The MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada hosts one of the most injury-stricken cards in memory when UFC 108 hits the airwaves on Spike TV and pay-per-view and Spike TV. But like UFC 107, a card can’t be judged by the names on the marquee but by the fights in the cage. Here are FIGHT!’s picks for UFC 108 with odds courtesy of bodog.
(Rashad Evans en route to winning the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship versus Forrest Griffin.)
The Brazilian terror recently disposed of Evans’ friend and teammate Keith Jardine in less than five minutes at UFC 102, so the Michigan State wrestler has excess motivation to get rid of Silva en route to another shot at title holder Lyoto Machida—a man who knocked both Evans and Silva out for their first losses.
Silva, a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt under famed trainer Ricardo Liborio, comes from American Top Team while Evans hails from Jackson’s MMA. The battle of elite camps ensures both will be ready; however, its Greg Jackson’s strategy that elevates Evans beyond Silva’s killer stand-up and mean top-control jiu-jitsu. “Sugar” can open up strikes with the threat of takedowns and when he follows through, force Silva to tire and work from a position he hasn’t seen in the Octagon—his back. Look for Evans’ stand-up defense, speed and takedowns to carry him to victory.
FIGHT! Pick: Evans.
(Paul Daley wrecks Martin Kampmann in his UFC debut.)
Welterweight prospects Paul Daley and Dustin Hazelett steer the co-main event. A former Cage Rage champion, “Semtex” blew up Martin Kampmann in his short notice UFC 103 debut in September. Hazelett, meanwhile, returns from an injury layoff and a cancelled bout with Karo Parysian to fight for the first time since late 2008. Injuries kept the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu stylist from keeping his momentum going as one of the sport’s most interesting prospects. A classic striker-versus-grappler bout awaits both combatants, one of whom will take a giant leap towards a bout with 170-pound king Georges St-Pierre.
To win this fight, Daley’s movement is going to have to be on point. The Team Roughhouse fighter has to close the distance to overcome Hazelett’s reach advantage to land strikes without allowing Hazelett to clinch for takedowns. It’s about timing, but with Hazelett sporting some ring rust, it should work. Daley’s takedown defense and steadily improving defensive grappling should see him catch Hazelett making a mistake before he does.
FIGHT! Pick: Daley.
Fast in every facet of the fight, Joe Lauzon and Sam Stout will battle center cage on Saturday night. The 155-pounders have patched up holes in their game to be well-rounded threats; however, Lauzon’s knack for winning scrambles will likely find him success before Stout’s “Hands of Stone” do.
FIGHT! Pick: Lauzon.
This will determine if one of the sport’s lightweight trailblazers, “Bang” Ludwig, still has the good stuff left. Miller is a snowball of force inside the cage and the Coloradoan’s weaknesses have notoriously been Miller’s strengths. Ludwig has a reach advantage and dangerous striking though. The muay Thai fighter has the mixed martial arts knowledge to fight that way without giving up easy takedowns. He has enough to employ his veteran gamesmanship to challenge Miller consistently, appearing more appealing in the eyes of the judges next to Miller’s wear-and-tear game.
FIGHT! Pick: Miller.
Big heavyweights, big hitters, Dutch striker Gilbert Yvel meets Brazilian bomber Junior dos Santos. Yvel, a respected albeit controversial veteran, makes his UFC debut, while dos Santos has been representing mentor Antonio Rodrigo “Minotauro” Nogueira well during a three-fight win streak. From shocking fans with a FIGHT! 2008 “Upset of the Year” winner against Fabricio Werdum and a recent stoppage of PRIDE legend Mirko Crocop, dos Santos found the top-10 no problem. Both combatants want to stand and fight, which would appear to favor Yvel but Dos Santos has been on a tear lately and we wouldn’t be surprised if he stunned the vet.
FIGHT! Pick: Dos Santos.
FIGHT! Pick: Evans. Resulting Outcome: CORRECT
Paul Daley (-115) vs. Dustin Hazelett (-115)
FIGHT! Pick: Daley Resulting Outcome: CORRECT
Joe Lauzon (-300) vs. Sam Stout (+240)
FIGHT! Pick: Lauzon Resulting Outcome: INCORRECT
Duane Ludwig (+400) vs. Jim Miller (-600)
FIGHT! Pick: Miller. Resulting Outcome: CORRECT
Gilbert Yvel (+260) vs. Junior dos Santos (-340)
FIGHT! Pick: Santos. Resulting Outcome: CORRECT