UFC 133: Evans vs Ortiz 2 – Preview and Predictions

After a couple of weeks absent from our TV screens, the UFC returns with a vengeance in August with 3 events, starting with this UFC 133. This is another one of “those” cards from the UFC. Decimated by injuries and with more pullouts than a catholic gangbang. Jon Jones: injured, as a result Rashad who has been on the shelf for nearly a year takes a fight against Phil Davis…. who gets injured! L’il Nog: Injured as a result Jim Carey Rich Franklin is withdrawn due to lack of suitable replacement opponent. Jose Aldo: Injured and not on card as rumoured, Matyushenko: injured, Riki Fukuda: injured, Alessio Sakara: injured and the list goes on…

So what we are left with is a card where, other than the two main fights, there isn’t too much to keep the casual fan happy. Although on paper it looks to be lacking star quality – certainly when you compare it to the pant-wettingly awesome line-up for UFC 134 (aka UFC Brazil) – there will still be some interesting scraps. McDonald vs Pyle particularly stands out for me as a sleeper on the card, that has the makings of a really excellent fight. Some of the undercard fights are a little confusing…..in the sense that they blatantly shouldn’t be undercard fights. Mendes vs Yahya and Brown vs Nam Phan on the undercard and we get Hallman vs Ebersole and Riviera vs Phillipou on the main card??? Mendes vs Yahya has potential title implications if the undefeated Mendes chalks up another win (as many expect he will) so putting it on the undercard, even it is “headlining” the aired prelims is a bit of an odd move in my opinion. I can sort of understand Brown vs Phan being down there as they are both coming off losses but this should be another great fight.

Preamble done….let’s get it on!

Rafael Natal 12-3-1 vs. Paul Bradley 18-2-0 (1NC) – Middleweight
This probably Natal’s last throw of the dice in the UFC. With an uninspiring 0-1-1 UFC record he will be looking to put his elite grappling skills to good use in this fight. His opponent Bradley steps in at short notice after Phillipou was bumped up to main card duties following Sakara’s withdrawal. Bradley was a contender on Season 7 of TUF but had to leave the show due to a skin infection (yummy… you enjoying your lunch my dear reader?). Bradley then has something to prove, being handed a golden 2nd chance at a regular UFC slot. He is a former all-American at Iowa university and will be confident of having the wrestling edge in this fight. Whether that will be deciding factor depends on how hungry Natal is. After his draw against Jesse Bongfeldt last time out, where he faded after a decent opening, I think Bradley could use his wrestling to drag this into the later rounds and then beat up on the gassed Brazilian. Bradley TKO rd3.

Mike Thomas Brown 24-8-0 vs. Nam Phan 16-8-0 – Featherweight
Mike Brown is a fighter on a severe downward skid. This is the former WEC champ who beat Urijah Faber twice, he is now facing the possibility of his 5th loss in 7 fights and going 0-3 in the UFC which could mean the end of his big show run. The good news for Brown is that despite his opponent being a force on the feet, he is far the superior Wrestler and should have no trouble putting Phan on his back, even if he does have to take a few shots to get him there. Phan has great movement on the feet and is quick to get in and out. Many people think he should have won the epic fight with Leonard Garcia and he will be desperate to get that first UFC “w”. But I have Brown grinding this one out and hanging onto his UFC spot for now. Brown decision

Johny Hendricks 10-1-0 vs. Mike Pierce 12-3-0 – Welterweight
Two wrestlers go at it in this Welterweight fight. I’ve been a Hendricks fan since he pulverised Amir Sadollah in 29 seconds in his UFC debut. He has fearsome power in his hands and scored a KO of the night bonus in his last bout againsy TJ Waldburger. He’s never been stopped and when he is on fire, he is a great fighter to watch. Pierce his no slouch either, he has shown great improvement in his last few fights and has evolved from the boring grind-em-out wrestler type and has finished his last two opponents. Like Hendricks, Pierce has never been stopped in a fight. The danger with this match is that the two cancel each other out with a cautious approach and give us a boring wrestle-fuck of a fight. Hopefully that won’t happen and I’m betting on my boy Hendricks to unleash a cannonball right uppercut from hell inside the distance. Hendricks TKO rd 2

Ivan Menjivar 22-8-0 vs. Nick Pace 6-1-0 – Bantamweight
Menjivar has been there and got the t-shirt in MMA. This is definitely the biggest test so far in Nick Pace’s young career. Nick Pace has a name that sounds like a 1950’s Private Investigator but he also has speed and slick submissions but he doesn’t have anything Menjivar hasn’t seen before. In 30 fights Menjivar has only been stopped twice, one a TKO loss to none other than a mr George St Pierre and the other a submission loss to Jason Black. Both are mistakes he has never repeated in all his fights since. I think Menjivar is going to be a very tough nut for Pace to crack, and if Pace is going to win, it will be by keeping a frenetic pace for 3 rounds and frustrating Menjivar. I can’t see him putting the veteran away. While I think Pace will do good things in this sport, I don’t think he is up to this particular task. He’ll make a mistake and Menjivar will capitalise Menjivar Submission rd 2

Aired Prelims:
Alexander Gustafsson 11-1-0 vs. Matt Hamill 10-3-0 – Light Heavyweight
Hamill was made to look pretty awful in his last fight against Rampage, but styles make fights and Rampage was a horrible style match-up for him. In Gustafsson he finds an opponent much more up his street. Hamill has legit power, despite not being an elite striker. Hamill needs to use his wrestling
advantage in this fight. Gustafsson is no slouch on the feet and has developed his submission game, winning his last two fights by RNC (albeit against opponents that aren’t in the same class as Hamill). If Hamill can close the distance and avoid the boxing skill of his opponent, I can’t see him being trouble too badly in this fight. Gustafsson, despite an impressive fight record, hasn’t really fought a wrestler like Hamill. The closest he has come is Phil Davis, and we all know what happened there. Davis and Hamill are clearly very different animals, but the fact is Gustafsson will be on his back getting beaten up again, and we know he ain’t gonna like it. If Hamill comes out of the gate chasing the takedown, he will get it. Hamill TKO rd1

Chad Mendes 10-0-0 vs. Rani Yahya 16-6-0 – Featherweight
This looks to be a really good fight, the undefeated Mendes is a strong wrestler with an ever improving standup game. He has a powerful right hand and his workrate is skyhigh. This could be the biggest factor in this fight as Yahya, talented as he is, has been outworked before in fights he should have won. Yayha has a kind of erratic style and his submission game is elite level with World BJJ Championships and ADCC no-gi titles to his name. However, once again wrestling will be the decider here and he cannot match Mendes in that department. Fighting out of Urijah Fabers team alpha-male stable, he is an ex All-American wrestler and his team-mate Joseph Benavidez already holds a 1st round TKO win over Yahya. I see this one going in favour of Mendes, he will have to endure some sticky moments and be very submission aware, but this one should go his way. Mendes Decision
Main Card:

Mike Pyle 21-7-1 vs. Rory MacDonald 11-1-0 – Welterweight
MacDonald is a fighter whose star is on the rise. He has been training extensively with GSP and has dropped one fight in 11. Pyle has been around for ever and is constantly overlooked and underestimated. I wrote him off in his fight against John Hathaway and he completely took the hitman apart and gave him a thorough schooling. He is on a 3 fight tear and seems rejuvenated despite his advancing years. Macdonald is a new breed fighter. He didnt drift into MMA from another discipline like so many do. He started martial arts doing MMA. His stand up is good and probably edges Pyle and his wrestling is improving. Pyle will want to drag Macdonald into deep water in this fight in much the same way as he did Hathaway. If MacDonald can stick to what he does best, stay behind his jab and get up from the takedowns, he should have this wrapped up. But it won’t be an easy fight and he will definitely have moments in this fight when he is really up against it. I give the edge to the new-breed in this fight and possibly even a fight of the night bonus too! MacDonald decision

Jorge Rivera 19-8-0 vs. Constantinos Philippou 7-2-0 – Middleweight
Meh. That is what I think about this match. Rivera seems to still be obsessed with bitching about Michael Bisping. I liked the Sakara matchup better, but obviously injuries happen in MMA. Philippou has a chance to get a “name” on his record in this match and Rivera is nearing the end of his MMA journey. Rivera still has the ability to pull out some heavy hands to surprise his opponent, but he always looks very beatable. Performances like his devastating win over Nate Quarry, are never far from becoming performances like his beasting at the hands of Bisping. If I’m honest I don’t really care who wins this match, neither fighter is going to be setting the Middleweight rankings on fire any time soon. But my pick is that the younger, hungrier Philippou picks off the veteran and gets a nice name on his record. Philippou TKO rd 3

Dennis Hallman 50-13-2 vs. Brian Ebersole 47-14-1 – Welterweight
Wow! 127 fights between them and still mixing it up on the main card of the premier fighting event in the world. Hallman has never been submitted and Ebersole has never been KO’d in all those fights. That is pretty impressive you have to give it to them. Both men have been in there share of wars and have had ups and downs in there careers. Ebersole pulled off an impressive upset victory over Chris Lytle in his last fight, taking his current win streak to 8. Hallman was on a decent streak himself until a very late KO loss to John Howard, but he put that right with 2 wins against Ben Saunders and Karo Parisyan. Hallmans submission savvy will concern Ebersole who will no doubt try and mix up strikes and takedowns and avoid being caught up on the ground with Hallman. I like Ebersole in this fight. He has great momentum with his current win streak and showed in the Lytle fight that he has a decent bag off MMA tricks. Hallmans grappling prowess is a huge threat, but Ebersole has nothing to fear from the striking and should be looking to let his hands go and put Hallman in trouble. Ebersole TKO rd 2

Vitor Belfort 19-9-0 vs. Yoshihiro Akiyama 13-3-0 – Middleweight
This is an intriguing co-main event. Belfort suffered a crushing loss to the genius that is Anderson Silva with “that kick” and will look to rebound against the teak tough and hugely popular Akiyama. Despite a 1-2 record in the UFC, Akiyama has won fight of the night honours for ALL his UFC appearances and all have gone into the 3rd round. Belfort is by far his toughest challenge though, especially if the right Vitor turns up. That phrase is one that is a tagline that accompanies a lot of pre-fight analysis where Belfort is concerned. He has suffered wild inconsistencies in his MMA performances, but no-one can deny that when he is “on” he is one of the best strikers in MMA probably ever. Akiyamas ways to win are few and far between. Engaging on the feet is playing to the strengths of his opponent, looking to circle and wear Belfort down is an option but is also a hiding to nothing as that won’t win him the fight. In order to assert his own best strength – his judo – he has to get inside and that opens him up to the short uppercuts and hooks that have smashed many fighters before. If he does get it to the floor, he is grappling with a BJJ blackbelt. In short, it is very difficult to see a way for the Japanese man to win here. You can bet he will go out on his shield though, swinging for the fences and entertaining the crowd. Belfort should take this comfortably. Belfort KO round 2

Rashad Evans 15-1-0 vs. Tito Ortiz 16-8-0 – Light Heavyweight
Im not a huge Tito fan, but I started to warm to him after his performance against Bader. To be fair I am even less of a Rashad fan. Talented yes, but likeable? Absolutely not. Both men have very punchable faces and there should be a fair amount of face punching going on here. Despite a losing record stretching back to 2006 prior to the Bader win, Tito wasnt stopped by anyone except Chuck Liddell and even then it was late into round 3. He is a tough guy to beat, and would have a win over Rashad were it not for a point deduction in their last fight. Rashad has had a weird run outside the octagon in the UFC. He made a bad choice waiting for a title fight and as a result Jon Jones went and nabbed the title he wants so badly. Now he is in a position where he has to beat a man that beat him (in every way except on paper) 4 years ago to get back in the picture. He has left the team that made him, due to his dispute with Jon Jones and is now training out of Imperial Athletics. He has been working hard on his striking and sparring with elite K1 fighters like Tyrone Spong. This is an intriguing fight and while I would have written Tito off completely prior to the Bader fight, after that performance you have to believe that he has it in him to win this match. If he does that, the win coupled with the fact that this is his second UFC fight in a month will really upset the Light heavyweight division and put the “Huntington Beach Badboy” – unbelievably – back in the title picture. Rashad has speed, footwork and power advantages over Tito, but in an out and out grappling match I would actually go with Tito. However, despite the fact that it would be an epic comeback story and that I am rooting for Tito to win, I have to go with a head over heart pick here. Rashad has improved in leaps and bounds since he last face Tito in the Octagon, I’m not sure I can say the same about Ortiz. It won’t be easy, but Rashad should take the win and will no doubt, eventually get a shot at getting his belt back. Evans decision

******************** UPDATED WITH RESULTS ************************
Rafael Natal vs. Paul Bradley – My Pick:Bradley TKO rd3 Actual:Natal Decision
Mike Brown vs. Nam Phan – My Pick:Brown Decision Actual:Brown Decision
Johny Hendricks vs. Mike Pierce – My Pick:Hendricks TKO rd2 Actual:Hendricks Decision
Ivan Menjivar vs. Nick Pace – My Pick:Menjivar sub rd2 Actual:Menjivar Decision
Chad Mendes vs. Rani Yahya – My Pick:Mendes Decision Actual:Mendes Decision
Matt Hamill vs. Alexander Gustafsson – My Pick:Hamill TKO rd1 Actual:Gustaffson TKo rd2
Rory MacDonald vs. Mike Pyle – My Pick:MacDonald Decision Actual: Macdonald TKO rd1
Jorge Rivera vs. Constantinos Philippou – My Pick:Philippou TKo rd3 Actual:Philippou Decision
Brian Ebersole vs. Dennis Hallman – My Pick:Ebersole TKO rd2 Actual:Ebersole TKO rd1
Vitor Belfort vs. Yoshihiro Akiyama – My Pick:Belfort KO rd2 Actual:Belfort KO Rd1
Rashad Evans vs. Tito Ortiz – My Pick:Evans Decision Actual:Evans TKO rd2


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