Photo by Esther Lin via MMAFighting.com
Could lightning really strike twice for Tito Ortiz?
When "The Huntington Beach Bad Boy" fell back early the second round of the UFC 133 main event bout, with his arms wrapped around the throat of Rashad Evans, the remote probability appeared real. Ortiz had finished Ryan Bader in similar fashion, with a guillotine choke, at UFC 132 just a few weeks earlier.
And here he was, in the center of the Octagon, squeezing "Suga's" neck with all his might, hoping that he could continue his Cinderella run back to MMA relevance. For just a few seconds, his story book ending seemed complete.
But then just like that, Evans wiggled his head free, signaling the beginning of the end for the former champion. Ortiz tells MMA Heat that he thought he had it:
"I had that choke and I was like, 'Oh, I got it!' I slipped to the kneebar and I was like, 'Oh, I got it!' Rashad was just a lot stronger than he was prior [in their first fight in 2007]. It showed that 14 months [of training] can really pay off. He took it seriously ... and it showed tonight. He was the better man. I guess you you can't fight a number one contender with 2.5 weeks of training."
Evans, shortly after the escape, pushed Ortiz into the fence and began to pour it on, using the ground and pound technique that Ortiz made so famous against him. Ortiz weathered the storm, but he just couldn't handle a vicious knee to the midsection that was absorbed as he attempted to get back to his feet.
Ortiz doubled over in agony and Evans delivered the final blows that forced the referee to step in and stop the action.
Even in defeat, Ortiz made fans believe, even if just for a few astonishing seconds, that he was indeed "back." He isn't, and may never be, and that's just fine.
It was fun while it lasted.