Rashad Evans and Tito Ortiz traveled down remarkably different paths after their fight at UFC 73: "Stacked" on July 2, 2007, ended in a disappointing draw. But somehow, someway those paths cross again tonight (Aug. 6, 2011) at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
During their time apart, Evans went on to win, and then lose, the 205-pound championship. He currently sits as the number one division contender. Ortiz, meanwhile, underwent major back surgery, was released from the promotion, returned and won just one fight ... four weeks ago.
It's an unlikely pairing at this moment in their careers, but it serves as the UFC 133 main event nonetheless. And their individual circumstances could not be more different, yet the same, than they were four years ago.
Back then, Ortiz was looking to rebound from a loss to Chuck Liddell in his failed bid to reclaim the world title, which he carried for three years. Evans was an up-and-coming undefeated prospect looking to get in the contender mix. "The Huntington Beach Bad Boy" was insulted with the match up. After all, who had "Suga" really beat at that point in his career ... Sean Salmon?
For Ortiz, there was much risk, little reward. The former world champion was supposed to win.
A lose-lose position that Evans now find himself in tonight.
If Evans can't emerge victorious later this evening, he can kiss his title shot goodbye. If he wins, well, he was supposed to win because Ortiz isn't even supposed here -- he was the last-minute replacement for Phil Davis, who tweaked his knee in training and was unable to compete this weekend.
It's a difficult spot.
But after taking a year-long layoff, missing out on a title shot earlier this year because of an injury, Evans is desperate just to punch someone. All the pressure is on him to perform tonight.