Former UFC light heavyweight champions Tito Ortiz and Rashad Evans will meet in the Octagon this weekend for the main event of UFC 133, which takes place at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Though this match up will likely look much different than their first, Ortiz and Evans have been dance partners before. They met in July of 2007 in what was the co-main event of UFC 73: Stacked, a card which featured two title fights: one between then-lightweight-champ Sean Sherk and Hermes Franca and the other between current middleweight kingpin Anderson Silva and Nate Marquardt.
At the time, Ortiz was still considered to be one of the best light heavyweights in the world, even despite the fact that he was coming off of his second TKO loss to Chuck Liddell. In contrast, the then-undefeated Evans was still largely unproven since his time as a castmember on the second season of The Ultimate Fighter, with his biggest wins being a unanimous decision over Stephan Bonnar and a head kick knockout of Sean Salmon.
The bout, which was prefaced with some heated trash talk and tired promises of an injury-free Ortiz made by Ortiz himself, was Evans first foray into the truly big leagues — and it showed on fight night.
In the opening moments of the fight, The Huntington Beach Bad Boy closed the distance with a head kick and immediately put Evans — an accomplished collegiate wrestler — on his back. With Randy Couture aiding Rogan and Goldie with the commentary, it seemed like Evans was going to be in for a long night.
Admittedly just a “pup” then, Evans looked uncomfortable and a little wild with his stand up and was overall too hesitant to engage, even with his standout wrestling. Ortiz wasn’t exactly blowing him out of the water, but he was definitely taking the fight on the judges’ scorecards. That is, until the second round came about.
Despite having successfully stopped several of Evans’ takedown attempts with apparent ease, Ortiz began to tire in the second and, during one sequence, repeatedly grabbed the fence to avoid being taken down. Referee Big John McCarthy warned him and eventually docked him a point, right before Evans finally completed a takedown. Suga wouldn’t hold dominant position for long though, as Ortiz quickly wrapped up an arm-in guillotine and used the hold to flip Evans over just before the bell.
In the third round, it was clear that Ortiz was gassing out. He was having trouble lifting his feet and had to put in great effort just to strike efficiently, let alone dive for and complete a takedown. Still, things remained fairly even, with Evans unable to establish much significant offense, even when he did break up the spells where he was hesitant to engage. Aside from a takedown that Ortiz completed on Evans, there was little significant offense to speak of delivered by either man. Finally, in the closing seconds of the bout, Evans would plant Ortiz on the mat, where he would stay until the final bell.
In the end,the bout was scored a unanimous draw, with Ortiz’s second round point deduction costing him the fight. This weekend’s bout should look several shades different, on account of the fact that Evans has developed immensely on the way to establishing himself as one of the world’s top light heavyweights and Ortiz, apparently truly injury-free now, is riding a wave of confidence after quickly and decisively dispatching of young gun Ryan Bader last month.
The conditions have changed, the environment has changed, the fighters themselves have changed and they’ll both be looking to prove a thing or two when they meet for the second time this weekend. Don’t forget to check back on FightLine.com tomorrow night for our live, ongoing coverage of UFC 133: Evans vs. Ortiz 2.