The Weekly Wrap: Jan. 2 - Jan. 8

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By Jack Encarnacao Jan 9, 2010
The Weekly Wrap walks readers through the last seven days in MMA, recapping and putting into context the week's top story, important news and notable quotes.

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The card may have been reshuffled more than any in Ultimate Fighting Championship history, but UFC 108 on Jan. 2 still delivered an action-packed start to 2010.

The 10-fight bill saw only three fights go the distance, which included the “Fight of the Night” and a strategic yet dramatic win by Rashad Evans in the main event. Evans acted on his pre-fight pledge to return to his wrestling against Thiago Silva, as the former NCAA All-American used his punch speed to close the distance and drop Silva with persistent takedowns in the first two rounds.

Evans, who earlier that day was awarded his Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt by Rolles Gracie, did not have much success maintaining position on Silva, who rose to his feet several times. All told, Evans hit eight takedowns in the fight but only landed three punches on the ground, according to Fight Metric. In a heated third frame, Silva dropped his hands in an attempt to bait Evans into a firefight, but fatigue looked to prevent the Brazilian from closing in after landing a solid right hand. Silva’s manager told MMAJunkie.com after the fight that a back injury prevented Silva him from drilling wrestling and takedown defense.

Evans, coming off his coaching stint on “The Ultimate Fighter 10,” was booed loudly as a decision in his favor was read, a unanimous 29-28 nod. UFC President Dana White said Evans’ fight with archrival Quinton Jackson would take place in May, likely the same card as the Lyoto Machida-Mauricio Rua rematch expected May 1 in Montreal. Evans earned an event-high $375,000 disclosed purse for the win; Silva took home $55,000.

UFC 108 drew 13,225 to the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, which translated into an approximate $2 million gate, one of the lower takes the UFC has had at the venue. White said at the post-fight press conference that he thought the card would do 400,000 to 500,000 buys on pay-per-view, the higher end of what UFC cards did in the final quarter of 2009.

British slugger Paul Daley stepped into the spotlight on the card, following up a pre-fight trash-talking campaign with a vicious knockout of Dustin Hazelett. Daley earned a $50,000 bonus for the performance, which saw Daley floor Hazelett with a well-timed left hook in the first after Hazelett stepped in with a jab. Heavy punches on the floor sealed the win.

The knockout, which left Hazelett with an orbital bone injury and nasal fractures, made the "Top Plays" segment on ESPN's Sportscenter Monday morning. After the win, Daley made hand gestures to Hazelett and his corner like he was shooting an imaginary gun, behavior he said was sparked by pre-fight remarks Hazelett’s trainer Dorian Price had made. Daley apologized for the display in his post-fight interview with Joe Rogan. White said Daley would likely face Josh Koscheck or Jon Fitch next to determine the next contender for the welterweight title.

The evening’s “Fight of the Night” bonuses went to Joe Lauzon and Sam Stout, as the lightweights' contrasting styles made for great action. In notching the decision, Stout looked his sharpest to date, executing his trainer's striking instructions perfectly, punctuating punching flurries with kicks, and showing better cardio. Also making their mark on the main card were Jim Miller, who used an armbar to tap veteran Duane Ludwig, and Junior dos Santos, who used a left hook to dispatch Gilbert Yvel at heavyweight. White said Dos Santos would be in line for a title shot if he knocked out Yvel impressively.

A preliminary card special on Spike TV featured the night's best submission, as Cole Miller tapped Dan Lauzon with a combination triangle choke and kimura. While they both lost, the Lauzons can still lay claim to being the only brothers to ever compete on the same UFC card. Also making the Spike broadcast was Martin Kampmann's knockout of Jacob Volkmann, Mark Munoz's ground-and pound-stoppage of Ryan Jensen, and Jake Elllenberger's second-round TKO of Mike Pyle. Those fights also aired during the pay-per-view broadcast. Not making air was Rafaello Oliveira's takedown-heavy decision over John Gunderson.

The Spike prelims drew an average of 1.5 million viewers on Spike TV, a tick higher than the audience of 1.4 million past specials have drawn. A “Countdown” special on Spike the week before UFC 108 drew 559,000 viewers, according to MMAPayout.com, down from the 618,000 drawn by the UFC 107 special.

White, who equated fan dissatisfaction with the UFC 108 lineup with direct insults on the featured fighters, said none of the fighters who competed on the card would be released from their contracts. The talent-heavy promotion has made a practice of pruning fighters who lose soundly and don’t show potential to one day challenge for a title.
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