Top MMA News Breaks Down UFC 133: Evans vs. Ortiz
The UFC returns on August 6th at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The card that has dealt with multiple injuries has finally settled on its five main card bouts, headlined by ‘Suga’ Rashad Evans squaring off against the resurgent Tito ‘The Huntington Beach Bad Boy’ Ortiz. The main card will be live on Pay-Per-View while two preliminary bouts will air on Spike TV and Rogers Sportsnet. The remaining four bouts on the card will be aired live on Facebook.
Now for the breakdown:
Rashad Evans (15-1-1) vs. Tito Ortiz (16-8-1)
After Phil Davis was forced to pull out of this fight, Tito Ortiz did what Lyoto Machida declined to do and became a UFC hero by accepting a big time fight on short notice. This will not be the first time these two meet. Tito outworked Evans in their first fight in 2007, but the fight was called a draw after Ortiz had a point deducted for holding the fence in the second round. They are both very different fighters since then. Rashad was the UFC Light Heavyweight Champion and has utilized his wrestling background far more over the past two fights. He has been the number one contender for the title twice and has yet to fight for the belt because of injuries to himself and current champion, Jon Jones. If he loses to Ortiz, it would be disastrous for his career. Tito Ortiz, on the other hand, is coming off of his first victory since 2006. He looked impressive in his underdog role against Ryan Bader, which is the first time he had looked impressive in years. Ortiz is undoubtedly the bigger fighter. The best way for him to win this fight is to utilize his size and try to wrestle with Evans, even though Evans is the better wrestler. If Ortiz can get into the clinch and work for position while trying to get Evans on his back, he has an excellent chance of winning the fight. Evans needs to keep his distance and pick his spots but also shoot for take downs. As we seen against Matt Hamill and Forrest Griffin in his last two losses, Ortiz becomes very still and is not active in later rounds. It is all on Evans to take advantage of that, as long as he does not allow Ortiz to outwork him for the first round or two. I see Evans being able to work his kickboxing more than he has recently while shooting for effective take downs against Ortiz.
Prediction: Evans via Unanimous Decision
Yoshihiro Akiyama (13-3) vs. Vitor Belfort (19-9)
Joe Silva seems to have something against Akiyama. After losing consecutive fights to Chris Leben and Michael Bisping, respectively, he is on the verge of being cut. He now gets the toughest fight of his career against Vitor Belfort where he will have the opportunity to show his ability to overcome adversity. Akiyama has not utilized his world class judo very well in his fights. He has stood toe-to-toe with guys that have showcased excellent stand-up and has not been successful. Vitor Belfort is by far the best striker Akiyama will face in his career. Vitor has one of the most respected careers in UFC history. He put himself on the map at the age of 19 by winning the UFC Heavyweight tournament, went on to become the Light Heavyweight champion in 2004 and after a couple years of struggles, regained success by becoming a title challenger for the UFC Middleweight title. He unfortunately was unable to leave the first round against Anderson Silva this past February, but many had pegged him as the man to defeat the champion in the stand up. People believed this because of the monstrous speed and power in both his fists. He has a good grappling background but if Akiyama is able to work his strengths, he will not be the better grappler in this fight; however, Akiyama has done nothing to convince MMA fans that he will do anything but stand in front of Belfort and take a lot of punishment. If Akiyama loses this fight, a cut down to 170 should seriously be considered, otherwise his 3 straight fight of the night performances will be gone, as will his career in the UFC.
Prediction: Belfort via TKO Round 2
Brian Ebersole (45-15) vs. Dennis Hallman (42-13-2)
These two MMA veterans have well over 100 combined fights while both winning over 40 fights each. Despite the ridiculous number of fights, they are both only in their 30s (Ebersole is 30, while Hallman is 35). It is odd to believe that they are not as well known as they should be. In fact, Ebersole, in his long career, just had his first ever UFC fight this past February when he replaced Carlos Condit and pulled off an amazing upset over a red hot Chris Lytle in a Fight of the Night performance. Last year, he defeated Canadian Carlos Newton, who was the former UFC Welterweight Champion, in a fight that may have very well put him on the UFC’s radar. Hallman has been in and out of the UFC in his long career, managing to fight in 3 different weight classes along the way. He is a solid grappler as he proved early in his career, when he submitted Matt Hughes twice (both under 20 seconds). He most recently shut down Karo Parisyan early in the first round with an impressive performance, extending his current winning streak to two. It will be hard for Hallman to figure out the unique style of Ebersole, who can confuse just about any fighter with his awkward moves. We are talking about a guy that attempted a cartwheel kick within the first 5 seconds against Lytle. Hallman will likely have his moments in this fight, as he tries to turn the fight into a grind while going for multiple submission attempts, but I see Ebersole impressing the fans and the judges once again as he pulls a few tricks from his sleeve.
Prediction: Ebersole via Split Decision
Jorge Rivera (19-8) vs. Constantinos Philippou (7-2)
Rivera was originally scheduled to fight Alessio Sakara; however, the fight failed to happen for a third time. Now we are left with a last minute replacement, Constantinos Philippou. Most MMA fans likely do not know about Philippou and he has only had one other fight in his UFC career, where he lost a unanimous decision to Nick Catone. Both of these fighters prefer the striking game and both have fairly decent boxing. Philippou has better technical boxing and better movement than Rivera, but Jorge is a seasoned veteran of the UFC and does not shy away from big fights, as he proved against Bisping. He has no reason to shy away from a little known opponent. Philippou will likely be a game opponent, especially since he has something to prove against a guy that has made a name for himself in the UFC. Rivera should be able to catch Philippou late after a surprisingly close fight which turns out to be a fairly entertaining brawl.
Prediction: Rivera via TKO Round 3
Rory MacDonald (11-1) vs. Mike Pyle (21-7-1)
This fight is a classic example of a veteran against a prospect. Canadian Rory MacDonald proved his talent against Carlos Condit, as he was 7 seconds away from potential victory, but a late stoppage did not give the judges a chance to crown him the likely victor in his second fight in the octagon. He got back to the win column by completely punishing Nate Diaz this past April in Toronto as he won a dominant unanimous decision. This will not be the first time Mike Pyle faces a hyped prospect. He gave himself a name in the UFC by man-handling John Hathaway in his own country, giving him his first loss. Pyle most recently defeated Renzo Gracie Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, Ricardo Almeida, extending his winning streak to three. MacDonald will have his hands full against Pyle, who is likely the best grappler he will have faced in his career. This will also be his most impressive victory if he is able to pull it off. Both fighters will look to work the cage and take the fight to the ground as they both continuously work for better positioning. Rory MacDonald is one of the best prospects in the UFC for a reason, and he should be able to use more effective boxing to set up better take downs. It should be an extremely tight fight with the 22 year old, MacDonald, narrowly taking over late in the fight.
Prediction: MacDonald via Armbar Round 3
For all you Canadian MMA fans, I have Ivan Menjivar beating Nick Pace as the Canadians go 2 for 2!