takedown early, Daley should be able to put him away in a similar manner in which he demolished Martin Kampmann at UFC 103.
Prediction: Paul Daley via Knockout
Joe Lauzon vs. Sam Stout
Lauzon first made waves in the UFC when he knocked out Jens Pulver at UFC with the odds stacked heavily against him. Now, the Massachusetts native is on the flipside of the odds, entering his fight against Stout quite heavily favored, and for good reason.
Stout has a 3-4 record in the UFC and is coming off a decision victory over Matt Wiman, which ended a two fight losing streak. “Hands of Stone” has never finished or been finished in his career with the UFC. However, Lauzon will look to change that.
“J-Lau” displayed decent stand up against Jeremy Stephens and Kyle Bradley at Ultimate Fight Night 17 and Ultimate Fight Night 15, respectively. However, his ground game is exactly where he is the most dangerous. With a solid background in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Lauzon can lock on some very slick submissions, like the armbar that forced Stephens to tap back in Feb. of this year.
Lauzon is a much more well-rounded mixed martial artist than Stout, holding advantage in nearly every aspect of fighting. However, Lauzon’s last fight was over ten months, as knee surgery caused “J-Lau” to hit the sidelines.
Stout has been unimpressive thus far in his UFC career and don’t look for it to change on Jan. 2. While he may have been out for some time, ring rust should not be an issue will Lauzon, who will be able to out-strike, out-grapple, and simply outclass his opponent en route to a submission victory sometime in the latter half of the three round lightweight bout.
Predicition: Joe Lauzon via submission
Junior dos Santos vs. Gilbert Yvel
Dos Santos has looked so good in his three-fight UFC career, it is a wonder why he is getting so much less hype than fellow UFC heavyweight prospect Cain Velasquez. Not only has Dos Santos fought equal if not tougher competition than Velasquez, he has finished all of them. In fact, Mirko Filipovic is the only man to push “Cigano” out of the first round (Cro Cop submitted to strikes at 2:00 of the third).
Standing opposite dos Santos at UFC 108 will be PRIDE veteran Gilbert Yvel. Yvel has spent his career as a human wrecking ball, finishing 31 of his 36 victories via knockout. “The Hurricane’s” other five victories have come by way of submission.
The UFC is pushing this fight as a slugfest, and they are absolutely correct in hyping it that way. If the fight exits the first round, dos Santos will be able to display similar cardio that he had in his fight with Filipovic. However, this fight has first round stoppage written all over it, as both “Cigano” and Yvel will stand and bang it out early. Dos Santos should be able to utilize his crisp, yet powerful stand up to put away Yvel in the first round of a bout that will not need the judges’ scorecards.
Prediction: Dos Santos via Technical Knockout
Jim Miller vs. Duane Ludwig
In possibly the most lopsided match up of the night, Jim Miller will welcome Duane Ludwig back to the UFC in a lightweight bout. Miller’s career has only two blemishes (decision losses to Frank Edgar and Gray Maynard), while Ludwig has nine career losses and 19 wins.
Miller should really have no problem outclassing Ludwig in basically every aspect of the fight. Besides the Maynard loss, Miller has been putting out top-notch performances in a division that needs contenders.
However, Ludwig does have a puncher’s chance in this one. He has power and there is always the possibility that he could catch Miller. Also, he has fought some of the biggest names in the sport, including Takanori Gomi and BJ Penn. However, on Jan. 2 Ludwig will likely watch the nine in his loss column fade into a 10, as a unanimous decision victory for Miller is likely in the cards for the evening.
In Ludwig’s defense, he is a last minute replacement for Sean Sherk, who was just one of the many to withdraw from the Jan. 2 date due to injury. The man may not be the ideal replacement, but it certainly won’t hurt his standing with the UFC executives, as he comes in to save another fight from being scratched from the cursed card.
Prediction: Jim Miller via Unanimous Decision