Thoughts On UFC 108: Evans vs. Silva

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A surprisingly good night of fights considering there were more last-minute injuries, dropouts, and replacement matchups than any other card in recent memory. Spectacular finishes all around save for Joe Lauzon/Sam Stout and Evans/Silva.

I’ve been giving MMA events a more critical eye because I’m pondering getting back into betting on the events and I’m trying to figure out what factors I need to look for when picking a winner. In no particular order:

  • Joe Lauzon/Sam Stout. Lauzon was the major favorite in this match despite the fact that his last fight was 11 months ago AND he was out for some serious ACL surgery. 11 months of ring rust and surgery can take a lot out of a fighter’s momentum. This is also what I was thinking during Cung Le’s recent loss to Scott Smith, though admittedly Le was whooping Smith’s ass for 9/10ths of that fight. It’s a shame, because I like Lauzon’s strategic approach to MMA. Lesson learned: Watch out for ring rust, especially due to injury.
  • Dustin Hazelett/Paul Daley. Practically a repeat of Demian Maia / Nate Marquardt from a few months ago. Heartbreaking because I’m a BJJ fan, but that’s what he got for standing up with a guy who is nicknamed after plastic explosives. I hate it when that happens–especially when DALEY DIDN’T MAKE WEIGHT. Lesson learned: Watch out for fighters who can’t make weight–that size advantage can be huge against a grappler.
  • Rashad Evans / Thiago Silva. This fight went almost exactly how I predicted (you can’t tell, but I’m preening right now)–Evans by boring decision thanks to his renewed interest in his wrestling skills, which I only called because the guy SAID he was working on his wrestling in an interview leading up to the fight. I was surprised that he didn’t manage to do any damage whatsoever on the ground, but from what I can tell Evans’ gameplan was simply to score points with the takedowns and allow Silva to sit up rather than go for his back or hang around in his guard. Evans basically made no attempt to finish the fight, but he masterfully worked his way around Silva’s strengths by using his wrestling to neutralize Silva’s Muay Thai and wisely backing off before seriously engaging Silva on the ground. Lessons learned: 1) Clinch takedowns work well against the cage, shooting takedowns don’t work so well. 2) Greg Jackson + elite wrestlers = brilliant gameplans, 3) Pay attention to gameplan details in the pre-fight interviews, 4) Unless someone is specifically known for their guard game, a “Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Black Belt” in the UFC probably just means that they’re good on finishing from the top and surviving from the bottom, not necessarily working solid sweeps or subs from the guard–especially if it’s a UFC main event-caliber fighter.

So far I’m 4 for 4 between UFC 107 and 108. Here’s hoping 2010 continues this way. 😉

-patrick miller

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