Rashad Evans and Thiago Silva are ready for their closeup. Next Saturday, January 2nd, Evans will headline the first major MMA event of 2010. By now everyone knows most of what there is to know about the rise to prominence of this former light heavyweight champion of the world. There were his early career wins and his appearance on TUF Season 2. Following his reality show appearance, Evans racked up a few wins in the Octagon. Then came his true coming out party: his impressive knockout of former champion Chuck Liddell in Atlanta. His subsequent championship victory over Forrest Griffin had him on top of the MMA world, only to see him lose the championship in his first defense. Now he's back and ready to take on a very dangerous opponent in Thiago Silva (complete with an interesting subplot considering Silva's recent destruction of Rashad's stablemate Keith Jardine). Although this has arguably been the most injury plagued UFC event in history, it does set up a golden opportunity for both Evans and Silva to make themselves more of a draw.
This will be Silva's first main event. Evans has now headlined against Liddell, Griffin and Machida. But this could possibly be the first time that he has headlined a pay-per-view event in which he is both the favorite and the significantly more famous fighter. Coming off a coaching stint on the most watched season of TUF ever, Evans is uniquely positioned to capitalize on a win at UFC 108. Quite simply it could be huge for him. I know that most aren't expecting very many pay-per-view buys at all for this event. But I'm thinking that it could perform better than most expect. After all, the B.J. Penn headlined UFC 107 allegedly did FAR more buys than many observers ever thought possible (reportedly 620,000!). Will Evans-Silva even come close to that? Maybe not. But I do think it will have a very respectable showing. Here you have two hungry, talented light heavyweights that are desperately seeking to capitalize on a rare UFC main event opportunity and throw their name back into the world championship mix. Silva is large, strong, aggressive and focused. Can he take the abuse needed, though, to pull off the biggest win of his career? Can Evans rebound from his first career setback and put to rest any doubts about his status as one of the world's top light heavyweights? Was it the UFC's first choice to main event this show? No. But I think that it very well could end up being a more entertaining fight for those fans that take the opportunity to watch it.