UFC 108 Prediction: Rashad Evans vs. Thiago Silva

We call this Saturday’s UFC 108 the “cursed card.” It seems every fighter remotely associated with it at any time – Lesnar, Carwin, Anderson Silva, Alves, Nogueira – succumbs to a freak injury or illness the moment you mention his name in the same breath as UFC 108.

Let’s hope we don’t jinx Rashad Evans and Thiago Silva by discussing their bout. They headline what has become a bland card but their fight does have a major impact on the light heavyweight contender picture. Here’s my prediction for the UFC 108 main event.

Rashad Evans (13-1-1) vs. Thiago Silva (14-1)

Rashad Evans and Thiago Silva’s only career losses came against Lyoto Machida; that’s where their similarities end.

Rashad showcased heavy hands when he dropped Chuck Liddell and ground-and-pounded Forrest Griffin but the truth is that he’s a wrestler first and his standup is a distant second. Trainer Greg Jackson has a knack for convincing his fighters to focus on their strengths, so we can expect Rashad to take this fight to the ground as quickly as he can. Though Thiago Silva has a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) black belt, he’s much more comfortable on his feet. Evans, who has a powerful Wrestling base, is the stronger man and will likely control Silva should he take him down successfully.

This matchup will ultimately come down to offense versus defense. Aside from Machida, Evans is arguably the best defensive fighter in the UFC’s light heavyweight division. He went undefeated in his first 14 pro fights largely because he was so good at evading and blocking strikes, minimizing the damage he took. Rashad’s defensive skills get a major test this Saturday since Thiago Silva is one of the most devastating offensive forces in MMA .  A Muay Thai killer who models himself after Wanderlei Silva, Thiago Silva approaches his fights with a singular game plan: walk forward and knock his opponent out via lethal punches, kicks, flying knees and clinch strikes.

As Silva proved in his last bout versus Keith Jardine, another Jackson disciple, he can overwhelm opponents. Considering that Rashad has the psychological hurdle of his first knockout loss to overcome, it’s possible that Silva could overwhelm Evans too. However, we shouldn’t underestimate Evans because of his recent loss. He knows what to expect form Silva and he’ll keep his hands up. Evans also still has fight-changing knockout power in his constantly cocked right hand – similar to that of Dan Henderson. Silva exposes himself during his flurries and could very well get caught.

This is a tough fight to predict given each guy’s talent but I like Rashad Evans to redeem himself. Once he gets Silva to the ground, I just don’t think Silva can get back up. I expect a ground-and-pound TKO.

Pick: Rashad Evans

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