The world was shocked when Tito Ortiz beat Ryan Bader at UFC 132 on July 2. Ortiz was essentially guaranteed to be walking in to his last fight with the UFC when he entered the ring with Bader, then he turned his career and life around with a crazy, first-round win.
Then, thanks to other fighters backing out with injuries, Ortiz (16-8-1) was offered the chance to headline this weekend’s UFC 133 in a rematch with Rashad Evans. He will be fighting just over a month after his win over Bader, but Ortiz took the fight anyway. The question now becomes, can he actually win?
Evans (15-1-1) was one of the world’s best light heavyweights before a knee injury forced him out of a title fight with Mauricio Rua at UFC 128. Friend and training partner Jon Jones stepped in for Evans and beat Rua to become UFC Light Heavyweight Champion. Jones and Evans were originally scheduled to headline this weekend’s pay-per-view, but Jones was forced out of action with a hand injury. Rising prospect Phil Davis originally replaced Jones, but Davis pulled out of the bout with a knee injury. That’s when Ortiz entered the picture.
Evans and Ortiz fought to a draw at UFC 73 on July 7, 2007. Since then, Ortiz lost three fights, then beat Bader. Evans, on the other hand, has won four of five fights, and won the UFC Light Heavyweight title, before losing it in his first defense against Lyoto Machida.
The 31-year-old Evans hasn’t fought since May of 2010, so he’s essentially in the opposite predicament as Ortiz. Tito may not have gotten enough time to recover from his last fight, while Evans is sure to show some ring rust.
Ortiz looks to finally be healthy after years of battling various injuries. He showed in his last fight that he still has powerful hands, as he knocked Bader to the ground with a few solid punches before submitting him with a guillotine choke. That could mean problems for Evans. But, again, “Sugar” is one of the best in the world at 205. He has huge hands and is a very dangerous striker.
We think Ortiz has a chance in this fight. That said, Evans is a huge step up from Bader for “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy.” He’ll be a huge underdog once again, and with good reason. But something tells us Ortiz will be fine with that situation.
If Ortiz beats Evans, you’d have to think he’d be one more win away from a potential title shot. If Evans takes out Ortiz, he’ll probably get a title shot in his next fight.