The UFC opens the new decade — or is it closing the old one? — with its 108th pay-per-view event featuring a main event between top light heavyweight fighters Rashad Evans and Thiago Silva. I actually think it is technically the UFC’s year-closeout event as it follows in the tradition of the promotion’s Christmas/New Year’s event even if it occurs on the 2nd of January this year.
No matter where the UFC will end up putting the event in its yearly books, one thing is for sure — it has been plagued from its inception. Injury after injury has derailed everything from potential main events to undercard fights.
What we are left with is a main event featuring 205 lb fighters Rashad Evans and Thiago Silva, two fighters who are unquestionably in the top five of the division and fighting for an opportunity to face the division champion.
This fight will come down to who wins the stand up portion of the fight. Both men are feared punchers who can knock out their opponents with either hand. The difference could really be which fighter comes in in the better shape, more focused and with the greater determination.
Originally this card featured a title fight between Brock Lesnar and Shane Carwin (postponed from UFC 106 and canceled when Lesnar’s illness finally became diagnosed) then a title fight between middleweight champion Anderson Silva and Vitor Belfort (postponed when Silva’s recovery time was lengthened). The fact is Evans was orignially scheduled to fight Quinton “Rampage” Jackson at UFC 107 three weeks prior as the culmination to their coaching stint on The Ultimate Fighter season 10.
Jackson pulled out of their bout to film a movie so with Evans needing an opponent, Silva fresh off his destruction of Evans’ teammate and good friend Keith Jardine, stepped right in to fill the void. The talk and the hype still surround the inevitable clash between Evans and Jackson because of their heated rivalry. This could be in Evans’ head and prove to be a major factor come Saturday night.
The other main card fights feature welterweights Paul “Semtex” Daley and Dustin Hazelett coming off an injury layoff. In another bout that has been altered due to injury (Daley was originally scheduled to face Carlos Condit), the winner will be the man who controls where the fight takes place. Daley is the more powerful striker while Hazelett the world class jiu-jitsu practitioner would be able to exploit Daley’s deficiencies on the ground.
Then there is a heavyweight showdown between Junior Dos Santos and UFC newcomer Gilbert Yvel. Yvel, though new to the UFC is the more expercienced fighter which could prove to be the difference in this bout. Dos Santos is an exciting up-and-coming prospect in the heavyweight division and after dominating Mirko “Cro Cop” in his last fight, could really emerge as a true challenger with a win over the dangerous Yvel.
A lightweight fight between Joe Lauzon and Sam Stout could wind up being the fight of the night and another 155 lb bout between Duane Ludwig and Jim Miller could surprise some people.
So while the card has been overturned by injuries and illnesses, it could turn out to be a very important stepping stone for many fighters. Regardless of what happens on Saturday night, one thing is for certain — the UFC and Dana White will be glad to put 108 in the rear view mirror.