It’s been an interesting summer for the City of Brotherly Love. The Philadelphia Flyers blew up their team and added new pieces, the Philadelphia Eagles put together a NFL “dream team,” and the Philadelphia Phillies are currently the best team in baseball. Now the biggest event of the summer comes to town. I’m of course talking about Taylor Swift and her “Speak Now Tour.”
There’s also UFC 133, headlined by two former UFC light heavyweight champions looking to get another crack at the big gold belt and erase the memory of a 2007 draw. And if you’re passing up the chance to see the greatest and most beautiful entertainer of our generation to see guys punch each other in the face, at least you get to see Brittney Palmer.
Light Heavyweight Fight: Tito Ortiz vs. Rashad Evans
The First Fight Doesn’t Matter: Rashad Evans and Tito Ortiz have met once before. It was at UFC 73 in July 2007, over four years ago. That fight ended in a draw due to Ortiz grabbing the cage and being docked a point. None of that matters. Prior to that fight, Ortiz had just challenged for the light heavyweight title while Evans’ biggest victory was a majority decision over Stephan Bonnar. Since then, Ortiz has only fought four times, losing three of those fights, and has had multiple surgeries while Evans has fought six times, losing only once, scoring victories over former champs Chuck Liddell, Forrest Griffin, and Quinton Jackson, and he also won the UFC light heavyweight strap. These two men are different fighters in 2011 and their UFC 73 fights means absolutely nothing come Saturday.
Evans Is Coming Off A Mir Layoff: For those that don’t know, a “Mir Layoff” is when a fighter hasn’t competed in a year due to injuries. Throughout history, guys coming off a “Mir Layoff” usually lose because their cardio isn’t what it should be and they have trouble getting their timing back inside the cage. Plus, due to the injuries, they’ve missed training time, which means they’ve missed time to sharpen or improve certain skills. Evans chose to sit out from his last fight in May 2010 all the way to March 2011, but got injured in February. So maybe the MCL injury won’t hinder him too much because he’s missed more cage time by his own choice than by injury, but it’s still worrying when a fighter hasn’t competed in over a year and the injury involves a knee like it does with Rashad.
Ortiz Back After Five Weeks: Everyone counted Ortiz out against Ryan Bader at UFC 132 except Ortiz himself. He not only won the fight, as he’s quick to point out, he finished Bader quicker than current light heavyweight king Jon Jones. Five weeks later, he’s returning to action. Since 2006, the shortest time between fights for Ortiz prior to this turnaround was two and a half months. Granted Ortiz spent less than two minutes in the cage on July 2nd but his body peaked for that fight and now has to peak again on August 6th.
But Is Ortiz Back?: While the victory over Bader was shocking and much needed, does it mean Tito is back to his days of “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy”? He caught Bader with a right hand and showed a great killer instinct to jump on him and finish him with a guillotine choke, but is that a sign of Ortiz returning to form or Bader not being as good as we thought? I lean more to the latter because it’s tough to learn a lot about a fighter in a fight that lasts less than two minutes. To Ortiz’ credit, even in his losses, he’s always been competitive, but the result has been the same.
Evans’ Training Camp Switch: I don’t care what Rashad says, switching over from Greg Jackson’s camp to this makeshift camp he’s set-up in Florida has and will affect him. Maybe it’s been a positive change, maybe it’s been a negative, but when you’ve spent your entire career at one place and you’ve been training with the same partners and coaches, it’s going to be different that first fight under a new camp. Especially when you’re moving from arguably the best camp in the world to a camp that didn’t exist five months ago. Evans is still training with top fighters and maybe he’s getting more attention, but he’s not going to hear Jackson’s voice during rounds or see Trevor Wittman’s smile between rounds.
Speed, Not Technique: Technically, Evans is not a good striker. But he is quick and powerful. He gets in and out with his punches better than most top-level fighters. For example, in the “Rampage” fight, Jackson, who is known as one of the best counter punchers in MMA, was a miles away from hitting Evans because of how quickly Rashad leaped in and leaped out. He not only uses his speed to out-strike opponents, he uses his speed to mix up his striking with his takedowns.
The Cardio Battle: Ortiz might have the most overrated cardio in all of MMA while Evans has questionable cardio himself. Both men spend a lot of gas going for takedowns and by the third round, that catches up to them. With Ortiz, maybe you can relate his cardio problems to all his injuries over the years and now that he’s healthy (so he claims, again), he won’t have that problem. With Evans, he is coming off an injury so instead of burning fuel like a Rolls-Royce, he’ll burn gas like a Hummer.
Fight Prediction: All things equal, Evans wins this fight. Things aren’t equal though. Evans is coming off a layoff and Ortiz, even though he’s fighting on short notice, has momentum on his side for the first time in years. I still think Evans takes this fight though because, even though the layoff really concerns me, he’s just a better fighter. He’s going to use his speed and mix in takedowns, which in the process will frustrate Ortiz, who just won’t be able to get much going offensively.
Official Prediction: Rashad Evans to defeat Tito Ortiz by Decision
PHOTO CREDIT – UFC