Gambling Spotlight: UFC 108


The foul year of our lord 2010 has not treated me well in its infancy.  I failed a friend last night, who lost a steak dinner bet to his girlfriend after I couldn't impose my will on a lady.  After returning home, I resorted to pulling guard on the toilet and lost a three round decision.  And when I went to buy some Gatorade and Fritos to relieve the spinning hangover, the register greeted me with a final total of $6.66.  Follow my bets with caution.

UFC 108 is finally upon us, giving the twenty fighters on the card a mere twenty-four hours to tear their ACL getting up from the blackjack table, lose sight in their eye in a freak table tennis accident, or concuss themselves falling out of bed.  I personally may miss the entire card if Dana White puts out another video blog or gives another inane interview that draws more attention away from promoting the actual event. 

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Rashad Evans

#3 Light Heavyweight
Former UFC LHW champ

 

vs.

Thiago Silva

#8 Light Heavyweight

-200 (BOOK/BODOG)

Best Line

+175 (5DIMES)

30

Age

27

5'11"

Height

6'1"

13 - 1 - 1

Record

14 - 1 - 0

5 / 2

TKO / SUB

11 / 2

Jackson's Submission Fighting

Camp

American Top Team

L - Machida (KO)
W - Griffin (TKO)
W - Liddell (KO)

Last Three

W - Jardine (KO)
L - Machida (KO)
W - Mendes (SUB)

From the analysis I've read around the 'net regarding this fight, I believe Rashad's strengths are being overvalued and his weakness being understated with the opposite holding true on Thiago's side. 

I harped on this before and after the Machida fight: Rashad's footwork is godawful to put it nicely and will hold him back from maintaining any sort of consistent success at the highest level.  I won't delve into the details (you can find the UFC 98 Gambling Spotlight or Jordan Breen's post-fight breakdown), but Evans leads with the wrong foot and constantly leaves his feet when he throws punches or eludes strikes.  It's incredibly hard to fix these sorts of learned habits this far into one's development, so there's no reason to expect the problem to magically disappear in this fight.

In addition to the shoddy footwork, one must consider the following: Outside of the two sequences that led to the finishes in the Liddell and Griffin fights, when has Evans ever looked particularly dominant in his last five fights?  He squeaked a decision win out of a blown up middleweight, for all intents and purposes lost to Tito Ortiz, and we don't need to be reminded of the stanky leg he showed off against Machida. 

This isn't an attempt to discredit his wins by any means, but to temper the adulation he receives that I'm not sure is entirely deserved.  After the Liddell KO, people couldn't help but gush over the "new" and "dynamic" Rashad Evans.  But really, the guy landed one punch on an aging and predictable fighter. 

As for Thiago, he gets unfairly criticized for being knocked down by a blocked Mendes kick.  Go back and watch the tape and you'll see that the kick itself didn't seem to damage Silva as much as it momentarily messed up his equilibrium.  You can tell by the look in his eyes during that exchange that he never was in any serious danger.  In fact, I'd go as far as saying Silva's handling of the situation is a net-positive as far as predictive analysis.  He maintained his composure like a champ and smashed Mendes out a couple minutes later.  And if you're going to use the Machida fight to question his chin and defense, you'd have to have similar questions about Rashad.

That's not to say there aren't legitimate concerns to have with Thiago's defense.  He does get hit more than he should, and he doesn't move laterally enough when he moves away.  But I don't think that's a big concern with Rashad, who throws more single strikes than putting together combinations. 

Our analysis wouldn't be complete if we didn't address the mysterious ankle injury rumor.  I tend to disregard most fight camp tidbits, but I think there's enough reason to, at the bare minimum, be cautious here.  Now, it's entirely possible that this is misinformation planted by the Silva camp or that it's a made up and unfounded fabrication put out by a faceless saboteur.  But I think we may have a case of spotted smoke coming from a hidden fire as it seems like a very odd thing to have been conjured out of nowhere.  Of course, we have no idea of the severity of the injury if it exists anyway (outside of knowing that it's not serious enough to force him out of the fight), so I would recommend one just play Silva that much more conservatively or Evans that much more aggressively depending on the side you're taking.

As for me, I do like Thiago at +175.  He showed a very patient and cerebral approach in the Jardine fight, and I don't expect he'll get tricked by Rashad's telegraphed feints and get put on his ass.  Rashad's speed advantage is mitigated by his jumpy footwork, and I'd be surprised if we see him integrate his wrestling heavily back into his overall game.  I want to go out on a limb and make this a multi-unit play, but being one of the few (only?) people heavily backing Thiago cautions me to recommend this as a one unit play.

It's been a terribly busy day/week for me, so I'm putting this main event up now.  Expect the Daley/Hazelett and dos Santos/Yvel fights later tonight or early in the morning.

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Dustin Hazelett

#16 Welterweight

 

vs.

Paul Daley

#10 Welterweight

-115 (BODOG)

Best Line

+105 (5DIMES)

23

Age

26

6'1"

Height

5'9"

12 - 4 - 0

Record

22 - 8 - 2

1 / 8

TKO / SUB

17 / 1

Team Jorge Gurgel

Camp

Team Rough House

W - McCrory (SUB)
W - Burkman (SUB)
L - Koscheck (TKO)

Last Three

W - Kampmann (TKO)
W - Barata (KO)
W - Kerpe (KO)

I've hemmed and hawed about this fight since I started my research, and I still am not completely confident going either way.  There's enough deterrents on either side (Hazelett's striking makes me cringe and Daley hasn't proven he can do anything on the floor), but I like Hazelett here for a few reasons. 1) Daley's hype train is in full effect after the trainwreck he put on Martin Kampmann's face.  2) Daley's inability to make weight and NSAC not allowing him to lose the pound over health concerns is concerning.  3) Daley is a full four inches shorter than Hazelett and will be giving up a bunch of reach.  And most importantly, 4) the Thompson and Shields fights.

Of course, Daley could come out, blast Hazelett straight in the face, and that will be that.  Daley's not a very multi-dimensional fighter, but he is very, very effective at the one dimension he's good at.  I just see Daley having a much more difficult time achieving his goals given the physical advantages Hazelett possesses.  Take Dustin for a small half-unit play.

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