UFC 108 comes to us on January 2nd 2010. The first event of the new year for the UFC. It does not have the big-name power that many of the previous cards have had, but it will still be a night of good fights and top-notch MMA action. Before I get to the preview of the fights, I want to talk about the year ahead for the UFC briefly. If the health of Brock Lesnar gets better, he will un-doubtedly defend his title against, most likely, Frank Mir. It will also be interesting to track the ascension of Cain Valazquez and Junior Dos Santos. If you look outside the scope of the UFC, I will be paying close attention to Bobby Lashley and his quest to take down Fedor Emelianenko fighting for StrikeForce. He will make his debut there on January 30th. Switching gears back to the UFC, there are several things of interest to pay attention to. How will GSP look after he recovers from injury? Will anyone be able to stop BJ Penn in the LightWeight class? Will Kenny Florian get another title shot? Who will Anderson Silva embarrass next? Will Brock be the same after his recovery from illness? If he is back to full health can anyone stand a chance against him? Can Randy Couture dominate at his age in the 205 class? How will UFC.com ‘s top 10 newcomers of 2009 perform? How about Roy Nelson? Could he challenge Brock? Will Kimbo Slice amount to anything? Just some of the many questions heading into the new year. We’ll get to some of those in later posts, for now, here’s a look at the UFC 108 Card.
Just looking at this card, the casual fan would not get overly exciting as there really is only 1 or 2 big names that really pop out at you. The main event is going to be a killer fight with possible 205 pound weight class championship implications. With UFC 108 just 5 days away, lets take a look at the fights.
Junior “Cigano” Dos Santos (9-1) vs Gilbert “The Hurricane” Yvel (36-13-1)
This is going to be one exciting heavyweight fight. Junior Dos Santos is an up and coming heavyweight. He is 6’4″ and usually fights around 240. He has only lost 1 time in his career and is really exciting a lot of people in the UFC. Gilbert Yvel on the other hand is an established heavyweight star. A MMA veteran who had an amazing career in PRIDE is making his UFC debut on January 2nd. A win in this fight would propel Dos Santos even further up the heavyweight ladder and put him in position to start fighting the likes of Frank Mir and Shane Carwin. Yvel just has to prove that he still has it at 33, and has a ton of world-class experience. He is very dangerous on his feet, and has killer kicks and knees. He can knock his opponent out from almost any position. Dos Santos on the other hand is a boxer, and incredibly strong. He has proven that he has a good chin and can take big hits. He is 3-0 in the UFC with wins over Stefan Struve, Mirko Cro Cop and Fabricio Werdum, 3 big-time fighters. He came away from those with a knock out, a TKO and a submission victory. He is very well rounded. I see this opening fight going the distance, 3 rounds, of non-stop action. Yvel shows that Dos Santos still has a way to go before he is a heavyweight elite, and wins a split decision.
Jim Miller (15-2) vs Duane “Bang” Ludwig (27-9)
The 2nd fight of the night is taking place at 155 pounds. Jim Miller boasts a very impressive record and is taking on the experienced “Bang” Ludwig who is returning to the UFC after a 3 year hiatus. The 26 year old miller is a submissions expert who is known to have excellent cardio. He is 4-1 in his UFC career with 3 of those fights going all 3 rounds and a 4th ending in the 3rd by submission. He is the kind of fighter that you customarily see in the 155 class, not to say that he is just a run of the mill fighter, but his style is very much like others in that weight class. Ludwig is known for his striking and was previously 2-0 in the UFC with an 11 second knock out against Jonathan Goulet in 2006. My pick for this fight is Jim Miller, winning by submission in the 2nd round.
Joe “J-Lau” Lauzon (17-4) vs Sam Stout (15-5-1)
The 25 year old Canadian, Sam Stout, is known to be a very potent striker and likes to keep his fights standing up. He is 3-4 in the UFC. The only fight Stout has been in that did not go the distance was when Kenny Florian submitted him in round 1 of their fight. Both of these guys are tough 155 pound competitors, Joe Lauzon is a polar opposite to Stout. Lauzon is great at submissions and almost always ends his fights that way. He is 5-1 in the UFC with 3 of those wins coming by submission. His only loss is also against Kenny Florian. He is a much more well rounded fighter then Stout who has not shown much talent on the ground in his career and is primarily a striker, where Lauzon has shown a good amount of ability to stand fights up but much prefers to take things to the ground. Lauzon is a much better fighter on paper with a better record in as many fights, but with his preference to go to the ground he might get caught early and often by Stout. Stout has good conditioning and has proved it with his fights lasting longer, Lauzon has never had a fight go into the 3rd round, but he has never needed to take a fight into the 3rd. I am thinking that this will be Lauzon’s first 3 rounder, he will win by submission in the 3rd.
Dustin Hazelett (14-4) vs Paul “Semtex” Daley (22-8-2)
This is one of those fights that you love to see. You have a submission expert in Hazelett taking on a world-class striker, Daley. Daley is 26 but has already had 32 professional fights, and is probably the best KO guy in the 170 pound class. He burst onto the UFC seen in 2009 with a destruction of Martin Kampman who he TKO’d in under 3 minutes of the 1st round of their fight. He is one of the best punchers in MMA, in any weight class. Hazelett, who fights out of Cincinnati, Ohio, is one of the best submission fighters in the weight class. He has a 5-2 UFC record, winning 4 of those fights by submission and has one unanimous decision victory. He has incredible flexibility and heart and will not go down easily. He can stand up pretty well, but his strength is in getting his opponents to the ground with Judo throws and takedowns and getting himself into advantageous positions. Daley has a tough matchup against him, this is just his 2nd UFC fight and his first against a top flight submission specialist, and the younger, only 23 years old, Hazelett comes in with a much more well rounded game. Daley proves what we already know about him, and KO’s Hazelett in the 1st round.
Rashad “Sugar” Evans (18-1-1) vs Thiago Silva (14-1)
This matchup of Light Heavyweight 1 loss fighters could very well bring us the challenger to Lyota Machida’s title. Evans was the champion and was undefeated in his MMA career until he ran into the Dragon. We all know how good Rashad Evans is, in almost every facet of his game, and he is looking to re-establish himself after that loss to Machida. He hasn’t fought since because he was coaching on TUF Heavyweights with his rival Rampage Jackson, and this was originally supposed to be their fight. Jackson’s movie career however has gotten in the way of them fighting, and it brings us probably a much better fight. Thiago Silva’s star is continuing to rise in the UFC, and he definitely has is work cut out for him against Evans. Evans is a deadly combination of power, quickness and wrestling. He is nearly impossible to take down, and it is equally impossible to stop him from taking you down. However, if he so desires, he can stand up and knock someone out like he has down several times, especially against Chuck Liddell and Forrest Griffin. Evans boasts an 8-1-1 record in his UFC career. Silva exploded onto the UFC scene in 2007 and has done nothing but beat the crap out of his opponents ever since. His only loss in his 5-1 record and his career outside of the UFC came against Lyota Machida in a fight to see who would take on Evans for the title. Now that Machida is the champ, these 2 are the top competitors in the division for his title and they will clash in a fight that will be the early favorite for fight of the year, and it is the first big one of 2010. Silva brings his non-stop energy and aggression. Only one of Silva’s 6 fights in the UFC has gone past the 1st round, because his opponents are usually beaten into submission or knocked out well before then. He will probably not get so lucky against the former champ, who is a tough fighter who has the capacity and quickness to fight back and keep things up. The best thing for Evans to do against the 27 year old Brazilian is to get the fight to the ground and try and keep it there, and try to get the fight to go the distance or at least past the 1st to see if Silva tires out due to his fast paced fighting style. Evans is much more comfortable to pick his spots and wait for his opportunities to open up for him, but this style will be disrupted by Silva’s speed. Evans is probably the better conditioned of the two as he is used to his fights being drag out affairs with a lot of heavy hitting and ground fighting, but this one might not get to that point of Silva catches him with a flurry early in the 1st. A very hard fight to call, but I am feeling Sugar for this one. Evans gets Silva down and pounds on him taking advantage of the Brazilians speed and using it against him. 3rd round TKO for Evans. Fight of the Night, Knock Out of the Night and a big pay day for Evans. Evans will also earn himself the opportunity to fight Machida to avenge that loss and win back the title.
There’s my thoughts on UFC 108. Let me hear what you have to think about it and who you think will win the fights!