UFC 133 – Evans vs Ortiz

The sport of mixed martial arts is exploding all over the world, and UFC 133 will be another showcase of the talent these athletes possess.  UFC 133 will take place at the Wells Fargo Center August 6th in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  The headline fight will be a rematch between Rashad Evans and Tito Ortiz.  Their last fight in 2007 ended in a draw. We will break down this fight, as well as the other fights UFC President Dana White has put together for the main card at UFC 133 Evans vs Ortiz.

The main event – Light Heavyweight bout:  Rashad “Suga” Evans (20-1-1) vs Tito “Huntington Beach Bad Boy” Ortiz (17-8-1)

UFC Fighter Rashad EvansRashad Evans is one of those fighters that either you love or hate.  His showboating in the ring, and big mouth out of the ring have really separated the fans between those who root for him and those who don’t.

Evans was a heavyweight contender in The Ultimate Fighter 2, and ended up winning the competition and the six-figure contract to fight in the UFC. Prior to that, Evans was a two-time All-State wrestler and football player in high school.  After high school, Evans wrestled at Niagara County Community College, where he won the National Junior College championship.  That led him to transfer to Michigan State, where he continued to wrestle for three years.  After graduating college, Evans competed in five professional MMA fights which led him to being selected for The Ultimate Fighter television series.

Since his first fight with Ortiz back in ’07, Evans went on to win the UFC Light Heavyweight championship against Forrest Griffin, but lost the title in his next fight. That loss was Evans’ first in his MMA career.  Since then, he has won two fights in a row, and is hungry to get back into title contention.

Evans has not fought in over a year, and may be a little rusty after the lengthy layoff.  He is not overly superb in any one aspect of MMA fighting, but is good at just about everything, which is why he only has one loss and twenty wins to his credit.  He has studied kickboxing, is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and a Black Belt in Gaidojutsu. Most of his wins (8) have come by way of decision, but he does have five knockouts to his credit in his last nine fights.  Evans likes to stand and throw punches, but as soon as he sees an opening, he will try and take down his opponents.  He is a busy fighter who is constantly moving and has good stamina.  He does not like to get hit, and moves quickly to avoid strikes and takedowns.  Look for Evans to try and finish the fight by using the aggressiveness of Ortiz against him.  Evans will try and counter with a heavy knockout punch or take Ortiz down as Ortiz is moving forward, then ground and pound.

UFC Fighter Tito OrtizThe last time Tito Ortiz fought Rashad Evans, he had just come off losing a fight against Chuck Liddell for the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship.  After the draw against Evans in ’07, Ortiz lost three fights in a row and had back surgery stemming from an injury dating back to 2003.  In his last five fights, Ortiz was 0-4-1, and was on the verge of being dropped from the UFC.

Ortiz took on Ryan Bader  in UFC 132, less than a month ago.  He came in as a heavy underdog based on his last five fights, but dropped Bader with strikes, and eventually submitted him via guillotine choke in the first round.  That was Tito’s first win in his last six fights, which spanned almost five years.  I am surprised Ortiz accepted this fight against Evans so quickly after fighting on July 2nd, but I guess he feels he has something to prove.  I think Ortiz has wanted a rematch with Evans for quite some time, and I know he wants another title shot before it is all said and done.

Now that Ortiz is back to his winning ways, he will be looking to end this fight against Evans quickly.  He does not want the fight to go to a decision, as four of his eight career losses have been by way of decision.  Ortiz has eight knockouts in his seventeen wins.  I look for Ortiz to be aggressive and take the fight to Evans.  If he gets an opportunity, look for an early takedown attempt and right away to the ground and pound.  Ortiz is not as quick as Evans, and throws caution to the wind much more than Evans, who is strategic is his fight technique.  The aggressiveness of Ortiz could be effective, or it could lead to his demise in this fight.  Either way, look for this fight to contend for fight of the night honors.

Middleweight bout:      Vitor “The Phenom” Belfort  (19-9-0)   vs   Yoshihiro Akiyama  (13-3-0)

UFC Fighter Vitor BelfortVitor Belfort has been around the block.  He started his MMA career at 19 when he moved from Brazil to the United States to compete.  Belfort has been nothing but a fighter his entire life.  He began his first stint with the UFC back in 1997, fighting in UFC 12.  He went 6-1 in the UFC and then moved on to the Pride Fighting Championships.  After a 4-1 record, he came back to the UFC and won the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship.  After losing his championship belt, and his next fight, Belfort left the UFC again.  He fought in several different events, and is now back with the UFC for the third time.  Belfort fought for the UFC Middleweight Championship earlier this year.  That ended up being his first loss in his last six fights.  Belfort has dropped weight classes, from heavyweight in his early MMA years down to middleweight three years ago.  I believe this weight suits him well at this time in his career.  Belfort wants to get back to his winning ways and finish his MMA career in the UFC.

Belfort is well-traveled, and an experienced fighter.  He is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Judo, and Shotokan.  He has explosive striking and knockout power, with 13 of his 19 wins, and 4 of his last 5, coming by way of KO/TKO.  He even boxed professionally and won his one and only match.  He is very successful at takedowns, and once there, is solid with his ground and pound attack.  His weakness is defending strikes, although he is decent at defending takedowns.  He has 5 losses by decision, but I wouldn’t look for this fight to go all three rounds.  I anticipate Belfort wanting to stand and strike in this fight, and would look for a KO/TKO before it is all said and done.

UFC Fighter Yoshihiro AkiyamaBorn in Japan, Yoshihiro Akiyama was a highly decorated Judo competitor for many years.  At the age of 29, Akiyama decided to pursue a career in MMA.  He went 1-1 in his first two fights.  He then went on to win twelve fights in a row, spanning almost 5 years of competition.  Akiyama won his first UFC fight in 2009, and it was the first time any of his 14 fights to date had gone to a decision.  Since that win, Akiyama has lost his last two UFC fights, and needs to win this fight if he wants to remain a top middleweight contender.

Akiyama is a 3rd dan Black belt in Judo, has knockout power, and is a submission expert.  Seven of his thirteen wins have been by submission, and five by way of KO/TKO.  Although he packs a solid punch, he could be more effective and efficient in his striking overall.  He is very effective with his takedowns, and has avoided being taken down in every fight thus far.  His striking defense is not bad, but could be improved upon.  I look for Akiyama to stand toe to toe with Belfort in this fight.  If he does see a takedown opportunity, look for Akiyama to go for a submission to end the fight.  Since only two of his sixteen fights have gone the distance, I would look for this one to end early.

Welterweight bout:  Dennis “Superman” Hallman (65-13-2) vs Brian “Bad Boy” Ebersole (47-14-1)

UFC Fighter Dennis HallmanDennis Hallman has bounced around many different MMA fighting organizations over the years.  He was a state high school wresting champion and then starting training in MMA at age 19.  In 13 years as a professional MMA fighter, he has 81 MMA fights under his belt. Hallman fought for the UFC Lightweight Championship back in 2001, and although he has gone 25-8-2 since then, his career never really took off again, until recently.  He has gone 6-1 over his last 7 fights, and has won his last two UFC fights.  A large majority of his wins have been by submission, and he is also a grappling and wrestling expert.  His favorite technique is the rear naked choke.  Hallman is not particularly great at anything else, and that is probably why he has not been more successful over the years.  Hallman does not have knockout power and is not very successful at avoiding the takedown.  I see the only way for Hallman to win this fight is by working his grappling and wrestling to secure a takedown, and then look for a submission.

UFC Fighter Brian EbersoleBrian Ebersole has a similar background to Hallman. He grew up wrestling since the age of 4 or 5, and was a Division I wrestler in college.  He started his career in MMA while on summer vacation from the university and has been hooked ever since.  Fighting professionally since age 19, Ebersole has 63 fights under his belt in just over 11 years.  His career has not taken off until recently either.  He finally caught the attention of the UFC in 2011 after going 11-1 in his last 12 fights.  At age 30, he had his first UFC fight, and since winning that, Ebersole has won 8 fights in a row.

Ebersole is a free spirit and has a very unorthodox style.  His fighting style is freestyle, and claims the cartwheel kick as his favorite strike.  I wouldn’t be surprised if he used it in this fight. The majority of his wins have also come by way of submission (20), just like Hallman.  He does have 13 wins by KO/TKO, and another 14 wins by decision.  Ebersole is a more successful striker, and better at defending the strike as well.  He also is more successful with takedowns.  His biggest liability is his lack of defending the takedown and susceptibility to the submission.  Although Ebersole has never been knocked out in his 63 fights, 9 of his 14 losses have been by submission.  Ebersole should have the upper hand in striking, but it is anybody’s game when it comes to wrestling or submissions. This one could go to a decision.

Middleweight bout: Jorge “El Conquistador” Rivera (18-8-0) vs Constantinos “Costa” Philippou (7-2-0)

UFC Fighter Jorge RiveraJorge Rivera is a standup fighter who packs a lot of power in his punch.  He didn’t start his professional MMA career until the age of 29.  He most recently lost to Michael Bisping by way of KO/TKO, but it was a controversial loss.  Many thought Bisping delivered an illegal knee to Rivera while he was down.  At 39, Rivera will want to get back on the winning track as soon as possible, as he has already hinted at retiring.  He is a Muay Thai fighter, and has a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.  I don’t expect anything different from Rivera in this fight, as he has always had an aggressive style.  I expect him to try and end this fight early with a knockout.  Although he has 13 wins by KO/TKO, his aggressiveness has also led to 5 losses by KO/TKO.  Rivera has decent striking defense and good takedown defense.  He does not defend well off his back, so if he gets on the ground, he could be submitted by way of ground and pound.  His fights typically don’t go the distance, which more often than not, make for an exciting and entertaining battle.

UFC Fighter Constantinos PhilippouConstantinos Philippou began boxing around the age of 14.  He continued that path for 17 years, turning pro and achieving a 3-0 record.  After a dispute with his manager in 2007, he retired from boxing and decided to try MMA, as the popularity of MMA had really grown.  Philippou made his professional MMA debut in the Ring of Fire promotion in May of 2008.  He lost that first bout, but went on to win the next seven in a row, 4 by KO/TKO (with one no contest).  That caught the attention of the UFC, and almost exactly 3 years from his MMA debut, Philippou made his UFC debut.  Unfortunately that fight ended in a loss, and now Philippou is looking to start another run of consecutive wins.  Philippou is pretty raw when it comes to MMA, but he does know how to throw punches.  He will not back down from Rivera, and these two could stand toe-to-toe until one of them falls.  I do not see any takedowns or submissions being attempted in this fight, and also don’t expect it to last three rounds.

Lightweight bout: Rory “The Waterboy” MacDonald (11-1-0) vs  Mike “Quicksand” Pyle (21-7-1) 

Rory MacDonald UFC Fighter Rory MacDonaldis a young up-and-coming fighter out of Canada.  He began his professional MMA career at age 16, and after starting his career 9-0, got his shot with the UFC. He won his first UFC fight, but his second UFC fight was stopped with 7 seconds remaining in the final round. MacDonald was winning the fight up to that point, but was finished with a slurry of elbows and short punches, and lost by TKO.  He came back after that fight and won his next UFC fight by decision.  Prior to that fight, MacDonald had finished all his wins, six by submission and four by KO/TKO. MacDonald is well-rounded, and his strengths are Jiu-Jitsu and boxing.  He is looking to step up his competition to see just how good he really is.  Look for MacDonald to try and stay on his feet and get a knock out.  If he drops his opponent with a strike he could also go for a submission.

UFC Fighter Mike PyleMike Pyle started training in Taekwondo at age 17 and at 35 says he is just getting better with age.  He is a former WEC Welterweight Champion.  Pyle bounced around different fighting promotions after leaving the WEC, and is now trying to make a name for himself in the UFC.  He is a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and is coming off a 3 fight win streak.  He is a submission expert, with 17 of his 21 wins coming by way of submission.  He is an efficient striker and good defender.  He could improve his takedown efficiency as well as his takedown defense.  I don’t think there is any surprise here as I would look for Pyle to try and finish this fight with a submission.

Here is a list of the remaining UFC fights on the card for UFC 133:

Preliminary card (televised)

  • Light Heavyweight bout: Matt Hamill vs. Alexander Gustafsson
  • Featherweight bout: Chad Mendes vs. Rani Yahya

Preliminary card (Facebook)

  • Bantamweight bout: Ivan Menjivar vs. Nick Pace
  • Welterweight bout: Johny Hendricks vs. Mike Pierce
  • Featherweight bout: Mike Brown vs. Nam Phan
  • Middleweight bout: Rafael Natal vs. Paul Bradley
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~ by Troy Erickson on August 2, 2011.

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