With all the injuries that have plagued the upcoming UFC 133 event, fans have somehow been blessed with a relevant light heavyweight main event rematch with serious divisional implications.
Tito Ortiz and Rashad Evans are finally ready to settle the score after a controversial draw in their first fight that left both men with a bad taste in their mouths.
There will be an opportunity for verbal fireworks today (July 28, 2011) at 2 p.m. ET as both men will be in attendance on a media conference call to discuss their upcoming headlining bout on August 6, 2011.
Evans has won (and lost) the UFC light heavyweight title since these two last met and is currently considered the number one contender for the 205 pound belt. Ortiz is again back in the picture after knocking off top 10 ranked fighter and The Ultimate Fighter season eight winner Ryan Bader less than four weeks ago at UFC 132.
MMAmania.com will deliver up-to-the-second live updates of the special conference call after the jump:
Brian Hemminger here. The call is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. ET.
Rashad Evans: I'm very anxious to get back to the cage. It's been a long 14 months, a lot of up and down and I'm looking forward to getting in there and competing again. I never thought I'd be out this long but things happen. I'm glad Tito Ortiz took the fight.
Tito Ortiz: I got right back to camp again after Bader so it's been like 5 straight months of training for Rashad now. Training is six hour days, six days a week, it's a lot of work. I wanted to spend some time with my kids, I haven't had any opportunity to see them much because of the constant training. What changed my mind was I realized I was in good shape, I never got touched, I'm strong, had no injuries, my back and neck are great, no problems. I decided, "you know what? Let's do this."
Tito Ortiz: I don't question my shot, I don't question my takedowns, i don't question anything anymore. I credit that to the surgeries
Rashad Evans: I think Tito's definitely got a lot better in his striking. In his last fight he showed good movement and had good combinations. I'm not too worried about that. What I need to worry about is my own execution. If I execute, it doesn't matter what Tito Ortiz does.
Rashad Evans: It's not personal. This is more for myself because I've been out for so long. I just want to really feel good in there, take my time, be patient and not try to rush anything. I don't have it in my mind where I want to take the fight yet. I want to react to what Tito's doing.
Rashad Evans: I felt horrible about my performance the last time. It was one of those fights I wanted to get back. I didn't have the experience at that level yet and I hadn't wrapped my mind around the situation yet. I feel I'm much better off now.
Tito Ortiz: With me, my image, it's one of those things that people love me when I'm winning. At the same time, there's a lot of haters. There are people that support me and I support them right back. I go out there and compete and try to get my hand raised. The last five years had been really frustrating, decision loss after decision loss after close decision loss. Things between me and Dana are really really good right now. We're really happy. It's nice to have a lot of positive reinforcement because of my last performance.
Rashad Evans: Training has been great. We've got a lot of great training partners out here. I was not faking that with Greg Jackson's camp. I've found that being here is very good. We've got a great team and a great gym and it's amazing. I get great training practices and it makes the grind of training that much easier and it makes you grow as an athlete that much more.
Rashad Evans: There's no reason for me to go back to Jackson's. The training is better here than it was over there.
Tito Ortiz: I think we're both a lot different fighters. Rashad's shot is a lot better and he's gotten faster. I've gotten stronger and I don't have an injury anymore. It's nice to not have a back problem anymore. I'm hungry man. I don't feel like a 40 year old man. I feel like a 30 year old man who's in great shape. I made the mistake of grabbing the fence last time and I'm gonna try to correct the mistakes I did and not let him get in on me and do what I do best, punish him.
Rashad Evans: You really need a lot of time to make sure you get the one on on one and I'm really seeing different things. With so many people at Jackson's, it was getting harder and harder to get that time. I feel like it's one of those things like, "how much can I reinvent myself when I'm pretty much learning the exact same things." It felt good to come out here to something fresh, people outside the box, people coming out from all parts of the world to train with me and that was a really big part of this camp.
Tito Ortiz: I'm a fighter, my job is to fight. I'm going to go in there and do my job. I just want to do what I do best which is to fight. I came off the last fight and bounced back into training camp right again. I'm prepared for the best Rashad and it's gonna be a three round war.
Tito Ortiz: My advantage will be my heart. He's fast, I'll give him that. His boxing has gotten better. When it comes to fight time, we'll find out.
Tito Ortiz: Liddell was a champion at 36, Couture was a champion at 36. Why do I have to go? I should go on my own terms. I'm healthy, I've got the heart and determination to go in there every day and push myself. People don't see the training that we do and how hard it is the how physically grueling it is. Maybe in the next couple years we'll see. I wouldn't want to be fighting at 40 years old, no way. I just want to get in there and compete with Rashad Evans and I want to get a world title around my waist again. There's nothing I'd rather do than that right now.
Tito Ortiz: I haven't had any problems at all since my neck surgery. I'm a fighter and I want to compete. I stopped Ryan Bader in one minute 56 seconds which is something Jonny Bones Jones couldn't do.
Tito Ortiz: I've been doing it since '97 and I paved the way for a lot of fighters. I don't need to talk trash anymore, my name matters already.
Rashad Evans: The Ultimate Fighter show was so much, to be a part of that, having a chance to compete on the show and coach on the show, it was truly a great experience. It was something that helped the sport grow a lot. We had guys like Tito Ortiz, Chuck Liddell and Randy Couture that helped pave the way. I saw them when I was in college. I will always picture Chuck and Randy when they were at their toughest. This sport has grown a lot but it's gonna grow a lot more because we're not done yet. It's gonna be a whole 'nother entertainment vibe with the hype and build-up like the big boxing fights.
Rashad Evans: I don't like Jon Jones. Let's leave it at that.
Tito Ortiz: Jon Jones is the champion, he's great. He's a huge threat, he's fast, a great boxer and that's why he's the champion. Before anything though, I have to fight Rashad. It's time to shine for me, all the pressure is on Rashad. He's supposed to beat Tito Ortiz and this is my time.
Rashad Evans: When you put that much training on your body, it does a lot of damage. I pulled a muscle when I fought Thiago Silva and I went back into camp to fight Rampage and I still had the same pulled muscle. The time off allowed my body to heal up and to get better. I've had a chance to train every day and just enjoy myself and really make a lifestyle of the training aspect.
Tito Ortiz: Even with the loss meaning I'd be gone, there was no pressure on me. Bader was a 6-1 favorite and he had all the pressure. He was supposed to win. Every one of my fights, I compete against guys all the way to the end of the bell. I knew I was gonna stop Bader. I knew one way or another, I was gonna stop him. This fight is the same situation. I knew I was gonna win against Bader and all the pressure is on Rashad again because he has to win to stay the top guy.
Tito Ortiz: Ali and Hulk Hogan were two of the biggest influences in my life. The fight with Frank Shamrock was when I really knew that I wanted to be a fighter.
Rashad Evans: I've missed the emotional roller coaster. It's like a trip. you get very introverted and your mind takes you on a journey because there's times where you second guess yourself and it's amazing to overcome all those thoughts, all those feelings and try to harness it into one moment, that moment where you get your hand raised and realize it was all worth it. All that blood and sweat and anxiety and you cant' wait to do it again. That's why it's so addictive and makes it hard for anyone to walk away. That's the hardest thing to walk away from, that feeling, the emotional high and that's what I've been missing.
Rashad Evans: I'm not worried about what people are gonna say. There's nothing like having the win, having people talk about it, buzzing about it, family coming over. It feels like it happened so long ago. It's like an out of body experience. Just having that feeling, being done with it and it's the journey I miss and I can't wait to get back in there.
Tito Ortiz: After Bader, I was just thinking, "finally, thank God." All my questions had been answered, my training partners were right, everyone was right. It felt so good. I felt so strong and I feel really, really good. I look back at that fight and I think, "hard work pays off." I'm gonna keep myself focused and keep my nose to the grindstone and stay sharp. I can't explain that feeling because there was so much going through my mind. The months before the fight I thought about it a lot but the day I woke up before the fight I felt really calm. I was trying to get my lunch money back. This guy ripped me off and I wasn't going to let him go. It was my first meal in a long time after a long winter. That's what it felt like. You can't explain that feeling, it's like no other and I can't wait to do it again.
Tito Ortiz: I'm just very, very thankful for my skills, the hands of my doctor. I used to feel like an old man and when I trained with Frank Shamrock he explained that feeling too, the aches and bruises. I was worried that day had come for me but I feel so good now, it was the injuries. I'm in great shape. I'm ready to do six five minute rounds with 30 seconds rest and I'm in great shape. I proved a lot of people right with my last fight. I'm adapting to the new generation.