UFC 133: Jones vs. Evans, I mean Evans vs. Davis, I mean Evans vs. Ortiz
This Saturday’s UFC 133 card has gone through some major revisions as you can see by my sarcastic headline, but I’m in a positive mood today so I should point out the following: I like Phil Davis and think he’s a future title contender in the division, but Tito Ortiz versus Rashad Evans is an improvement to the headliner, especially given Tito’s recent upset over Ryan Bader. Even with the litany of other injuries (Lil Nog, Vladimir Matyushenko, Alessio Sakara, Riki Fukuda), the Philly crowd will still be a sight to behold and I’d give 5-1 Vegas odds on an attention-stealing catfight breaking out like the one at UFC 101. Here’s the preview:
UFC 133 Rafael Natal over Paul Bradley (FB)
Mike Brown over Nam Phan (FB)
Mike Pierce over Johny Hendricks (FB)
Ivan Menjivar over Nick Pace (FB)
Chad Mendes over Rani Yahya (Spike)
Alexander Gustafsson over Matt Hamill (Spike)
Rory MacDonald vs. Mike Pyle (Welterweight)
In my humble opinion, this is the most intriguing fight on the main card between a young, rising prospect and a veteran spoiler (ok, potential spoiler). Twenty-two year old Rory MacDonald is 11-1 with his only loss to top WW title contender Carlos Condit (fun fact: both share gyms with current champ GSP at Tristar Gym & Jackson’s respectively) and is coming off a very impressive win where he suplexed the hell out of Nate Diaz towards a unanimous decision at UFC 129. Pyle has a longer resume at 21-7-1 and is riding a three-fight winning streak after beating Jesse Lennox, John Hathaway (another young prospect at 170) and Ricardo Almeida. With youth and superior striking on his side, MacDonald should be able to control the fight and put Pyle away, but Pyle is a tough guy with solid ground skills so he is going to have to work for it.
Jay’s Pick: MacDonald via TKO, R3
Jorge Rivera vs. Constantinos Philippou (Middleweight)
Between Alessio Sakara’s unlikely decision loss to Chris Weidman at UFC Live: Sanchez vs. Kampmann and Rivera’s controversial loss to Michael Bisping at UFC 127, I think everyone was looking forward to third time being a charm and those two finally getting in the Octagon to let out their frustrations one another’s skulls. Unfortunately, Sakara’s last minute injury means that Philippou, a Serra-Longo fighter who’s 0-1 in the UFC after a long stint in NJ-based Ring of Combat promotion, gets bumped up from his original undercard fight against Rafael Natal. Great opportunity for the Cypriot-born Philippou to rebound from that debut loss to Nick Catone, but given the quick turnaround and Rivera’s knock out power, I don’t like his chances.
Jay’s Pick: Rivera via KO, R1
Dennis Hallman vs. Brian Ebersole (Welterweight)
Sandwiched between two fights I’m predicting will both be won by nasty TKOs, we have two journeymen fighters who’ve fought in just about every major MMA entity over the past 15 years and have a combined 97 wins. After returning to the UFC from Strikeforce, Hallman is on a two fight winning streak after knocking out the head case known as Karo Parisyan and earning a UD against Ben Saunders. The slightly younger Ebersole has not lost since 2008 and is coming off a decision win over Chris Lytle. Both lean on their grappling with the nod in striking going to Ebersole. This fight is a bit of a tossup so I’m going to go with Ebersole based on his stronger string of recent performances, including the Fight of the Night win over Lytle.
Jay’s Pick: Ebersole via decision
Vitor Belfort vs. Yoshihiro Akiyama (Middleweight)
After losing his title fight at UFC 126 to Anderson Silva via The Steven Segal Front Kick of Doom, Belfort has been given a chance to rebound with Akiyama, a fighter whom it’s hard not to lament over given poor performances (a split decision win in his debut over Alan Belcher at UFC 100 followed by more recent back-to-back losses to Chris Leben and Michael Bisping) against lofty expectations upon his arrival stateside. Simply put, and I think I’ve mentioned this before, I think Akiyama is better suited at welterweight and would provide some interesting matchups at 170, but hey, I’m just a keyboard ‘warrior’ for this website and not Joe Silva. Belfort is bigger, stronger and has much better standup. Even if Akiyama can utilize his world-class judo skills, Belfort’s a black belt in both judo and BJJ and won’t get bullied that easily. Plus, after the Segal Front Kick, I’d have to imagine Belfort is pretty pissed off and looking to make a statement (although, based on past behavior, we can never be too sure). Still, he finishes Sexyama with strikes.
Jay’s Pick: Belfort via TKO, R2
Suga Rashad just can’t get no love. He’s 4-1 in his last five with the lone loss coming at the hands of now-former LHW champ Lyoto Machida. Three out of those four wins were over perennial fan favorites: Chuck Liddell, Forrest Griffin and Rampage Jackson so it’s hard to win over the masses. His wrestling-first style has not made him the most exciting at times with 50% of his victories coming via decision. To top it all off, his one chance to possibly turn the corner as a fan favorite by beating current champ Jon Jones (ya know, the guy who sort of stole his camp, teammates, coaches and has started to rub the MMA fan base the wrong way with his ego) goes out the window first in favor of Phil Davis, a young, rising star whom nobody outside of hardcore fanbase really cared about and who would have not really helped his career by beating, and then for Tito Ortiz…who steps in after Davis went down with an injury and has become an unlikely, late-in-his-career underdog, thus turning Rashad into the, excuse the pro wrestling lingo, ‘heel’ once again.
Yes, that last sentence was grammatically incorrect run-on but I wrote it like I was saying it and am now gasping for air. The last time Evans and Ortiz fought it was declared a draw after Ortiz lost points for grabbing the fence so there is some history, which again makes this fight more marketable than the Davis/Evans fight. Evans, however, is a different fighter this time around. Yes, his wrestling is his base (as is Tito’s) but he has shown to have great movement and fast hands. Now, Tito’s shocking first round guillotine win over Ryan Bader was very exciting and even though he hadn’t had a win in five years up until that point, he’s only ever been finished due to strikes by Chuck Liddell so I don’t see Evans landing the big bomb like he, interestingly enough, did to Liddell himself. Instead, this one goes to the scorecards and sets up Evans vs. the winner of Jones/Rampage next spring for the belt.
Jay’s Pick: Evans via decision
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