Josh Gross
Sunday January 3rd, 2010

Five things we learned from Saturday night's UFC 108 in Las Vegas:

1. When he fights aggressively, Rashad Evans is terrific.

Watching Evans mix up his wrestling and striking against Thiago Silva, the thought crossed my mind that if he fought this way all the time, Evans, a former UFC light heavyweight champion, could make himself as difficult to deal with as his training partner Georges St. Pierre. That's pretty good.

Evans (14-1-1) confounded Silva (14-2) in rounds one and two. He pushed forward with strikes, moved into the clinch, dropped down for double- and single-leg takedowns. He forced the heavy-hitting Brazilian to react rather than attack, and it worked beautifully. It helped that Silva only moved straight back and refused to change angles or step to the side. But that was due more to Evans' speed, which is too much for most light heavyweights, especially when he refuses to make himself one dimensional.

In the third, Evans wasn't nearly as aggressive and he paid for it. Perhaps it was a reaction to being up on the cards. Whatever the reason, when made the mistake of slowing down, Silva settled down. The 27-year-old Brazilian began to sit on his punches, and eventually one landed, giving him a glimpse at the fight.

Evans possesses many gifts, but his success in the cage will be determined by tactics. When he pushes forward with speed and power, there aren't many 205-pound mixed martial artists who can handle him.

2. Evans versus "Rampage" is a go

When Evans took a stiff right hand with two minutes remaining in the third round, it appeared for a moment as if he was going to squander a decision victory and the payoff of a major fight against Quinton Jackson.

Yet Silva let Evans off the hook, the decision went to the former UFC light heavyweight champion, and the UFC secured a major bout to promote later in the year.

With a release date of June 11, "The A-Team," which features Jackson in the role of B.A. Baracus, may absorb a significant portion of the first half of Jackson's year. But with the bout on again, a mid-to-late summer event, which would seem to capitalize on the momentum of the movie, makes sense.

3. Junior dos Santos is the top UFC heavyweight prospect

The UFC made great strides improving its heavyweight talent over the past three years. While the promotion failed to land Fedor Emelianenko, veteran imports and emerging talent have come together to bolster a division in desperate need of a facelift after championship bouts featuring the likes of Tim Sylvia and Jeff Monson.

2010 should deliver quite a payoff. With due respect to undefeated Cain Velasquez, the best heavyweight prospect in mixed martial arts is 25-year-old Brazilian slugger Junior dos Santos.

Kicking off the pay-per-view portion of UFC 108, dos Santos was paired with veteran Dutch striker Gilbert Yvel. The UFC sold Yvel (36-14-1, 1 NC) hard in his debut with the organization as some sort of star in Japan during his time in the Pride organization. He never was, no matter how one defines it. Holes remain in his game, and he has never faired well against his toughest opposition.

So why was I so impressed with "Cigano" Saturday? He gave Yvel no quarter. There wasn't an ounce of respect shown for a knockout artist responsible for dynamic finishes during his career. It was with that same attitude that dos Santos (10-1) walloped Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic, smeared Stefan Struve, and pounded Fabricio Werdum inside the UFC.

It's well known dos Santos won't fight the man that discovered him, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. Should "Minotauro" derail Velasquez in February, dos Santos will be forced to take a back seat as the Brazilian legend makes another run at a title. However, if Velasquez remains perfect after facing Nogueira, a bout pitting him and dos Santos would settle any lingering questions. At the moment, dos Santos appears to have the brightest future.

4. Don't stand in front of Paul Daley

OK, this isn't something anyone learned tonight. You'd be hard pressed to find a welterweight unaware of 26-year-old Paul Daley's striking prowess. Yet for some reason they keep standing in front of him.

In his UFC debut against Martin Kampmann last September, "Semtex" blasted out a first round TKO. Then against submission wizard Dustin Hazelett on Saturday, the Brit happily dealt with an opponent who didn't even feign an interest in going to the floor. Ask Daley what he'd like to do most in a fight, and exchanging left hooks might be at the top of the list. Doing so against weak-punching submission fighters certainly would. Incredibly, this is the approach fighters in the UFC have taken against Daley even though Nick Thompson out-wrestled him to a decision 11 months ago, and Jake Shields had his way with Daley before finishing him with an armbar in October 2008.

Welterweights in the UFC take heed: stand with Daley (23-8-3) at your own risk. Thompson didn't and won. Shields too.

Daley may have worked to improve his takedown defense, but there's no point in giving the guy a pass. Until he defeats a submission-savvy wrestler, I have a hard time considering him a legitimate top 10 welterweight, even if most rankings place him there now. A win over the likes of Josh Koscheck, Jon Fitch, shoot, even Jake Ellenberger or Mike Pierce, would be more than enough to convince me. Until then, he's a dangerous, one dimensional fighter.

5. UFC 108 will be remembered as one of year's best

To say UFC 108 suffered from poor luck would be like suggesting Brock Lesnar is a big guy. It may be true, but hardly does justice to the reality of the situation. I can't recall a fight card that went through as many combinations and permutations as the one Saturday.

When fight night rolled around, the right style fights combined with late replacements ensured quality action. The undercard certainly delivered with furious and violent stoppages. When Sam Stout and Joe Lauzon went at it for three competitive rounds, UFC 108 verged on very good. All that was needed was a quality main event, and for my money it was. A full-year's worth of fights may leave UFC 108 behind, but for now it seems destined to be at least mentioned among 2010's most fun.

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide - from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Seth Davis, and more - delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.