For the past few years, the Ultimate Fighting Championship has done a stellar job of putting together must-see events around New Year’s Eve and, perhaps, an even better job of finding suitable replacements on such short notice to fill in for marquee names who have pulled out of various bouts for one reason or another.
Though UFC 108: Evans Vs. Silva has seen more plague than those kids from Rent, the event doesn’t look enticing enough to purchase at the lofty price of $44.99, let alone an additional ten bucks to view it in high definition. And on paper, this event isn’t anywhere near on par with previous year-end events UFC 92 Ultimate 2008, UFC 79 Nemesis or UFC 66 Liddell vs. Ortiz 2.
Centered on a light heavyweight main event between TUF 10 coach Rashad Evans and the highly-touted Brazilian buzzsaw Thiago Silva, Dish Network is selling this match as one that has “serious implications on the title picture at 205 pounds.” But that’s seriously not true. If Evans wins, it just affirms his standing as a top contender who won’t get a title shot until August at the very earliest (Machida is defending the strap against Shogun in May 2010). All “Sugar” really gets is a pat on the back from Dana White, a box of cookies and, if TUF nemesis Rampage Jackson doesn’t come back to fight soon, a long vacation. If the Brazilian underdog wins, he will earn a little bit more respect and be awarded a fight – not a title shot – against someone like Lil’ Nog or Rich Franklin.
The main event feels underwhelming, but the undercard has a bit interest. While it’s easy to foresee that lightweights Jim Miller and Joe Lauzon will dictate the pace of their matches against game opponents Duane “Bang” Ludwig and Sam Stout, respectively, there are two solid bouts that seem more unpredictable with a lot more at stake.
The first is a quality welterweight contest between the mega explosive striker Paul “Semtex” Daley and jiu-jitsu wiz Dustin “McLovin” Hazelett, both of whom are a few wins away from challenging GSP for his 170-pound strap. Daley’s mouth is just as big as his punching power (ask Martin Kampmann) and Hazelett is a durable submission specialist who brings the heat (ask pro golfer-in-training Josh Burkman).
As for the other, it’s a heavyweight clash between Junior Dos Santos and Gilbert Yvel. Dos Santos, a fighter everyone fails to mention in the same in the same breath as Cain Velasquez and Shane Carwin, has proven that he is one of the premier knockout artists in the 265-pound division. If he wins in convincing fashion, folks will be forced to mention him in the same breath as the division’s other young guns. As for Gilbert Yvel, this is his chance to not only spoil the Brazilian’s run for title glory, but also to prove that he can play nice with others so he can be granted a regular fighter’s license in the state of Nevada.
Despite a few interesting matches, this event has completely lost its luster. The card was supposed to be explosive with headlining bouts along the lines of Anderson Silva vs. Vitor Belfort for the UFC Middleweight title, Brock Lesnar vs. Shane Carwin for the UFC Heavyweight championship, and even Minotauro Nogueira vs. Cain Velasquez in a number one contender’s bout. But due to injuries and illness, it’s been reduced to Evans vs. Silva, originally a co-main event that simply can’t compare to the greatness it was supposed to be. And your BFF won’t even touch the undercard. That thing’s had more partners than Tiger Woods.
Two years ago, this show would have been free on Spike TV as an Ultimate Fight Night telecast. Nowadays, with more and more UFC pay per views than ever, it’s becoming more and more difficult to shovel out $44.99 approximately every three weeks for four hours of skull-bashing fun. But if I do spend the dough, then I want to see a quality main event that is either a title fight or contains a must-see storyline, and UFC 108: Evans Vs. Silva doesn’t have either.
This is a recession. I’m not made of money like Jon Gosselin (though it looks like child support will make him go broke). I’d rather go to the bar, spend fifteen bucks on food and enjoy the MMA comradery.