The current form of the UFC 133 card to be held on August 6th in Philladelphia, Pennsylvania, isn’t the card fans thought they would be seeing when the UFC announced they were coming back to the City of Brotherly Love. Despite the setbacks due to the numerous injuries to fighters, UFC 133 still features some interesting match-ups that could determine #1 contenders or feature upsets that could throw a monkey wrench in the division.
Here are the Top 5 most intriguing match-ups according to this writer for UFC 133.
1. Rashad Evans vs Tito Ortiz: Originally slated to fight current Light Heavyweight Champion and former Jackson Submission Fighting teammate Jon Jones, Evans has gone through two opponent changes so far, with Jones being pulled out due to injury as well as former Penn State wrestling National Champion, Phil Davis. Evans goes from a Light Heavyweight Championship fight to now securing his spot as the #1 contender after Rampage Jackson when he takes on his current opponent Tito Ortiz in a re-match of their 2007 fight. Tito Ortiz could surely throw a wrench in any championship plans and shake up the division with another win over a top ranked guy in the UFC’s Light Heavyweight division. Tito will fight against just a little over a month after he upset TUF winner Ryan Bader via submission in the first round, securing his job after dropping three straight and having not won a fight since his win over Ken Shamrock in 2006. Tito is hungry and feels he could still make a run at the title and gaining a win over Rashad could throw him high up the ladder in the UFC Light Heavyweight Division. For Rashad, a win secures his spot against the winner of Jones/Rampage which is set to take place at UFC 135.
2. Yoshihiro Akiyama vs Vitor Belfort: Japan’s Akiyama could be fighting for his UFC career and Brazil’s Vitor Belfort will look to bounce back after his last loss when these two meet in the Co-Main event of the event. Nicknamed Sexyama, Yoshihiro Akiyama burst onto the UFC scene defeating Alan Belcher in an entertaining fight at UFC 100. Akiyama would suffer his first official loss in 5 years to Chris Leben who submitted him with just 20 seconds left in the 3rd round of their fight, following that up with a loss to Michael Bisping at UFC 120. Dropping three straight in the UFC is usually a sign of getting cut and Akiyama will need to bring his “A” game against Belfort. In the other corner, the former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion and UFC 12 Heavyweight Tournament winner will look to rebound from his KO loss to Anderson Silva for the Middleweight title back at UFC 126. It was Belforts first bout in nearly a year and half and his first loss since 2007. Belfort is looking to get back into the title picture and with a win over Akiyama, it could put him on the short list of fighters to challenge for the strap. Belfort is rarely in a boring fight and Akiyama has earned Fight of the Night for every fight he has been in, which surely favors this being a fun fight for the fans.
3. Jorge Rivera vs Alessio Sakara: The UFC and MMA fans may be bidding fair-well to Jorge Rivera at the end of this fight, who has stated he may retire due to his age. This fight has been scheduled numerous times since 2010, with both fighters having to pull out due to injuries. The two strikers will now collide in Philly with the full expectation that fight probably won’t hit the ground at any point. Between the two fighters, they have 22 KOs in 34 wins, so an entertaining stand-up fight should be expected. While both guys have shown skills in other areas, their stand-up has been their bread and butter and should this fight go the distance, it’s safe to say that it should be a war from bell to bell.
4. Chad Mendes vs Rani Yahya: Mendes was originally slated to fight Jose Aldo for the UFC Featherweight Championship, but Aldo would not be recovered from his injuries in time for the fight. Instead, Mendes will look to secure his spot for the Featherweight Championship when he takes on veteran Rani Yahya. Mendes has yet to drop a fight in his professional career, winning his first 10 fights with notable wins over Omigawa, Javier Vazquez, and Erik Koch. A win could set up a date with either Jose Aldo or Kenny Florian in the future. Rani Yahya made his Featherweight division return when he took on Mike Brown at UFC Fight Night for the Troops, winning a decision over the former champion. The 2007 ADCC -65kg Champion will look to spoil the impressive run of Mendes and move himself further up the Featherweight rankings. Like UFC 133′s Main Event, both fighters would benefit greatly with a win that would shoot them up the rankings or secure a future title shot.
5. Mike Brown vs Nam Phan: Coming off the Ultimate Fighter 12, Phan wanted to prove that he belonged on the big stage and proved it he did, despite losing a controversial decision to Leonard Garcia is his UFC debut. Spending the majority of his career at Lightweight, Phan has fought for several organizations before dropping down to Featherweight and entering the Sengoku Featherweight tournament, losing in the 2nd round to Omigawa. Phan missed out on his chance for redemption against Garcia, having to pull out of their UFC Fight Night 24 meeting due to injury. His first fight in 7 month, Phan will take on the former champion who is in desperate need of a win, Mike Brown. Brown has dropped two straight fights and is 2-3 since dropping his championship to Jose Aldo at WEC 44. A loss here could not only set Brown further back, but it could signify the end of the featherweight’s UFC career. Both fighters are entertaining fan favorites and are both hungry for that win in the UFC. A Facebook Prelim fight, the fight should be entertaining, and with both looking for a desperate win, could lead to some action in the fight.