Sunday, January 3, 2010

UFC 108: 10 Things We Learned Last Night

1. Rashad Evans MUST Use His Wrestling

Over the first two rounds, the former light heavyweight champion kept Thiago Silva off balance, blending his quick hands with powerful takedowns. The first ten minutes of the bout were all Evans, and the frustrated look on Silva's face said it all.

Two things in Round 3 seemed to stop Evans' approach: first, Silva actually stuffed a takedown attempt, and secondly, the Brazilian began taunting Rashad as if the former Michigan State star had been avoiding him all night. Don't worry, we'll get to that soon.

For whatever reason, Evans stopped utilizing his tremendous shot, and nearly lost the fight as a result. Silva landed a heavy-handed counter that rocked Rashad, though he failed to capitalize and the former champ came away with a unanimous 29-28 decision.

The Rashad Evans from the first two rounds is a fighter who can be successful again in the UFC light heavyweight division. His great wrestling base combined with the speed and power of his hands can keep opponents guessing. But when they don't have to guess and Evans decides to stand-and-trade, he's playing with fire.

Last night, he almost got burned.

2. Thiago Silva Deserves All the Criticism He's About to Receive

Let me start by asking how a guy can be down two rounds, walk into the center of the cage and taunt his opponent the way Silva did Evans?

Dude, you had done absolutely nothing up until that point and you're gesticulating to the crowd and Evans as if he needs to bring the fight to you? In the words of Keyshawn Johnson on NFL Countdown, "C'MON MAN!"

What makes it even worse is that once Silva connected with a counter right that gave Evans a severe case of the rubber legs, Silva pounced... for like 12 seconds. Then he backed away, caught his breath, and gave his dazed and confused opponent all the time he needed to regroup enough to secure the victory.

Welcome to life as a dangerous, but fatally flawed gatekeeper. Keith Jardine will be happy to show you around.

3. Nothing Like Spoiled Fans Who Have to Bitch About Everything

Gotta love that there are scores of fans out there this morning calling Rashad Evans everything from a coward to boring and back again following his win over Thiago Silva.

This is what kills me about some fans of this sport and makes me want to shake them violently. Even after a solid night of fights, they have to find something to bitch about.

While we all love watching a slugfest, that 30-second stretch in the third round showed why Rashad Evans trading punches all night long with Thiago Silva was a horrible idea.

Do these same people who are calling Rashad a coward for not boxing with Silva all night say the same about GSP when he drags everyone to the ground over and over and over again?

4. Worst. Idea. Ever.

Let's say you're Dustin Hazelett.

You're set to face a guy nicknamed after a Special Forces explosive who everyone knows is lethal on his feet, and suspect on the ground. While your striking has improved, you're still much, much better on the ground, as you own a black belt in Brazilian jiu jitsu.

When you're the grappler in a "Grappler vs. Striker" matchup, why in the name of everything right in the word would you think that standing with the striker and not even trying to bring the fight to the ground would be a good approach?

That's right - it isn't, it wasn't and it never will be.

Did you think everyone was just clowning when they told you standing with Paul Daley was bad for your health?

5. Daley vs. Koscheck is Going to be Fun

My colleague Brian Oswald opined that this fight needs to happen following Dana White's comments at the post-event press conference last night.

With just about everyone else in the welterweight division otherwise occupied, there is a very good chance that the dangerous Daley and always game Koscheck will meet in the very near future, and it's going to be awesome.

First, the war of words is going to be extremely entertaining. Both are championship-caliber smack talk artists and have never met a microphone they didn't like. While it won't get personal like Dan Hardy and Marcus Davis, expect some bon mots from both men.

Second, the fight itself will be violent.

If they stand? Fireworks.

On the canvas? Ground and pound fireworks.

If they fought this fight after jumping out of an airplane? Aerial fireworks.

This would be a tremendous third fight on the UFC 112 show from Abu Dhabi, tentatively featuring Anderson Silva vs. Vitor Belfort in the main event, and Matt Hughes vs. Renzo Gracie in the two hole.

6. Sam Stout Looked Great. Period. End Sentence.

A lot of people are adding "but you have to remember that Joe Lauzon was coming off knee surgery blah blah blah blah blah" on the end of that sentence this morning, and that is unfair to Sam Stout.

Yes, Lauzon was seeing his first action in 11 months and we've seen in the past that fighters coming back from that kind of injury (torn MCL) need roughly 18 months to get back to full strength (example: Shogun), but let's not take anything away from Sam Stout.

The London, Ontario native - and friend of Keyboard Kimura - weathered an early storm, one which included a wild, diving kimura attempt, to pick apart Lauzon for the final two-and-a-half rounds.

Was Lauzon tired? Absolutely, but doesn't detract from the crisp boxing and precision attack Stout delivered.

Interesting to see where each fighter goes from here.

7. Tweet of the Night

Next time you find yourself saying "Just give Striker X a year or two to work on the ground game...", think of Bang Ludwig. He's had nine.

That bit of wisdom courtesy of Sherdog's Jordan Breen, summing up the Jim Miller submission of Duane "Bang" Ludwig as succinctly as possible.

By the way: Miller did exactly what he had to do, and his comments at the end of the fight were 100% on point.

8. What More Does dos Santos Have to Do?

A full-length version of this point is coming soon, but the abridgment goes like this:

In four fights, "Cigano" has laid out Fabricio Werdum, Stefan Struve, Mirko Cro Cop and Gilbert Yvel.

Say what you want about each of those four fighters, but cumulatively, there isn't a single heavyweight in the UFC who has put together a four-fight run as destructive and impressive as dos Santos has delivered.

9. Really Cole?

The reverse triangle / kimura combo submission of Dan Lauzon was pretty nice, but should you really be running over to the cage, shouting to Dana White, "I told you I'd kick his ass?"

After all, the guy (Dan Lauzon) did floor you and have you on the ropes at one point.

Turns out the American Top Team member had no recollection of getting dropped by Lauzon.

Maybe next time you have a little humility and wait to watch the replay before making yourself look like an idiot on live television.

All the awesomeness of your submission and great show of sportsmanship after the tap went out the window with your ill-advised words to White.

Sidenote: I really want to know what Dana's reaction was. If it were me, the words, "Sure thing, Slick" would have been all I could muster without bursting into laughter.

10. For a Lackluster PPV, We Saw Nine Quality Fights

While there was no way to know this going into the broadcast, anyone who invested $49.99 from the comfort of their own home last night (example: me) got to see nine entertaining bouts, although watching the Prelims Live special on Spike meant you saw four of those fights twice.

Still, just as a couple of the supposedly "lackluster" cards from the UFC Fall / Winter schedule had done before it, UFC 108 delivered some great performances, a number of stoppages and a quality broadcast all things considered.

Would it have been even more awesome if the scads of fighters originally slated to compete on the card could have been involved? Absolutely, but you can only play the hand you're dealt, and the UFC came through with a nice hand last night if you ask me.


  1. Spencer:

    Your 10 things i learned pieces give me something to read that wont make me think the author is a dumbass. thank you for instilling confidence in mma writing. I thoroughly enjoy your work... thanks for all.

  2. Joseph:

    Thank you for the kind words. Part of what led me to focusing on MMA was what I perceived (right or wrong) as a lack of quality writers out there.

    While I don't put myself in the company of the best in the business, I like to think I am objective enough to tell it like it is, and fearless enough to state my opinions whether they're popular or not.

    I'll keep writing as long as you keep reading.

  3. Love your blog. But what was the reference to Jardine and the 'flawed gatekeeper' intended to mean? What are you taking issue with Jardine over? I missed it.


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