Rashad Evans put an end to Tito Ortiz’s Cinderella story tonight in the main event of UFC 133, which went down at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Fresh off of an impressive career-saving win over Ryan Bader, a fully rejuvenated Tito Ortiz was looking to keep his momentum rolling by taking the fight with number one contender Evans on short notice. Unfortunately for The Huntington Beach Bad Boy, Evans had other plans and his fourteen-month layoff actually seemed to benefit him as opposed to leave him rusty.
Ortiz came out strong in the first, landing a few good punches before planting Evans on the mat against the cage. He couldn’t hold Suga down for long though and Evans eventually fought back to his feet, where he and Ortiz engaged in a dogfight. With Evans getting the better of things, Ortiz put his back on the wall, dug in and fired back, backing Evans off with a hard knee that popped up his head. Toward the end of the first, Evans pulled out his own wrestling and scooped Ortiz up into the air before dumping him to the mat. Ortiz gave up position on the mat, but defended well from Evans’ ground and pound.
Marked up and visibly slower at the start of the second, Ortiz pressed on regardless. He attacked Rashad with a volley of punches, but Suga avoided them and returned fire. Moving in behind his own punch combination, Evans planted Ortiz on the mat again, where he began to improve position with ease and land shots when he could. Ortiz hung tough, fighting out of a mounted crucifix and covering well from Evans’ continued assault. The 36-year-old MMA veteran fought to his knees, where Evans met him with a vicious knee to the body that forced him to clutch his midsection in pain and crumple to the mat. Evans teed off with right hands until the ref called a halt to the bout.
Evans made a statement tonight that his new training regimen, coaches and training partners are paying dividends in his performance. He showed no evidence of ring rust and proved that he’s the rightful next contender for the UFC light heavyweight belt. Now sporting a record of 16-1-1, Rashad Evans put Jon Jones and Quinton Jackson on notice, as he’ll be facing either one for the belt in his next fight.
Tito Ortiz showed real heart in Philly, both during the fight and afterward. Long known as the king of post-fight excuses, Ortiz said flat out that he’s one hundred percent healthy and that Evans deserves props and a shot at the belt for beating him at his best. He pledged to return to the cage, where he said he’ll continue to go for broke — win, lose or draw.