By Thomas Gerbasi
LAS VEGAS, January 2 – For much of their UFC 108 main event Saturday night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, Rashad Evans dominated Thiago Silva behind effective wrestling and Octagon control. But for a few moments in the final round, Silva had victory within reach thanks to his right hand, only to let it slip away behind some ill-advised showboating that allowed Evans to recover, get to the end of the bout, and earn the three round unanimous decision win.
Scores were 29-28 across the board for Evans, who won his first bout since losing his UFC light heavyweight crown to Lyoto Machida last May by going back to his wrestling roots.
“I got away from it (wrestling) a bit because I had success doing other things,” said Evans. “It was difficult, but I stuck with the gameplan.”
Watch post-fight interview
Evans tore after Silva at the bell, closing the distance quickly and tying his foe up against the fence. Within 40 seconds, Evans had slammed Silva to the mat and he moved into full mount. Silva fought his way loose though, and got back to his feet. Evans stayed close with his foe against the fence, eventually breaking off in order to trade with Silva before scoring with another takedown. Again, Silva rose to his feet, but he was unable to get his rhythm while standing. With under a minute to go, Evans flurried against the fence and followed up with a takedown, solidifying the round for himself.
Evans began the second round like he did the first, and with the same result. Silva was a little more active while pinned against the fence, but when the two broke, his kick was caught by Evans, who dumped him on the canvas. After Silva rose, he was taken down again, and though he got back up immediately, the frustration was evident on his face. To his credit, Silva kept stalking, trying to make something happen, but whenever he got careless defensively, Evans took him down, piling up points in the process.
Little changed in round three, with Evans again controlling matters with his takedowns and Octagon control. With under three minutes left, Silva started playing to the crowd and showboating in an effort to get Evans to stand and trade with him, but the former champion wouldn’t bite, Silva bit back hard though, rocking Evans badly with a right to the head and following up with more strikes as Evans staggered and tried to clear his head. Unfortunately for the Brazilian, his continued showboating gave Evans the time he needed to get his bearings back, and he was able to pin Silva against the fence in the final minute and keep him there until the bell sounded.
“It was a good shot,” said Evans of the initial right that hurt him in the final round. “I got lazy in the third and I paid for it.”
With the win, Evans improves to 19-1-1; Silva falls to 14-2.