Will Evans be apprehensive?
Ugly knockouts tend to take away delusions of invincibility: until you’ve been hammered, you might not believe you can be hammered. Rashad Evans had that mystery stripped away by Lyoto Machida in May: against Thiago Silva, another intimidating striker, he might back off where he’d normally wade in, take fewer chances than normal, or find himself unable to rip off the kind of offense needed for a decisive win. Better or worse, the Evans we see Saturday won’t be the same guy who walked in against Machida.
Is Daley the welterweight heavy hitter?
For all of the incredible, rounded talent on display at 170 lbs., the class lacks the kind of nervous-anticipation strikers housed at middleweight (Anderson Silva, Melvin Manhoef) or light heavyweight. Paul Daley, a U.K. Thai boxer, might be the best pure puncher in the division -- a fact that raises the stakes of any fight he’s in. Beating ground artist Dustin Hazelett means the difference between being a scary striker who can cope or excel with grappling (Silva) and a mauler who drowns on the mat (Manhoef).
Has Yvel paid his debt to the industry?
Gilbert Yvel’s mental miscalculations in the prizefight ring are well-documented. He once struck a referee (Yvel argues the official was acting in collusion with his opponent); he has repeatedly fouled fighters (raking Don Frye’s eyes, biting). He has behaved, in short, like a bit of a jerk.
The Nevada commission has granted Yvel a one-fight license, which some would argue is generous in light of past conduct. But Yvel has largely behaved himself in recent years, and it could be argued that anyone with newfound maturity shouldn’t be perpetually condemned for juvenile actions. Alternately, perhaps Dana White is hoping Yvel’s reputation will follow him, and he will crescent-kick Steve Mazzagatti into the ICU.
Can the UFC’s weakest headliner in months be buoyed by the brand?
The last major domestic UFC main event to completely fail to capture anyone’s imagination was a Quinton Jackson/Keith Jardine headliner in March 2009. Saturday’s Rashad Evans/Thiago Silva meeting promises to promote similar indifference: both are coming off violent, one-sided losses to Lyoto Machida -- though Silva squeezed in a win against Jardine -- making their pursuit of a Machida rematch mostly dull going. How many fans will tune in for a holiday weekend card based almost solely on the promise of UFC Actionâ„¢ is the question mark.