PHILADELPHIA, August 6 – In July of 2007, it was a stalemate. Four years later, Rashad Evans and Tito Ortiz met again, in the main event of UFC 133 at Wells Fargo Center Saturday night, and this time the judges weren’t necessary, as Evans looked to be in championship form in his first bout since May of 2010, as he stopped Ortiz in the second round.
Evans, the former UFC light heavyweight champion, is now expected to face the winner of September’s Jon Jones vs Quinton Jackson title bout in a quest to regain his crown, and he certainly looked ready for such a bout, but props must also be given to Ortiz, who took the bout on short notice after Phil Davis was pulled from the card due to injury, and stepped into the Octagon after fighting at UFC 132 in July against Ryan Bader.
Yet unlike that stirring win over Bader, tonight it was Evans who was not to be denied victory.
If you were looking for a contrast in pre-fight styles, you got a treat, as Evans was loose and relaxed and Ortiz appeared to be both tense and intense as he paced back and forth in the Octagon. But as soon as Bruce Buffer finished his introductions and referee Dan Miragliotta gave his instructions, both kicked into fight mode.
Ortiz opened up the bout with a kick, and the crowd was immediately in his corner as he looked to close the distance. Evans coolly walked the perimeter of the Octagon, waiting for Ortiz to make a mistake. In the second minute he shot the right hand that knocked out Chuck Liddell, but Ortiz avoided it, and with a little over three minutes left, “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” scored his first takedown. Evans stayed busy and made it up to his feet, and as he got Ortiz’ back against the fence, he unleashed lefts and rights to the head and body. Ortiz survived the assault and landed a couple hard knees, but Evans proceeded to pick Ortiz up and deliver an Octagon-rattling slam. From there, he got into side control and opened fire again, but the bell rang before Evans could score the spectacular finish.
Battered and bruised, but unbowed, Ortiz came out for round two, intent on turning things around after Evans’ late first round blitz. But after a confident Evans got his rhythm and fired off some strikes before attempting a takedown, Ortiz responded with the same guillotine choke that finished off Bader last month. After a few tense moments, Evans escaped and resumed with his ground and pound assault. Ortiz, trapped, tried to pull out all the stops to escape, but Evans’ pressure and attack was relentless, and there was little doubt that his only intention coming into tonight’s bout was to finish. At the four minute mark, Ortiz found some daylight and tried to lock up Evans’ leg, but “Suga” easily escaped and then delivered a knee to the solar plexus that hurt Ortiz badly. A follow up barrage of punches was just window dressing, and Miragliotta stopped the fight at the 4:48 mark.
Evans improves to 21-1-1 with the win; Ortiz falls to 17-9-1. Both men received $70,000 bonuses for what was named Fight of the Night.