UFC 92 is probably the most anticipated MMA event in 2008. Many people are looking forward to Rampage/Wandy 3, and Nogueira/Mir. However, it's the Griffin/Evan's match up that has intrigued me the most. That fight has so many variables and unknowns, it's the most difficult fight on the card to predict. So what we are going to do here at MMA4Real is breakdown the fight variable by variable to determine who and how they can win this fight. Let's get right into it:
Striking-There isn't a large gap between the two fighters in terms of who has better striking. Actually, they both have fairly different styles of striking. Forrest probably does a better job of mixing leg kicks in with his boxing, and Rashad has the edge in speed and power while relying more on his boxing than leg kicks. Forrest is the larger man and will enjoy a reach advantage, but Evan's has shown he is more than capable of negating an opponents size and reach. I like to call Forrest the Joe Calzaghe of MMA, as he seems to just try to overwhelm his opponents with the sheer volume of punches and kicks he throws. However, Forrest lacks KO power while Rashad has shown that he has the ability to end a fight with a punch or kick.
Wrestling-Rashad clearly enjoys the edge here as far as take downs are concerned, but Griffin has good take down defense in his own right. Griffin likes to utilize leg trips to get the fight to the mat, whereas Evans is the more traditional single/double leg guy. If Rashad decides to take Forrest down, I think he'll be able to do it.
BJJ-Griffin has the edge here, as Evans prefers to dish out small amounts of punishment from inside his opponents guard while rarely trying to pass the guard. We've never really seen Evans on his back for long periods of time. However, Griffin is comfortable from his back or from top position. Griffin is more of a threat to end the fight via submission than Evans is, but Evans has pretty good sub defense as well. If taken down, Griffin may be able to use his underrated BJJ game to improve position or sweep Evans. Although I don't know if he'll be successful, simply because Evan's doesn't take many chances in terms of passing the guard and has a very solid base.
Muay Thai-Neither guy are big on using Muay Thai, although it's possible that Forrest will try to implement it at some point because of his height advantage via use of the Thai plum.
Cardio-The X-Factor. We know that Forrest Griffin can go all 5 rounds at a very high work rate. Unless he's KTFO, he's going to be there at the end of 25 minutes. We know that Rashad can go 15 minutes and look winded at times. This could quite possibly be the biggest variable of them all. Can Rashad withstand the pace that Forrest fights at? What type of game plan will he and his camp try to implement to combat it? If Rashad comes into the fight in shape and able to go all 25 minutes, we could have an absolute classic fight on our hands.
Chin-Both guys have serviceable chins. I would give the edge to Evans here though, as I don't ever recall seeing him rocked in a fight. He ate shots from Liddell, and earlier in his career ate a head kick from Stephan Bonnar and it didn't seem to bother him much at all. Griffin has suffered a KO loss to Keith Jardine, and was dropped by Rampage but was able to quickly recover against him. Evans definitely possesses the power to stop Griffin, although I don't think Griffin is capable of the same. If Griffin stops Evans it'll have more to do with Evans gassing/cardio moreso than his power.
Fight Camp-Evans has the edge here simply because he will enjoy advice from Keith Jardine for the second fight in a row. Jardine has a KO win over Griffin 2 years ago at UFC 66. It must be noted that Griffin has a much different style nowadays though. Griffin will be able to pick the brain of ex-collegiate wrestler Randy Couture as well as Stephan Bonnar, who has lost to Evans in the past.
Griffin Keys To Victory-Find his range, and keep the pace up the entire time. The longer the fight goes the more it favors Griffin. He should surprise Evans with a couple of take down attempts of his own(using leg trips). Wrestlers hate being on their backs, and we haven't seen Evans there much at all. A successful take down would open up the striking game for Griffin as well.
Evans Keys To Victory-Come into the fight in shape first and foremost. During the fight, be patient and keep the fight standing while attacking the legs of Griffin when he gets in range. Damaging his legs slows his mobility and also makes him susceptible to the take down as Griffin has a good sprawl. Take the take down only if it's available, but don't be overreliant on it as it zaps energy quickly against a larger opponent like Griffin. Evans can win a stand up fight as his boxing is very underrated, and yes I was saying this BEFORE the Liddell KO.
I'm still torn on who I'm going to pick in this match up. However, be sure to check back with MMA4Real as we do predictions for the UFC 92 card next week. In the meantime, who do have winning this fight?