This Saturday, August 6th, the UFC takes over the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for UFC 133: Evans vs. Ortiz. Originally set to be a war between teammates-turned-rivals as Jon Jones defended his Light Heavyweight championship against Rashad Evans, it was then changed to a battle between wrestlers as Jones dropped out and Phil Davis filled in. It was then again changed to a rematch from four years ago as Davis had to withdraw and Tito Ortiz stepped up.
After seven fights having to be reshuffled due to fighters dropping out, the injury stricken card has finally been set. Let’s take a look at the main card and see how it breaks down.
The first fight of the PPV broadcast is a Welterweight contest between Rory “Ares” MacDonald (10-1) and former WEC Welterweight champion Mike “Quicksand’ Pyle (21-7-1). After losing the first fight of his career against Carlos Condit, Rory bounced right back and picked up a victory over the scrappy Nate Diaz. Pyle is currently riding a three-fight win streak and looks to make it four-in-a-row and move himself one step closer to a title shot with a win over MacDonald. Both men are pretty well-rounded fighters but have a strong grappling background that should make this bout interesting.
Next up is a Middleweight bout between “El Conquistador” Jorge Rivera (19-8) and Constantinos “Costa” Philippou (7-2). After Alessio Sakara was forced to withdraw with an ACL injury, the third failed attempt at a battle between him and Rivera went out the window and both fighters accepted that they just weren’t meant to fight. Both men are looking to keep their UFC careers alive and avoid back-to-back losses for the first time. With both guys earning the majority of their victories by way of KO/TKO, this could easily become a striking battle that should not reach the judges’ scorecards.
The next fight is a veteran battle between Dennis “Superman” Hallman (43-13-2) and “Bad Boy” Brian Ebersole (47-14-1) in the Welterweight division. With over a hundred combined fights between the two of them, they have seen just about everything inside the cage. Hallman is 8-2 in his last ten fights, while Ebersole is 9-1 in his last ten. Although Hallman is the better grappler, owning 38 submission victories, Ebersole possesses an “iron chin” and is the better-rounded fighter. In fact, Ebersole is so confident in his ability to take a punch he often shaves an arrow in his chest hair pointing to his chin “to let his opponent know where to hit him.”
The Co-Main Event of the evening features Vitor “The Phenom” Belfort (19-9) as he takes on Yoshihiro “Sexyama” Akiyama (13-3) in the Middleweight division. Belfort is coming of the devastating knockout loss to champion Anderson Silva, while Akiyama is coming off back-to-back losses to Michael Bisping and Chris Leben. Another loss for Akiyama could result is his walking papers, while another loss for Belfort could all but kiss any championship hopes goodbye. Although Akiyama is 1-2 in his last three, he has earned a Fight of the Night bonus in each of those bouts. Going up against Belfort’s in-your-face fighting style, a fourth bonus could very well be possible.
The Main Event of the evening is a rematch between former Light Heavyweight champions “Suga” Rashad Evans (15-1-1) and “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” Tito Ortiz (16-8-1). Other than the lone loss to Lyoto Machida, Evans’ fight with Ortiz is the only other blemish on his nearly perfect record. In their first fight, Ortiz would have taken a 29-28 victory but was deducted a point for grabbing the cage and causing a 28-28 draw instead. With both fighters being prominent wrestlers, it could be the striking that separates the winner from the loser. In Evans’ last fight against Rampage, he won it with his wrestling and ability to keep Rampage grounded. In Ortiz’ last fight, he shocked the world by dropping Ryan Bader with an uppercut and then finishing him off with a guillotine choke. What makes this fight interesting is that Evans will be coming off a fifteen-month layoff due to wanting to wait to face Shogun while he recovered from a knee injury and then suffering a knee injury of his own. Ortiz on the other hand, will be coming in on just a few weeks’ notice. With over-training and under-training a possibility for either fighter, Ortiz vs. Evans II could be really great or really boring.