Speed kills at UFC 108
Preview by Brady Crytzer
Despite being plagued with injuries, UFC 108 remains firm in its offering of a world class showdown in the sport’s most glamorous division. Two of the best light heavyweights in the sport will finally meet in Las Vegas as former world champion “Sugar” Rashad Evans trades barbs with KO puncher Thiago Silva in Saturday night’s main event. Both men have emerged from their respective grappling backgrounds to become some of the most dangerous strikers in the sport, and though the tale of the tape is even across the board, speed will be the determining factor on January 2nd. Who will be victorious Saturday night and move one step closer to the world light heavyweight title? Let’s look further into the main event of UFC 108.
Striking: Speed kills in this meeting of grapplers turned strikers, and the edge goes to Evans. Since making his debut in the UFC in 2005, The Ultimate Fighter 2 winner Evans has been highly criticized as a one dimensional wrestler with an inability to finish fights. Decision wins over Stephan Bonnar and Sam Hoger left critics anything but “sweet” on Evans, but all that changed after a second round TKO over Jason Lambert. Since then Evans has stopped three of his last six including highlight reel victories over Chuck Liddell, Sean Salmon, and world champion Forrest Griffin. Silva, who came into the UFC notable as a BJJ black belt with a penchant for throwing nasty blows, has stopped all but one of his thirteen victims and KO’ed eleven. With five of those knockout wins in the UFC Octagon, Silva has set himself apart as a dangerous threat for anyone in the light heavyweight division.
Silva is a nasty striker with reliable punching power, but Evans’ ability to beat the Brazilian to the punch and confuse him with footwork, timing, and countering will be the difference maker in the fight.
Grappling: Five years ago this fight would easily fit the category of wrestling versus jiu jitsu, but both Evans and Silva have come a long way since 2005. A former wrestling standout at Michigan State, Evans has used speedy takedowns and natural core strength to keep some of the world’s best staring at the lights. Training under the tutelage of Greg Jackson, Evans has rounded out his game and developed one of the best submission defenses in the division. Considering Silva’s grappling background and BJJ black belt, Evans made need every bit of it. Though he has shown solid technique, Silva largely uses his jiu jitsu experience to gain dominate position and keep it long enough to drop devastating punches.
Although it may not come down to it Evans can score takedowns easily against the rarely tested sprawl of Thiago Silva.
How They Match Up: If intimidation was a truly effective weapon at this level of the sport Thiago Silva would be the pound for pound best in the sport. However, it won’t help him against Evans.
Evans has proven that he is a highly effective wrestler, and teammates including Brian Stann have claimed that there is no worse place to be in the gym than underneath “Sugar” Rashad.
Evans could win this fight easily by pressuring Silva with takedowns, but as seen in his lone KO loss to Machida, the former world champion will only use it as a last resort. Though he was being shellacked by “The Dragon,” Evans remained firm in his commitment to winning on the feet.
Evans will most definitely want to prove himself by trading with Silva on January 2nd. Although it will prove a rocky and tumultuous road, it will be a road to victory nonetheless.
Look for Evans to get the TKO victory in round two, very similar to his performance against Forrest Griffin. He won’t KO the Brazilian, but he will knock him down and stop him with punches from the top position.