LAS VEGAS – Thiago Silva nearly knocked out former light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans with a pair of crushing right hands midway through the third round of their fight Saturday in the main event of UFC 108 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
Silva, though, did precious little other than that, particularly in the first two rounds, and that cost him a potential victory.
Evans (14-1-1) won the first two rounds and Silva (14-2) took the third, but Evans won a unanimous-decision victory, earning 29-28 scores from all three judges.
The former champ used his wrestling and his movement to keep Silva off-balance for most of the first two rounds. Silva never seemed to be able to mount much offense and Evans took him down repeatedly.
But the fight turned dramatically in the third. Silva connected with a pair of hard right hands as they were fighting near the fence and it was clear that Evans, who had been knocked out by Lyoto Machida in May at UFC 98 to drop the title, was in danger.
Silva, though, made a huge mistake by not pressing and going for the finish. Evans took a long time to gain his bearings and fought the final minute or so very defensively, hoping to let the clock run out.
Evans said after the fight that he's looking forward to a bout with another former champion, archrival Quinton "Ranpage" Jackson. The men were supposed to meet after coaching on Season 10 of "The Ultimate Fighter," but Jackson opted to make a movie instead.
Jackson, though, has returned to the UFC, and Evans said Saturday he hopes that bout can be made.
In the co-main event, welterweight Paul Daley caught Dustin Hazelett with a counter left hook that dropped the submission artist on his back. Daley went after him on the ground though he didn't need to, because Hazelett was finished.
In his over-exuberant celebration, Daley, who now has two first-round KOs in his two UFC fights, mimed that he had a gun and shot at the downed Hazelett, which he later apologized for doing.
Sam Stout and Joe Lauzon put on an awesome, high-energy performance on the undercard, but Stout was a little better in all areas and pulled out a unanimous decision in their lightweight match.
Lauzon cut Stout on the forehead with an elbow and then nearly tore his arm out of the socket with a kimura attempt. The two rolled around the cage while Lauzon kept ahold of the submission attempt.
Eventually, Stout got out and dominated most of the fight from that point forward. Asked what he was thinking as Lauzon was going for the submission, Stout beamed.
"Damn, he has my arm," Stout said. "I started rolling, twisting and turning. Luckily, I got out of it."
Stout called it a great fight and most of the crowd seemed to agree, roaring with approval when it ended.
"I had a lot of fun doing it," Stout said.
Jim Miller was impressive in a first-round submission victory over heavy-handed Duane Ludwig. Miller knocked Ludwig down and then wasted no time slapping on an armbar. Ludwig tapped at 2:31.
"I train to get better every day," Miller said. "That's my trick; I train to get better."
Heavyweight Junior dos Santos continued his march toward a title shot with a first-round knockout of former PRIDE fighter Gilbert Yvel.
After a good flurry seconds earlier, dos Santos dodged a left by Yvel and countered with a counter left on the chin that sent Yvel thudding to the mat. Dos Santos wasted no time in pouncing on him, and he finished Yvel with a brutal ground and pound.
Referee Herb Dean saved Yvel at 2:07 of the first round.
"I love this," dos Santos said in the cage after the bout. "I love to be a fighter."
Another man who showed his love for combat Saturday was lightweight Cole Miller, who bested Dan Lauzon in an entertaining bout on the preliminary card. Lauzon, returning to the UFC for the first time since 2006, knocked Miller down hard, which Miller didn't remember later.
But Miller showed his submission skills, quickly maneuvering for a kimura from an inverted triangle.
"I attribute all of my success to my family at American Top Team," Miller said. "I come in here and I don't say I'm going to win every fight, but I will fight every fight. I'm not afraid to lose. I'm not afraid to die. I don't lose two in a row. It's not what I do. I wasn't going to lose tonight."
Martin Kampmann submitted two-time All-American wrestler Jacob "Christmas" Volkmann with a slick guillotine. Volkmann was surprisingly landing strikes when Kampmann countered and knocked Volkmann down.
Kampmann quickly managed to get the guillotine.
"He caught me with too many punches," Kampmann said later. "I thought he was going to try to clinch and try and take me down. I was a little cautious in the beginning and he caught me with a few good shots. But I'm happy I got the win."
After a good first round spent largely on the ground, Jake Ellenberger asserted his power early in Round 2 of his fight with Mike Pyle. He caught Pyle with a right hand that sent Pyle to the canvas in a heap. Ellenberger dove in and got the finish at the 22-second mark with some good ground and pound.
Mark Munoz used his ground and pound to finish Ryan Jensen in the first round. Rafaello Oliveira won a slow unanimous decision over John Gunderson in the first fight of the night.