UFC 108: Evans survives Silva
Octagonside by Andreas Hale
Photos by Chris Cozzone
At UFC 108, former light heavyweight champion "Suga" Rashad Evans got one step closer to either another title shot or a fight with the returning Quinton "Rampage" Jackson as he outlasted a furious rally from Thiago Silva to earn a unanimous decision victory in front of thousands at the MGM Grand Garden - his first victory since being stopped by Lyoto Machida.
Although Evans and his improved striking has created many highlight reel finishes, it would be his wrestling pedigree that gave him the upper hand against the dangerous Silva.
From the outset, Evans imposed his will on Silva scoring takedown after takedown - even though he couldn't keep the Brazilian on his back for long.
“It was a strategy I got away from for a long time because I’ve been having success doing other things, but I got back to it,” Evans said. “It was difficult, but I stuck with the game plan.”
The game plan saw Evans punch his way inside of Silva, where the American Top Team striker couldn’t create space to rifle off his assortment of punches. From there, Evans would constantly use single and double leg takedowns to score and bag rounds early. The only thing Silva seemed to have on his mind early on was trying to time Evans with a counter uppercut as the Greg Jackson student came in. It would be to no avail as Silva repeatedly found himself being slammed over and over again.
That all changed midway through round three.
With Silva clearly flustered by Evans and his lack of engaging in a firefight, Silva would begin mocking Evans fighting style. The 13,000+ cheered in approval as Silva raised his hands and stuck his chin out at Evans, figuring he could get a rise out of the former champion by taking a shot at his bravado. The ploy nearly worked as Silva would whack Evans with a right cross that saw Evans lose his legs and begin stumbling to the cage.
Smelling blood in the water, Silva chased him down and looked for the highlight reel finish. Unfortunately for him, his energy was spent and he couldn’t muster up enough offense to put “Suga” away. Evans would play it smart and latch on to Silva for the remaining moments of the fight.
“I didn’t realize how hard it was until I tried to take a step back, and then I was like, ‘Where’s my legs at?’” Evans said.
A similar situation transpired when Evans was knocked out by Lyoto Machida back in May. Evans was hurt but chose to stand and fight rather than clinch. That ill-advised decision cost him then, but Evans wouldn’t let it cost him now.
Scores read 29-28 across the board for Evans, who is sure to be in line for a huge fight with Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, should Jackson make good on his promise to return to the UFC after filming the A-Team movie.
“I hear that there’s an actor that came back to the fighting game, the UFC, and Rampage, I know you’re watching. Come back, and let’s get it on,” Evans said.
Daley Demolishes “McLovin”
It was a classic “Striker Vs Grappler” fight between Paul “Semtex” Daley and Dustin “McLovin” Hazelett that went the way of the striker as “Semtex” brutally knocked out Hazelett in the first round of a fight that sent a message to the entire welterweight division. Daley - who came in overweight - knew that he would be in trouble if the fight managed to get to the ground. Fortunately for him, Hazelett opted to stand with Daley rather than go for the takedown.
“I wasn’t surprised he chose to stand with me,” Daley said. “Dustin’s a great guy, a great fighter, and he knew he had to stand with me. All fights start standing, so I wasn’t surprised at all.”
“McLovin” would start the fight with a bizarre somersault that saw his 6’1” frame roll the length of the Octagon. As if that wasn’t strange enough, Hazelett would stay upright as Daley whipped several leg kicks into the submission specialist’s legs. Hazelett would keep “Semtex” at bay with several front kicks but was clearly out of his element as Daley kept prodding for an opening. When it presented itself, Daley would take full advantage and unleash a massive left hook that completely obliterated Hazelett and sent him crashing to the mat. If he wasn’t out of it then, a monster barrage of punches from Daley - that sent Hazelett’s head bouncing off the canvas - would finish him off as referee Herb Dean jumped in to wave off the fight at 2:24 in the first round.
“He caught me with a jab,” Daley said. “I was always going to come with an overhand right over his jab, so I led with an overhand right, came back with a left hook and, luckily, I caught him.”
With the win, Daley must begin to factor into the 170 pound title picture as his dismantling of Martin Kampmann and Hazelett has put the MMA world on notice.
Fight of the Night: Stout Impressive In Victory
Sam Stout put on a stand-up clinic as he upended Joe Lauzon and may be factoring into the lightweight title picture as he delivered a dizzying array of strikes en route to a unanimous decision victory.
Stout’s most impressive performance to date was almost one that ended in the first round as J-Lau immediately took Stout down and looked to lock in a kimura. In an amazing sequence, Stout would roll three times and somehow escape from Lauzon’s grip. From there, “Hands of Stone” put his boxing skills on display as he continuously ripped Lauzon with body shots and combinations.
Baby Lauzon would search for openings to take Stout down, but the “Hands of Stone” managed to stuff nearly every one of Lauzon’s attempts. With the MGM crowd behind him, Stout continued to throttle his opponent with a variety of punches and kicks. By the time the fight entered the third stanza, Lauzon looked completely flustered as he could get nothing going against the surging Canadian. In the closing moments, Lauzon looked to lock in a last ditch guillotine choke but Stout would power out and get to his feet as the MGM exploded with its approval. Stout would close the night with a jumping knee and a spinning back fist to put an exclamation point on an impressive performance. All three judges scored it in favor of Stout 30-26 and 30-27 (twice) as the fight earned “Fight of the Night” honors.
Miller Taps Ludwig
The night of first round endings continued as Jim Miller ended Duane Ludwig’s night early with a slick arm bar. Ludwig’s return to the UFC didn’t go quite as he hoped as he hoped to get the shorter Miller into a firefight so he could showcase his stellar striking ability. Unfortunately for “Bang,” Miller has been working on his stand-up and caught Ludwig with a beautiful right hook that dropped him to the mat. Miller swiftly hopped into full mount and immediately cinched in an armbar. Although Ludwig fight out of it, Miller would extend the arm enough to force the tap at 2:31.
“Cigano” Wrecks Yvel
In the opening fight of the Pay Per View, Junior Dos Santos continued to impress as he demolished Gilbert Yvel en route to a first round TKO victory.
“Cigano” entered to the Rocky theme but didn’t need to rally like most of the Sylvester Stallone movies. Dos Santos constantly stalked “The Hurricane” and cracked his opponent with several punches thrown bad intentions. After Yvel saw his kick attempt blocked, Dos Santos waved the Dutch fighter in and landed a monstrous counter left hand that collapsed the former PRIDE FC knockout artist.
The Brazilian would subsequently pounce and unleash a hurricane of punishment before referee Herb Dean could come to the rescue and wave off the fight at 2:07. With yet another victory that ends in devastating fashion, many have to wonder how long it will be before Dos Santos factors into the heavyweight title picture.
Kampmann Chokes Out Volkmann
In a match-up of welterweights, Martin Kampmann put on an impressive performance and defeated Jacob Volkmann via tap out. Volkmann - who is known for his wrestling - surprised Kampmann early on as he chose to stand-up and exchange punches with the great Dane. Volkmann found much success early on as he landed several looping left and rights but Kampmann would counter and drop Volkmann momentarily with a slick right hand. The two continued to exchange shots and Volkmann would catch the Xtreme Couture fighter with a crisp three punch combination before Kampmann thrust yet another right hand that nearly separated Volkmann from his senses and sent him crumbling to the canvas. Kampmann lunged into Volkmann’s guard and proceeded to throttle him with a series of punches that clearly had Volkmann teetering towards unconsciousness. Volkmann would rise to his knees but find his neck being wrenched shortly thereafter by an inverted guillotine courtesy of The Hitman which ended “Christmas’” night at 4:03 in the first round.
Miller’s Slick Submission Taps Lauzon
The first fight televised on Spike TV ended up being a barn burner as Cole Miller earned a hard fought victory after making Dan Lauzon tap out in the first round. The two lightweights wasted no time getting to work as Miller rushed in and landed an assortment of punches and kicks before Lauzon uncorked a vicious left hook that dropped Miller to the mat like a sack of potatoes. Somehow, Miller would regain his senses and scramble to his feet as the two continued to exchange blows from the clinch and when they stepped away from each other. Lauzon would drag Miller to the mat but Miller transitioned into a nifty kimura/inverted triangle combination that left Lauzon nowhere to go and forced him to tap out at 3:05.
The Filipino Wrecking Machine Dominates Jenson
Mark Munoz got himself back on the winning track as he forced Ryan Jenson to submit to strikes in the first round of their middleweight matchup. Munoz has constantly been a victim of his own bravado as he’s tried to improve his rather pedestrian standup night in and night out. Against Jenson, it appeared that it would be more of the same as the fight began on the feet and saw Jenson hurt Munoz with a nasty three punch combination. The series of punches must have woke up the Oklahoma wrestling standout as Munoz took Jenson down and proceeded to give Jenson a brutal beating that began with a diving right hand. Referee Mario Yamasaki gave Jenson every opportunity to keep the fight going but Munoz and his wicked barrage of punches forced Jenson to tap out at 2:30.
Ellenberger Pounds Out Pyle
Jake Ellenberger earned his first UFC victory by defeating Mike Pyle via TKO at :22 in the second round. Early on, Ellenberger found that Pyle’s ground game is quite the handful as Pyle worked well off his back early on. Pyle kept the hyperactive Ellenberger in control for most of the first and nearly sunk in a kimura towards the end of the round. Obviously not wanting to wade into Pyle’s territory again, Ellenberger began the second round shrugging off a takedown attempt and delivering a hard knee to the midsection which opened up Pyle to and vicious Ellenberger right hand that floored Pyle. The rest was elementary as Ellenberger swarmed Pyle with punches and forced Yves Lavigne to wave off the bout at :22.
Oliveira Cruises To Easy Decision
The evening’s opening bout featured lightweight Rafaello Oliveira easily out pointing John Gunderson for three relatively dominant rounds. Gunderson spend much of the night either on his back or giving his back up as Oliveira frequently looked for ways to finish the fight. In the end, Gunderson simply had nothing for the Brazilian and ends up on the short end of a three round unanimous decision with scores of 30-27 across the board.