Despite a laundry list of substitutions and injuries, UFC 133: Evans vs. Ortiz still made good on their delivery of entertaining fights. Philadelphia saw “age” meet “experience” in the card’s opener. An upcoming middleweight stepped up to the main card to face a veteran in his quest to establish himself in the UFC. Two seasoned fighters in the welterweight division added another notch in their combined 100+ fight career. The co-main event truly played into the phrase, “don’t blink” as two 185lbs. contenders collided. In the main event, two former light heavyweight champions met again after their first fight in 2007, only this time with serious title implications for the victor. Now that all has been said and done, here is a recap of UFC 133’s main card and possible match-ups that could be seen for those who had their hand raised.
“Aries” Rory MacDonald (12-1) defeats “Quicksand” Mike Pyle (21-7-1) via Technical Knockout (Strikes), Round 1, 3:54
In a battle of youth versus experience, it was youth that prevailed when Rory MacDonald reigned supreme over veteran of the sport, Mike Pyle. MacDonald was able to ward off any takedown attempts the veteran tried to mount by effective threat of submission and superior striking. Any concerns regarding MacDonald as a fighter was clearly answered when he stopped Pyle within the closing moments of the first round with an atrocious ground-and-pound attack that left the veteran turtled-up, prompting the referee to call the fight to an end.
Rory MacDonald has definitely put the welterweight division on notice. Considering he is only 22-years-old and has been dominant in all of his UFC performances which include his defeat to “The Natural Born Killer” Carlos Condit (27-5), the thought that he has yet to hit his prime is a hard pill to swallow. Already proving to be a well-rounded fighter, a match-up with upcoming prospects and fellow wrestlers Johny Hendricks (11-1) or possibly Jake Ellenberger (24-5) could be on the horizon. “The Horror” Rick Story (11-3) would want to bounce back into title relevancy as soon as possible after his loss in June. Story is just as well-rounded as MacDonald and unrelenting when pushing action. Put these two in the cage and an all-out war can be promised.
Constantinos Philippou (8-2) defeats “El Conquistador” Jorge Rivera (18-9) via Split Decision
Split decisions have the underlying meaning that while any fighter could have won the fight, the battle as a whole was either “one to remember” or “decent”, to be nice. The latter holds true in this case. Each man had their fair share of moments in the fight such as Rivera’s boxing to rally him back into the fight in the third round or Philippou’s attempt to win via Omaplata submission in the second round. Scores of 29-28 read through the judges’ scorecards and it was Philippou reigning supreme as he won his first fight within the Octagon.
The fight might not have been the most exciting one on the card but it did provide an ample amount of action to please even the slightest of casual fans. Unfortunately for Philippou, he did not provide a solid case for himself to step up in competition even though he took a fight with Rivera on short notice. This stand-still should not be taken too negatively as it gives Philippou a chance to go back and work on any loose ends that presented themselves against Rivera. Until then, perhaps submission artist Jesse Bongfeldt (15-5-1) or even striker “Legionarius” Alessio Sakara (15-8) can be waiting in the weeds for Philippou. Where Philippou goes from here might not be so clear but here is a period where he needs to really craft his game.
“Bad Boy” Brian Ebersole (40-14-1) defeats “Superman” Dennis Hallman (45-14-2) via Technical Knockout (Elbows), Round 1, 4:28
This match-up had “Fight of the Night” potential all over it when these two fighters, who collectively have over 100 fights, stepped in against each other Saturday night. Immediately, Hallman seized Ebersole’s back and reinforce why he is one of the sport’s most dangerous submission specialists. “Superman” nearly had the fight won in two different attempts, but Ebersole’s ability to posture control Hallman’s wrists on the Rear Naked Choke and posturing against his Guillotine helped him survive. After landing a solid hammer fist on the ground, Ebersole unleashed an unforgiving flurry of ground-and-pound to stop Hallman and earn his second UFC victory.
Ebersole is skilled, colorful, and showing why he should have been signed with the organization years ago. After dominant back-to-back performances, the only direction for Ebersole to go from here is up. It might be a big leap in competition but “The Pitbull” Thiago Alves (17-8) or “The Hitman” Martin Kampmann (17-5) could collide with the “Bad Boy”. Ebersole dealt with “Lights Out” Chris Lytle’s (30-18-5) boxing and Hallman’s grappling exceptionally well. While both Alves and Kampmann are just as tested as Ebersole, they are both a few years younger unlike Lytle and Hallman who are at high age for this sport. With youth and vitality amongst either pairing, another spectacular fight in any aspect can be seen.
“The Phenom” Vitor Belfort (20-9) defeats “Sexyama” Yoshihiro Akiyama (14-5) via Knockout (Punches), Round 1, 1:52
It is unfortunate for a highly respected and entertaining fighter like Akiyama to suffer his third loss in a row with the UFC, as a pink slip or the pressure to change weight classes is bound to follow. But when being the recipient of punches that only Vitor Belfort can deliver, a short night is virtually guaranteed. The opening stanza started off with both fighters treading carefully and respecting the other. After a left hand grazed and stunned Akiyama, Belfort came in unloading piston-esque punches that left the Japanese mainstay out cold on the mat in less than two minutes of the first round.
The clear question: “Does Vitor get a rematch with ‘The Spider’ Anderson Silva?” The answer for now will be simple: “no.” After a technical knockout loss to Silva at UFC 126 that is still getting heavy acclaim from YouTube junkies to legends of the sport, Belfort still has a ways to go to prove that he is still “The Phenom”. Fortunately for him, being the most recent challenger for the 185lbs. division belt grants him some leeway into title shots provided he keeps his performance up. Belfort might very well see “The Filipino Wrecking Machine” Mark Munoz (9-2) or “The Crippler” Chris Leben (22-8) after their fight at UFC 138. Both men hold heavy power in their hands that will keep Vitor’s knockout power in check but more importantly, a win for either leaves them in prime position for the #1 contender spot. Do not count out “All-American” Brian Stann (11-3). Since coming down to the middleweight division, Stann has been at a tear and a convincing win at UFC 136 could give him some pull into fighting the top contenders such as Belfort.
“Sugar” Rashad Evans (16-1-1) defeats “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” Tito Ortiz (16-9-1) via Technical Knockout (Knee to the Body and Punches), Round 2, 4:48
Had it not been for a point deduction to play into a Draw, Tito Ortiz would have entered this rematch with Evans with one fight over him. UFC 73 marked when these two former champions met and it was Ortiz establishing himself as the better fighter in striking and wrestling. Four years later at UFC 133, the fight drew out much like the first only this time Rashad Evans was the one in the driver seat. The opening frame saw Ortiz achieve the takedown but Evans was able to get the fight back onto his feet where he outstruck Ortiz significantly before taking him down and continuing the onslaught. Ortiz tried to make lightning strike twice when he had Evans in the very Guillotine Choke that he defeated “Darth” Ryan Bader (12-2) at UFC 132 but was unable to fully secure the neck, allowing Evans to escape. After much transitioning on the ground, Ortiz trying to plant a submission and Evans achieving the mounted crucifix, Evans landed a devastating knee to the midsection of Ortiz, putting him on the ground and prompting the referee to save him from any further ground-and-pound Evans was delivering immediately after.
Ring rust was no factor at all for Evans and although he was absent for over a year, he showed that he can effectively combine all elements of MMA together in order to get the job done. It is no surprise that Evans is getting his title shot against the victor between the winner of current light heavyweight champ “Bones” Jon Jones (13-1) or “Rampage” Quinton Jackson (30-8). In this love/hate triangle of sorts, any fight that is set up is sure to lead into a huge draw for the UFC and settle any vendettas between either fighter. Evans is undersized to both Jackson and Jones but if he can continue to play his game fluidly, he can very well see that belt around his waist for a second time.
As for Tito Ortiz, he should not hang his head too low after this bout. He came in fighting and simply put, he was outclassed. Perhaps he was not able to truly recover after his fight with Ryan Bader at UFC 132 and age is slowly creeping behind, or he just may have got the bad luck of the draw. No matter, “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” proved he can still handle himself in the Octagon and has a few more good fights left in him before choosing to hang up his gloves. His next fight could be against “Ace” Rich Franklin (27-6) who is still fresh after being pulled off the card or “Lil’ Nog” Antonio Rogerio Nogueria (18-5) if he recovers timely from his shoulder injury. Franklin and Nogueria have the stand-up that fans love to see and the ground game that will keep even the most casual fan watching. Talks of a title might not be involved with this set up but nobody will ever walk away from watching two potential UFC Hall of Famers go at it.
Click here for the full list of UFC 133 results and bonuses.