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UFC 108: Evans vs. Silva review
by Scott Newman (MMA)
Posted on April 30, 2010, 2:39 PM

UFC 108: Evans vs. Silva

Las Vegas, Nevada

-The UFC had put together injury-hit cards before Ė UFC 50, UFC 85, UFC 106 Ė but none deserved the Ďcursedí label as much as UFC 108. Letís start with the main events. Initially the main was supposed to be Novemberís cancelled Lesnar-Carwin Heavyweight Title fight, but Brock was still out with diverticulitis, so that was out. Next they tried to book Anderson Silva vs. Vitor Belfort, but Andersonís elbow was still bothering him, so with no possible title fights they decided to book a double main event of Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira vs. Cain Velasquez, and Rashad Evans vs. Thiago Silva. Then Nog had to withdraw with a bad staph infection, leaving us with a much weaker Rashad-Silva main. But hey, the undercard was still solid, what with Carlos Condit vs. Paul Daley, Jim Miller vs. Tyson Griffin, and Junior Dos Santos vs. Gabriel Gonzaga, right? Well, no.

Condit ended up slicing his hand open and getting the cut infected, so Dustin Hazelett replaced him (good replacement it must be added). Griffin pulled out with injury and so they bumped up Sean Sherk from his undercard match with Rafaello Oliveira, but then HE got hurt too and so Joe Silva scrambled around and brought in Duane ĎBangí Ludwig at the last minute. Gonzaga caught staph too and withdrew, so infamous ex-PRIDE and Affliction star Gilbert Yvel was brought in (and he was a guy I NEVER thought Iíd see in the UFC!). Even the prelims werenít safe, as Rory Markham was forced out of his fight with Martin Kampmann and Jacob Volkmann had to step in. And finally, Steve Cantwell was refused a license by the NSAC and his fight with Vladimir Matyushenko was scrapped altogether. Hilariously, Zuffa still got Vladdy to cut weight and prepare...in case anyone else got hurt. And the big rumor was that Thiago Silva was carrying a bad back injury and was being paid extra by Zuffa not to pull out. So, letís add it up. If you include Lesnar and Silva, thatís NINE fighters out with injury, which is unprecedented really. Cursed card? You bet.

-Your hosts are Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan.

Lightweight Fight: Rafaello Oliveira vs John Gunderson

Brazilian grappler Oliveira was looking to bounce back from a disappointing debut loss to Nik Lentz at UFC 103, although if weíre fair, he was actually lucky in a way to get into the UFC in the first place as he came via Affliction. As I mentioned earlier, he was initially pegged to fight Sean Sherk but when Sherk was bumped, John Gunderson Ė a natural 145lber Ė stepped in and gave Oliveira a much better chance of picking up his first UFC victory.

Good leg kick from Oliveira to open the first round. They circle and exchange some feeler shots before Oliveira lands another hard leg kick. Jab from Oliveira and then he shoots on a double leg. Gunderson grabs a guillotine as he goes down, and locks up the guard, but Oliveira manages to work his head free and immediately passes the guard. Kimura attempt from Gunderson but Oliveira almost hits the Matt Hughes spinning armbar, then pops into side mount. Full mount from Oliveira and then he takes the back and lands some punches. Gunderson looks in deep trouble and takes some more shots as Oliveira flattens him out. It looks like Oliveiraís got an arm triangle locked in, but he canít quite turn fully into it with the cage in the way and he has to switch to take the back instead. This guy is very good on the ground. He goes to side mount for a second and then steps right back to full mount and gets the back again, but this time a hip escape puts Gunderson in half-guard. Only for a second though as Oliveira mounts and takes the back again. This time he loses a hook though and Gunderson controls his left arm before popping to his feet. Quick double leg puts him back down though and Oliveiraís in side mount. Gunderson manages to wall-walk back up into the clinch, and this time Oliveira jumps to guard to end the round. 10-9 Oliveira, total shutout round.

2nd round and Gunderson comes out looking to strike, but he takes another leg kick before he lands with a couple of glancing punches. Easy takedown puts Gunderson on his back again, and he goes for the kimura, but Oliveiraís already moved into half-guard. Good job from Gunderson to sweep using the kimura and escape to his feet, but Oliveira quickly hits a double leg and puts him back down. Gunderson fights up to his feet once more, but Oliveira drags him back down into half-guard. Gundersonís pinned right into the fence now too. Full mount again for Oliveira and heís got the back again with one hook. Gunderson manages to scramble, but gives up the hooks and it looks like Oliveira might have the choke sunk in. Good job from Gunderson to avoid, but he can only turn into full mount. Nice punches from Oliveira land cleanly and force Gunderson to roll again, and the Brazilian begins to work for the rear naked choke. This is totally one-sided. Oliveira looks to slide off to the side for an armbar, but he ends up at an odd angle and Gunderson manages to cling onto the shorts to avoid it. Seconds to go and Gunderson manages to pull out, leaving Oliveira in the butt-scoot position on the buzzer. 10-9 Oliveira again and Gunderson needs a finish now.

Third and final round and Gunderson pushes forward and lunges in with a left hook. Oliveira counters with a double leg attempt, and avoids a possible guillotine to force Gunderson into the clinch. Scramble puts Gunderson on top, but Oliveira takes his back in the scramble and ends up in dominant position again. The gap in the ground games here is just massive. One hook in for Oliveira and then he slips the other one in and looks to flatten him out. Heís working for the choke, but again Gunderson defends well. Scramble manages to get Gunderson free for a second, but Oliveira quickly grabs a rear waistlock again as they stand. Gunderson tries to throw some reverse elbows, but Oliveira turns into him and drops for a single leg. Guillotine attempt from Gunderson but Oliveira easily slips free to take top position in the guard. Gunderson looks to lock up the kimura again, but Oliveira easily avoids it and works around to take the rear waistlock. He gets one hook in but Gunderson rolls free and spins into half-guard. Gunderson goes for an arm triangle from the bottom now, but heís got no chance with that and Oliveira works free and mounts again. Punches force Gunderson to give his back, and Oliveira works for the choke but still canít finish the guy off. Gunderson tries to turn into the guard to escape, but Oliveira takes full mount and looks to set up an armbar. It looks sunk as he sits back, but Gunderson somehow hangs on and the buzzer sounds before Oliveira can finish it off. Gutsy stuff from Gunderson but he got owned there.

Judges score it 30-27 all around for Rafaello Oliveira. Totally dominant showing from the Brazilian, who pretty much did everything except finish the fight. Gunderson showed a ton of heart and some good escapes, but the gap in the ground games was huge and Oliveira was rarely out of a dominant position. Not a bad fight though despite the one-sidedness.

Welterweight Fight: Jake Ellenberger vs Mike Pyle

I was quite excited for this one actually, as Ellenberger had looked really good against Carlos Condit in September and actually came a hair away from stopping the former WEC champ before losing a close decision. Pyle meanwhile had tapped out Chris Wilson on the same show, finally showing the skills that had gained him a really good reputation outside of the UFC. Despite Pyleís highly-regarded skills though, my pick here was Ellenberger via his ridiculous punching power.

Round One begins and Ellenberger comes out swinging for the fences, backing Pyle up before getting a takedown to guard. Half-guard now and Pyle works to get butterfly hooks back in to go for a sweep. Pyle gets full guard back and traps the right arm, preventing Ellenberger from doing much from the top. Couple of short elbows get through for Jake, but nothing too major. Pyle squirms from the bottom and looks for a triangle, but Ellenberger postures free and remains in the guard. Really good job defensively from Mike Pyle thus far. Couple of short elbows get through from Ellenberger, and then he decides to stand free out of the guard, avoiding a couple of upkicks in the process. Referee Yves Lavigne brings Pyle back to his feet, and Ellenberger swings some punches before catching a knee attempt and getting a takedown to guard again. Pyle looks like heís going for a kimura and he gets it pretty deep, but Ellenberger uses brute strength to defend and pops his arm free. Seconds to go in the round and Ellenberger finally succeeds with some ground and pound, landing a flurry that causes Pyle to turn his back on the buzzer. Looks like the shots mightíve hurt his ribs actually. Even round for the most part.

Round Two and Pyle looks for a takedown, but Ellenberger shrugs it off, lands a knee to the gut and then NAILS Pyle with a VICIOUS RIGHT HAND! Pyle goes down like a ton of bricks and Ellenberger swarms all over him to finish things off.

Man, Ellenberger has some seriously heavy hands. Like bricks or something. Pyle seemed alright in the first round but once Jake landed, it was all over. If he can come up with some better gameplanning (why take Pyle down when youíve got the better strikes and a wrestling advantage?) and slow down a little to not run out of gas, this guy could develop into a very serious contender. Fun little fight with a wicked finish.

Middleweight Fight: Mark Munoz vs Ryan Jensen

Alright, so nothing against the guy, but has there ever been a luckier guy to have a UFC contract than Ryan Jensen? At this point he was 1-3 in the UFC with the lone win being a bullshit stoppage against Steve Steinbeiss, and yet he was given another fight. I guess he was coming off the Steinbeiss win, but still! Munoz on the other hand is a guy I think has real potential, and heíd showed glimpses of that in his August win over Nick Catone. I was expecting more of the same here and figured heíd run straight through Jensen.

First round begins and they circle and throw out some strikes before Munoz gets a single leg off a knee attempt and takes him down. Jensen grabs the head for a guillotine, but it doesnít look close and heís already in side mount. Jensen scrambles and looks for his own takedown, but Munoz spins around with an over/under before Jensen escapes to his feet. Flurry from Jensen backs Munoz up, but then he goes for a takedown and Munoz easily stuffs it. Big takedown to guard from Munoz and he avoids a triangle and OPENS UP with some wild hammer fists. Into half-guard and Munoz just UNLOADS WITH BOMBS, causing Jensen to turn his back and flatten out. Munoz keeps pounding away, absolutely smashing the guy, and it looks like Jensenís tapping but referee Mario Yamasaki chooses to ignore it. Come on. More massive shots from Munoz and finally Yamasaki steps in.

One-sided beatdown with an absolutely criminal refereeing job. I mean lord, if a guy is struggling to tap out you know heís done. Why Yamasaki let Jensen take so much unneeded punishment I donít know. On the good side though this was a hell of a showing from Munoz who seems to have finally become comfortable at 185lbs, and damn is his ground-and-pound scary. Some of the nastiest in the division in fact, and with his wrestling background, if he continues to round himself out heís going to become difficult to stop in the future. Absolutely brutal stuff.

Lightweight Fight: Cole Miller vs Dan Lauzon

Pretty interesting fight here between two solid young up-and-comers, with Miller looking to bounce back from a September loss to Efrain Escudero and Lauzon making his comeback to the UFC following just over three years away and eight more wins on his record. He looks so much different than he did in his October 2006 debut too, but then he would I guess as he was only eighteen there. I think heís still the youngest fighter in UFC history in fact.

Fight gets underway and they circle, exchanging some punches into the clinch. Miller clips him with a left hook on the way out and flurries as Lauzon backs up. Pair of high kicks miss for Miller and then he considers jumping to guard before shrugging off a takedown and choosing to stand. Miller steps in, but a BIG LEFT HOOK drops him hard and Lauzon pounces, but Miller scrambles and ends up coming back to his feet in the clinch. Big knee from Lauzon and he follows with a right hand, but Miller, still on wobbly legs, answers with a big knee of his own. Nice combo from Miller and he looks recovered now although Lauzon lands an uppercut inside. Miller gets a plum clinch and works with some knees and dirty boxing, and then Lauzon breaks off. Lauzon catches a kick and really swings for the fences, but Cole avoids the brunt of it and gets out. This is a pretty wild fight. Takedown from Lauzon, getting an over/under on the back, and he hops on with both hooks in. Cole looks to turn into him and manages it, and then goes for a kimura, before locking up an inverted triangle! Cole continues to work for the kimura, but the triangle ends up synched in tightly and Lauzon actually taps out! Wow, the first inverted triangle in the UFC.

Great fight overall, all-action from start to finish. Miller looked in big trouble when he was dropped, but he recovered very well and the submission was pretty awesome Ė Iíve seen Cole go for that move before, against Jeremy Stephens, but here he pulled it off beautifully and earned himself a fat Submission of the Night bonus. Credit to both men here. Post-fight Miller admits he canít even remember getting dropped, which is scary in a number of ways.

Welterweight Fight: Martin Kampmann vs Jacob Volkmann

Another fight between guys looking to bounce back from losses, this was a pretty pivotal one for Kampmann especially as a possible title shot was snatched away from his grasp when Paul Daley beat the hell out of him at UFC 103. Grappler Volkmann was a far better opponent for him though, as his striking had looked pretty rudimentary against Paulo Thiago and Kampmannís actually a better grappler than he is a striker in my opinion and so I didnít think Volkmann could beat him there either.

Opening round and Volkmann presses forward early but canít land with anything and he eats a couple of counters from the Dane. Into the clinch and Volkmann looks to tie him up, but Kampmann breaks off. Wild punches land for Volkmann, but he gets too reckless coming forward and Kampmann hits a right hand counter that drops him face-first! Volkmann tries to clinch, but Kampmann breaks off again and stays on the move. Volkmann continues to charge in with flurries, but Kampmann looks very calm and ready to counter. He breaks off another clinch but it looks like heís cut over the left eye. Volkmann comes forward with some punches and this time he lands clean, tagging Kampmann, but as the Dane backs off again he throws a right hand counter that folds Volkmann up. Volkmann snaps back and manages to get full guard, but Kampmann stands free and avoids some upkicks, then drops a big right hand into half-guard. Kampmann stands again and then lands with some big ground-and-pound as he drops down, and as Volkmann sits up, he leaves his head free and Kampmann grabs Miguel Torresís power guillotine and squeezes for the tapout.

Fight went pretty much exactly how Iíd expected, as Kampmann was way too technical for Volkmann on the feet and even though Volkmann was able to land some decent shots, he left himself wide open and was hurt badly with counters. Submission was pretty awesome though as Volkmann left himself open for just a split second and Kampmann capitalized. Plus I love the power guillotine. Another short, exciting fight on this card!

Heavyweight Fight: Junior Dos Santos vs Gilbert Yvel

As I mentioned earlier, Yvel was a guy I *never* expected to arrive in the UFC, particularly after the whole incident with him knocking out a referee a few years back. I guess he hadnít caused any controversy since though and if he was able to get licensed by the NSAC then itís a fair cop. I didnít think this was a very good match for him though, and to me it smacked of Joe Silva (smartly, it must be added) wanting to show Dos Santos as a ďwell-roundedĒ fighter, as the smart gameplan for ĎCiganoí seemed to be to take Yvel down and look for a submission, which has always been the Dutchmanís weak point. I freely admit though, despite never being a huge fan of his, I ended up rooting for Yvel here simply because I got on a bit of a PRIDE nostalgia kick before the show!

First round begins and both men press, swinging heavy leather early albeit not landing. Spinning back kick misses for Yvel. Big right hook from Dos Santos and both men start SWINGING FOR THE FENCES, wow. Looked like both men landed but didnít manage to rock the other. Another exchange follows with both men landing. This blatantly isnít getting out of the first round. High kick from Yvel is blocked. And sure enough, we get another trade and Dos Santos decks him with a VICIOUS LEFT HOOK!~! Yvel looks done and Dos Santos pounces to stop him.

Good lord. The torque Dos Santos got in that left hook was insane Ė he literally turned his whole body into it. This guy has become a real killer at heavyweight and I canít wait to see him against the likes of Velasquez and Lesnar in the future. Unlucky for Yvel as the way these dudes were swinging, it was pretty obvious one of them was going down early and well, Dos Santos landed first. Pretty crazy brawl to open the PPV show.

Lightweight Fight: Jim Miller vs Bang Ludwig

With all the injuries on this card, I think Jim Miller probably got the shortest end of the stick as he went from preparing for a wrestler-boxer in Tyson Griffin, to another wrestler-boxer in Sean Sherk, to suddenly having to prepare for a lanky Muay Thai expert in Bang. Luckily for Miller I guess, heís a great wrestler himself and Bangís takedown defense has always been his weak point. Throw in the fact that Ludwig was forced to cut a ton of weight quickly to make 155lbs and this seemed like a gimme for Miller Ė if he could avoid a flash knockout like the one Bang caught Jonathan Goulet with back in 2006.

We begin and they throw out some jabs before Miller lands with a low kick and dodges a counter left. Miller continues to push forward as Ludwig looks to punch, and he actually lands the first clean combo and follows with a good low kick. Head kick from Bang is blocked as Millerís striking is looking much improved here. Miller continues to push the action, and as Bang steps in with a combo Miller counters and puts him down with a short right hand! Did not expect that. Miller drops down right into side mount. Full mount now for Miller and he sets up a nice armbar as Bang bucks his hips, and rolls into it, extending it for the tapout.

Well, I expected Miller to win that fight but I definitely didnít expect to see him drop Ludwig standing, and really he was outlanding Bang in the striking portions from the beginning if weíre honest. On the ground heís light years ahead of Bang and the finish didnít surprise me at all, but to drop Bang like he did is very impressive and just shows how much Jimís improved his game since arriving in the UFC. Probably on the cusp of the top ten these days in fact.

Lightweight Fight: Sam Stout vs Joe Lauzon

This was like, the lone fight on the card not hit with injury, as Lauzon was coming back from a long layoff with a bad knee while Stout is a guy who never seems to get hurt anyway. Interesting side note Ė I think this card would be the first time that two brothers have fought on the same UFC show, with Dan Lauzon on the undercard. Anyway, this fight seemed like a styles clash with Lauzon wanting to go to the ground and Stout wanting to strike, and I ended up picking Lauzon as to me heís always looked like a slightly better fighter than the Canadian.

Round One begins and Lauzon throws a combo into a clinch and trips Stout down into guard. Well, he didnít waste any time there. Into half-guard and Lauzon feeds Stout a forearm, opening a small cut, but Stout pushes off the hips and looks to get to his feet. Lauzon rolls for a kimura, and in an insane move, actually tries to lock up the same kimura/inverted triangle combination that his brother was submitted with earlier on the show! Stout manages to roll through though, and stands back up. Combo from Stout lands but Lauzon fires back with a right hand. Left hook into a quick shot from Lauzon, but Stout defends it well for a moment before J-Lau turns the corner and gets him down. Stout looks to wall-walk back to his feet, and does so, landing a sharp knee to the midsection as they come up. Takedown attempt from Lauzon again and this time he pulls guard, but Stout lands with a nice elbow. Lauzon stays active from the bottom, but Stout decides to stand back up. Wild combo misses for Lauzon and Stout hits him with a hard left hand and then follows with an uppercut to avoid a takedown. Pair of good body shots land for the Canadian. Stout is beginning to take over now with crisp counters as Lauzon comes forward aggressively. Nice low kick almost buckles Lauzonís leg. Awesome body punch from Stout, left hook to the liver. Bas Rutten probably marked out there. Spinning backfist ends the round for Stout. Really close round to score, early it was Lauzon and late it was Stout.

2nd round and Stout defends an early takedown by simply throwing Lauzon off. Stout is landing combinations now, going to the body with the left hook over and over. Awesome leg kick almost takes Lauzon off his feet. Head kick glances off Lauzonís dome and Stout follows with a right uppercut that rocks him, forcing him to dive for a takedown. Stout tries to hit a switch, but winds up on his back in a butterfly guard. Lauzon showed a lot of smarts there. Stout gets his back to the fence and looks to wall-walk up again, but Lauzon grips on and itís a real struggle now. Up to his feet and Stout breaks away. Nice left hook to the liver and right leg kick from the Canadian, who might be Basís new favourite fighter. Body kick is caught though and Lauzon grabs a waistlock. Stout manages to fight it off and breaks free, and he continues to nail Lauzon with combinations as Lauzon pushes forward aggressively. This is the best Iíve ever seen Stout fight and suddenly I understand why he was always pushed as such a great striker. Lauzon shoots in again, but Stout sprawls out and forces him to pull half-guard. Stout decides to stand free, and he continues to eat Lauzon up with the combos. Lauzon pulls guard again with seconds left in the round, but it looks like heís in survival mode now and the round ends with some Stout ground-and-pound. First round was even, second round was all Sam Stout.

Round Three and Lauzon comes forward looking for a wild trade, and then he shoots in again, but Stout avoids it and clocks him with a combo on the way out. Hard body kick lands for Lauzon but he still canít get Stout down and the Canadian lands another heavy combo. Big body kick lands for Stout, right to the liver again. Lauzonís body is badly marked up. Lauzon literally dives for a single leg, but Stout avoids it again and now Lauzonís looking exhausted. To his credit he continues to push forward, but heís being outclassed on the feet. Stoutís landing some amazing combos now, putting together jabs, crosses, body shots, low kicks, all sorts. Body kick is finally caught and Lauzon gets him down in guard, landing some elbows, but Stout looks to tie him up. Joe passes to half-guard and then takes mount, locking up a guillotine, but he canít quite finish it off and Stout escapes to his feet! That was probably Lauzonís one chance. Now he takes a crazy risk and dives for a heel hook ala Ryo Chonan, but Stout avoids that too and goes back to throwing combos. Flying knee and spinning backfist miss for Stout, but he ends the round with another big flurry. Great fight.

Judges score it 30-26, 30-27 and 30-27 for Sam Stout. This was by far the greatest performance of Stoutís UFC career as while weíd seen flashes of his potential against Spencer Fisher and Per Eklund, he finally lived up to what weíd been told about him here by weathering an early storm from Lauzon to take over later in the fight with some of the best combinations Iíve ever seen in the Octagon. Lauzon showed a lot of heart to keep going and never gave up for a second, which made it a really engaging fight to watch, but he was outclassed on the feet and really took a beating in the end. Still, easily the fight of the night thus far with the others being quick stoppages for the most part.

Welterweight Fight: Paul Daley vs Dustin Hazelett

Firstly I have to say, Carlos Condit is one of my favourite fighters and his dropping off the card was easily the injury that upset me the most, as I wouldíve picked him to beat Paul Daley here which wouldíve put him about one win away from a title shot. To be fair though the UFC came up with a tremendous replacement in Hazelett, who had been waiting for a fight like this since November when his fight with Karo Parisyan was cancelled due to Karoís painkiller issue. This was of course the biggest styles clash on the card, as Daleyís about as close to a pure striker as youíll find in MMA these days, likewise for Hazelett and his grappling. Gist of things was that if Daley could keep the fight standing he would win, and if McLovin could get it to the ground then heíd win. On an added note though, Daley only made 172lbs at the weigh-in and had to forfeit part of his purse to Hazelett. Always sucks when a guy misses weight like that.

Opening round begins and Hazelett tries the Harold Howard rolling kick! WTF? Daley looks unfazed and begins to circle around as the crowd start the ďUSA!Ē chants. Left jab from Daley. High kick from McLovin is blocked. Leg kick lands for Daley. No takedown attempts from Dustin yet which is surprising. Another hard leg kick lands for Semtex. Hazelett gets out of the way of a couple of big punches though. Head kick glances off Daleyís shoulder and McLovin follows with a front kick to the chest. Another front kick lands for Dustin. Right hook from Hazelett but Daley counters with a CRUSHING LEFT HOOK to drop McLovin, and a couple of shots on the ground stiffen him up.

Semtex carries some serious power in his shots and outside of Thiago Alves who could probably give him a run for his money, at 170lbs I donít think thereís a guy in the world that can stand with him. Hazelett just made the tremendous error of not shooting for takedowns and decided to stand, and well, it was only a matter of time. Brutal knockout from the Brit. Post-fight Daley apologises for his celebration (he mimed firing a shotgun at Hazelett) and shows Hazelett some respect, but says all fights start standing and so the result didnít surprise him. In a division so dominated by grapplers recently (GSP, Koscheck, Fitch) itís nice to see a striker like Daley around as heís a breath of fresh air.

Light-Heavyweight Fight: Rashad Evans vs Thiago Silva

Putting aside the fact that any opponent for Rashad Evans not named Rampage was sort of disappointing, this was a pretty solid fight on paper. I mean sure, the whole ďgrudgeĒ that Zuffa tried to push (Silva KOd Rashadís friend Keith Jardine!) was a bit false, but hey, theyíre two top ten 205lbers so how can you complain about them fighting? Advantage in my opinion seemed to go firmly to Rashad, as not only was he by far the best wrestler that Silva had ever faced, but in my opinion Silvaís plodding striking style is a bit overrated (he has power, sure, but he lacks explosiveness and his best offense comes from his ground-and-pound) while Rashad is super-quick and has thunderous power too. I was expecting Rashad to use his wrestling to take Silva out of his gameplan, en route to knocking him out standing in the second round or thereabouts.

We get underway and Rashad comes out bobbing and weaving before throwing a one-two into a clinch. Thiago looks for the plum clinch, but Rashad drops for a takedown and gets the Brazilian on his back. Silva immediately wall-walks to his feet using the cage, but Rashad gets a bodylock and hits a big slam down into side mount. Thiago squirms, taking a couple of punches, and then Rashad surprisingly takes full mount! Scramble from Silva allows him to escape and get to his feet though, where he lands a knee. Theyíre still clinched against the fence and they muscle for position and exchange some punches inside. Rashad breaks off and comes forward with a really quick combo, using some head movement to avoid Thiagoís strikes, and as Silva throws a knee Rashad tackles him to the ground and gets into side mount right away. Thiago manages to roll and escapes to his feet again, but heís being worn down by Evans here. They break off and Rashad continues to bob and weave as he comes forward, hitting Silva with quicker punches. Nice right hand into a clinch for Evans and then he breaks with a hard uppercut. Beautiful combo from Rashad ending with a body punch and he follows with another takedown. Silva manages to escape to his feet, but heís clearly breathing heavily as they break off to end the round. Totally dominant round for Rashad Evans, 10-9.

On an added note, UFC has Jorge Gurgel doing voiceover translation for the Brazilians talking in Thiagoís corner between rounds, which is really cool. Wish that was enough for them to bring him back in as a fighter!

2nd round and Thiago looks to circle to the right, but Rashad comes in with a right hand and forces him back into the fence again. They exchange some short strikes inside before Thiago breaks, but Rashad quickly shoots back in and gets another takedown to half-guard. Silva tries for a sweep, and then manages to roll and escape to his feet, but Evans charges in with another combo and then slams Silva back down against the cage. Rashad looks to work to mount, but Silva slips out the back door and heís back to his feet again. Silva looks tentative now, clearly worried about the takedown, and sure enough Rashad throws a right hand into a takedown attempt and drives him back into the fence again. Silva manages to defend this time and ends up in a clinch, then breaks with a right hand. Silva comes forward now throwing some heavier strikes, but a right hand into a massive takedown follows from Rashad. Iíd forgotten how quick Rashadís shot was. Silva has butterfly guard and he works to his feet again, and the round ends in the clinch. So far this has been a shutout for Rashad, another 10-9 for him.

Final round and Rashad opens with a combo into a takedown attempt. Silva manages to stuff it this time, but Rashad forces him back into the fence again before the Brazilian breaks off. Beautiful takedown from Rashad as he ducks under a right hand, but Silva quickly pops back up. To be fair, Thiago is really good at getting up from underneath Evans. Silva begins to stalk forward a little more now, but he looks tired to me and I donít think he has the speed to catch Rashad. Silva tries to bait him into a slugfest by taunting him and waving his hands, but Rashad refuses to engage in that and continues to dance around. Right hand lands for Rashad and now Silva decides to taunt him by dropping his hands and sticking his chin out. Now Silvaís imitating Anderson Silva with the wild dropping hands and juking and jiving. Suddenly a right hand lands flush for the Brazilian though, and as Rashad steps back his legs buckle! Crowd explode as Silva closes in and Rashad goes down, but he manages to recover quickly and grabs the clinch to slow things down. Evans still looks wobbly and desperately tries to clinch as Silva looks to follow up, but he canít finish things and goes back to taunting for some reason. Looks odd but I think heís so exhausted that he canít go for the finish. Less than a minute left and Silvaís breathing really heavily. Rashad looks recovered fully now and he drives Thiago back into the cage, where the Brazilian works to defend a takedown as the fight comes to an end. Round goes to Thiago Silva but itís 29-28 for Rashad Evans overall.

Weíre going to the judges and itís a unanimous decision for Rashad Evans, 29-28 all round. Not the greatest fight of all time but it was an impressive performance for Rashad for two rounds at least, as he mixed his boxing and wrestling together tremendously and never let Thiago into the fight. To his credit Silva stayed out of really bad positions and kept on getting up, but the sheer pace forced him to wilt and when he did land the big bomb in the third round he just didnít have enough gas left in the tank to finish the fight. Rashadís obviously had better highlight reel moments before, but in terms of an overall performance this was one of his best as he put together the wrestling and striking seamlessly. And I cannot wait for Rashad vs. Rampage which weíre finally getting next month!

-And thatís the show as Mike Goldberg acknowledges all the injuries over the highlight reel.

Final Thoughts....

While the card didnít end up being quite as stacked as one mightíve hoped for whatís now the traditional New Yearís UFC show, the fighters more than made up for it by coming out and throwing caution to the wind, giving us one of the more exciting top-to-bottom shows in a while. There are no classics on the card and nothing will stand out as being important from a historical standpoint as so many of the fights were thrown together quickly, but nothing is horrible and you canít complain about really good fights like Stout-Lauzon and Miller-Lauzon as well as wild finishes in the Daley, Dos Santos, Ellenberger and Munoz fights. It certainly wonít be the most memorable card of 2010 but UFC 108 will probably turn out to be one of the most fun shows of the year. Thumbs firmly up.

Best Fight: Lauzon-Stout
Worst Fight: Oliveira-Gunderson

Overall Rating: ***3/4

Coming Soon....

UFC: 109-112, Fight Night 20 & 21, Versus 1
WEC: 47 and 48
King of the Cage: Various shows

Until next time,

Scott Newman:

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