Let’s do this haphazardly. The card was filled with rising talents but few big names, even so, UFC 108 proved to be a satisfying start to a New Year.
First, let me do a shout out to my comrade’s scintillating performance. I recall vividly my instant fondness to “The Filipino Wrecking Machine” Mark Munoz when he debuted on the Ultimate Fighting scene. I thought with great fervor as I watched him enter the cage and strut his stuff against Matt “The Hammer” Hammill:
“Oh lookie a Pinoy… he’s got that mountain-native-with-a-spear look about him… clearly a pure breed, not a nurse like Philippe Novar, not fat like Brandon Vera… fantastic. Okay, he’s moving, floating like a butterfly, this is great, he looks confident, footwork seems intact, good, good, good…”
And that’s about as far as I remember because I changed the channel. Sponge Bob was on. However, I have no doubt he won that fight. I’ve been told otherwise but you know how haters are…
Anyway, this past January 2, 2010, Mark Munoz silenced all the haters with a first round stoppage over a very game Ryan Jensen. He came, he conquered by making Ryan Jensen tap out due to a bevy of solid punches on the ground at the 2:30 mark of the first round and all I can say is, “P**a galing!!!”
Translation: “Good job buddy!”
In a fight that really disappointed me, “McLovin” Dustin Hazlet foolishly tried to eat Semtex for dinner and fainted at the mere taste of it. Nothing against Paul Daley, but I was hoping to see Hazlet add another truly inimitable submission maneuver to his impressive highlight reel over a tough customer in Paul Daley.
On the countdown to UFC 108, McLovin’ made no secret of his game plan for this fight and was quoted as saying:
“I see so many Jiu-Jitsu guys trying to out-strike a striker lately. I’m happy just submitting guys.”
I guess Dustin Hazlet fell victim to his own words when he attempted to get inside the strength of his opponent to land a two-punch combination, which, unfortunately, was all the opening Paul Daley needed. Daley, being no stranger to this sort of offensive pattern, threw a looping shot and severed Hazlet’s spirit from reality immediately upon connection. I think the current UFC Welterweight Champion Georges St. Pierre would one day meet this heavy-handed Brit somewhere down the road.
It’s going to be interesting to find out if Paul Daley could indeed punch his way through the top.
Junior Dos Santos confirms yet again that he belongs in the current crop of the Heavyweight Elites. Jim Miller arm-bars Duane Ludwig and Sam Stout decisions Joe Lauzon.
Finally the first leg of the race toward the UFC Light Heavyweight Throne is over and the victor: “Sugar” Rashad Evans. Rashad must have been breathing deep sighs of relief right after his encounter with the powerhouse Thiago Silva. He escaped the jaws of defeat through a great amount of luck – that fortune being Thiago Silva unable to finish the job in the grasp of exhaustion.
Rashad did a great job negating Silva on the first two rounds using his superior ground skills, his great wrestling undoubtedly the key to his victory. He’s been knocking people out in his last few fights before losing to Machida that he has virtually abandoned the foundation that brought him to where he is now. Wrestling has always been his greatest asset and hearing him babble about vengeance – expressing how badly he wanted to punch his friend’s tormentor on the face – prior to Saturday’s fight made me uneasy about his chances against a young powerful striker who is in his prime like Thiago Silva. Had Rashad opted to strike with Thiago on the on-set like he did on the third and final round, he would have been knocked out.
But like a true champion, he was able to let his emotions slide for a while and it paid off. He followed the game plan steadfastly and the unanimous decision that succeeded was well deserved.
With this victory, Rashad Evans re-mounted the winning horse and is slowly inching towards another title contention. First leg of the race is over, second leg begins, next opponent – possibly the returning former light heavyweight champion Quinton “Rampage” Jackson.
It is no secret that these two genuinely hate each other as we have witnessed during the heat of the The Ultimate Fighter Season 10 series where Rashad Evans’ team wiped out Quinton’s bigger, meaner looking heavyweight team, which included the highly-touted street fighter Kimbo Slice.
Now, while Evans’ team did clean the Ultimate Fighter House, coaching and fighting are two different planes but Rashad calling out Quinton Jackson right after his triumph over Thiago Silva says he is ready, willing to fight at any time, and not at all intimidate by Rampage. Rashad wants him that bad. One has to wonder, though, if he can take Quinton’s strength, unlike Silva, Rampage is raw power, carries nukes in his fists, his physical force is unparalleled both standing up and on the ground.
And, although, probably not as impressive, is that Quinton too holds a wrestling background that could effectively counteract Rashad’s. How “Sugar” will deal with Rampage’s God-given strength and punching power is interesting to ponder. What he has over Quinton is his superior speed and mobility which I could see being the strategy coming in for this fight to able Rashad to create the angles and openings that would eventually break Quinton Jackson down.
So yeah this early on I am predicting a Rashad Evans’ victory over Quinton Jackson. A TKO win!
Thiago Silva, Quinton Jackson, Chuck Liddell… they’ve all had power, they’ve all had great jiu-jitsu…
What makes Rashad Evans’ a cut above most and from what we have just witnessed this past fight night is not his tremendous capacity for learning but perhaps his formidable intelligence that allows him to see the cracks in defenses and penetrate the impenetrable.