Saturday, 7 January 2012

UFC 133 Rashad Evans vs Tito Ortiz 2 in retrospect

Rashad Evans’ systematic destruction of Tito Ortiz, in their headlining fight at UFC 133 in Philadelphia, was beautiful to watch. The former light heavyweight champion opened cautiously, taking his time to find his rhythm after an absence of fourteen months from the octagon, but was quickly pressured by Ortiz looking for an early take down. Evans managed to weather the storm and then unleashed a barrage of punches on Ortiz which had the Huntington Beach Bad Boy covering up for dear life. There was no stopping Evans from here on out as he took Ortiz to the matt in both rounds one and two and unleashed some calculated ground and pound, eventually stopping him in the second with a well placed knee to the solar plexus followed by a flurry of punches.

While this victory has got the critics talking about Evans in a positive light, I feel it is only fair to keep the context of the fight in perspective. Ortiz, a legend of the sport, has a list of accomplishments behind his name which often mislead the inexperienced spectator. Yes, he is a former light heavyweight champion, and yes, he has the record for the most title defences, but one must remember that he is not that fighter anymore and that prior to his win last month against Ryan Bader at UFC 132 Ortiz had not won a fight in almost five years. Couple this with the fact that he took the fight on less than three weeks notice and the picture becomes a lot clearer. While a victor is never a foregone conclusion in MMA, Rashad Evans’ absolutely had to dominate Tito Ortiz, there was no other probable outcome. Evans (16-1-1) did exactly what was expected of him, nothing more.

This fight, whilst a great warm up fight for Evans after his long layoff, did nothing to further enhance my opinion of the fighter ahead of his possible title shot with friend-turned-foe Jon “Bones” Jones. If anything, the question it raised for me, on seeing the size difference between Ortiz and Evans, was whether it is physically possible for Evans to enter the octagon with a man so much bigger than himself. It has a David versus Goliath feel, except in this rendition we know that both fighters have both the skills and the attitude to win, both fighters have held the coveted LHW strap, and both fighters have talked enough smack which they desperately need to back up.


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