In an interview with MMAFighting’s Ariel Helwani, Rashad Evans talked about Tito Ortiz’s resurgence following an upset win over Ryan Bader.
When Helwani asked Evans about the MMA world saying ‘Tito is back,’ Evans replied.
“I’m not on the Tito hype train yet, man. I was excited to see him get that win because he got to stay in the UFC,” said Evans. “I’m not buying it, man. He got him with the flash knockdown, and then he caught him with the guillotine choke. And I don’t want to take nothing away from the dude, I mean that’s great that he got the win, but at the same time, I don’t how that makes you back just because you got one win in five years.”
The win over Bader stunned the MMA world. Tito had endured a five-year draught, and even UFC Commentator Joe Rogan confirmed on-air that Tito was literally fighting for his job in the UFC. Tito was the longtime face of the UFC, becoming legend for his trash talk and powerful ground and pound, defending his UFC Light Heavyweight Championship five consecutive times, a record that still stands today. Since losing to Chuck Liddell via TKO in a much-anticipated rematch at UFC 66, ‘the Huntington Beach Boy’ seemed to have been cursed. Including the Liddell fight, he amassed a record of four losses and a draw against Rashad before picking up the win last month.
In the blue corner, Ryan Bader had looked impressive in his young career, picking up big wins over Rogerio Nogueira and Keith Jardine before a lackluster performance against now-champion Jon ‘Bones’ Jones. In the Jones fight, Bader looked outclassed on the ground, and it also seemed as if the Arizona State wrestler succumbed to the pressure of the moment, looking tentative in the Octagon while Jones finished the fight in the second frame with a choke.
When Ortiz and Bader met, Ortiz did as Rashad noted, flooring Bader with a sliding uppercut before sinking in a choke when Bader scrambled for a takedown. While the astonishment and quickness of the conclusion is undeniable, the goal of a fighter in the cage is to finish his opponent quickly and not sustain damage. Tito managed to do just that.
While title talk involving Ortiz may be premature, there is no better way to put yourself in line than by beating ‘Sugar’ Rashad Evans. Rashad has been a perennial contender in the UFC Light Heavyweight Division for years, losing only once in his career, when the Michigan State Spartan took to his first title defense against Lyoto ‘the Dragon’ Machida. If Rashad gets through Tito in this fight, all signs point toward him challenging the winner of Jon Jones and Quinton Jackson for the championship, two men with whom Rashad has grown very familiar in recent years.
The world will see if a losing streak turns to a winning streak for Tito Ortiz when he challenges Rashad this Saturday at UFC 133 in Philadelphia, PA.