UFC 133: "Evans vs. Ortiz 2" is all set to go down tomorrow night (August 6, 2011) live from the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Remember: MMAmania.com will provide LIVE updates with blow-by-blow, round-by-round commentary of the main card action on fight night, which is slated to air at 9 p.m. ET (with Facebook and Spike TV "Prelim" fights beginning at 6:30 and 8:00 p.m. ET, respectively).
In the headlining bout, two former light heavyweight champions will try to lay claim to the label of next 205-pound number one contender when "Suga" Rashad Evans takes on "The Huntington Beach Bad Boy" Tito Ortiz.
Who wins this rematch over four years in the making?
Speaking of rematches, Vitor Belfort desperately wants one against UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva. First, he'll have to prove himself worthy by taking on the dangerous Judoka Yoshihiro Akiyama in the night's co-main event.
There will certainly be a lot to talk about on Sunday morning. I've also included the current betting lines for each fight so you can get a feel for what the money has to say about the chances of each competitor.
Now, enough with the formalities ... let's get cracking:
205 lbs.: "Suga" Rashad Evans (15-1-1) vs. "The Huntington Beach Bad Boy" Tito Ortiz (16-8-1)
Nostradumbass predicts: Ah, yes, the Tito fight. Look, I love a story with a happy ending. I also love a massage with a happy ending but that's a story for another post. What we need to decide here is whether or not Ortiz is "back" and ready to make another run at the light heavyweight title.
I think not.
A little over 30 days ago we were talking about "The Huntington Beach Bad Boy" being forced to retire, now we're talking about a 205-pound title shot? That's the fan in us talking, not the realist. The realist knows that even though Ortiz got that comeback win he so desperately wanted against Ryan Bader back on July 2, he's still the same fighter that got "Hammered" by Matt Hamill last October.
I just don't see any way he wins this fight.
You want to tell me he's got his confidence back? That he's more motivated? You wanna throw the word "intangibles" around? I'll give you those.
But you'll have to give me the fact that Evans is younger, faster and more powerful than Ortiz from top to bottom. So too, was Bader, but Evans is a former champion with a proven track record, not a hungry young pup with a big right hand.
I know 36 doesn't sound that old in light of what Dan Henderson and Randy Couture have done at 40, but keep in mind that Tito has undergone multiple surgeries. All things considered, I think the best argument you can make against Evans is that he would have lost their 2007 fight minus the penalty.
A lot has changed since then.
"Suga" has steadily improved and Ortiz, while I don't necessarily believe he's gotten any worse, certainly hasn't gotten any better. Ordinarily I'd be concerned about Evans' layoff, particularly in a title fight, but for a three rounder that he'll control the pace of, I think he avoids the deep water.
Ortiz, regrettably, will not.
Betting lines (as of Aug. 5): Rashad Evans (-400) vs. Tito Ortiz (+300)
Prediction: Evans via unanimous decision
185 lbs.: Vitor "The Phenom" Belfort (19-9) vs. Yoshihiro "Sexyama" Akiyama (13-3)
Nostradumbass predicts: Fans have been clamoring for "the old Vitor" for years. Well, now you're gonna get him. Not because he'll resemble the young "Phenom" of the late nineties, but because he'll be, well, old. The Brazilian is 34 and the idea of him getting the middleweight title around his waist while Anderson Silva remains in power seems unlikely.
He's still good enough, and fast enough, to overcome Akiyama.
The sexy one is no spring chicken himself and I will say he poses a very real threat if he can implement his Judo and get this thing to the ground. I just don't see how he gets it there without getting lit up in the process.
"Sexyama" has the hands to make this bout competitive and holds his share of stoppages on the Japanese circuit, but unless he's been training under Steven Seagal, he just won't be quick enough to beat his foe to the punch on fight night.
Even if he survives the first round, his cardio will betray him in the second and third (again).
Akiyama has yet to enjoy the luxury of a UFC "gimmie" fight, jumping right into the deep end against Alan Belcher in his Octagon debut back in 2009. This latest pairing seems like a punishment from Joe Silva and on Saturday night the only "Fight Night" bonus he'll see is the one they award to Belfort for "Knockout of the Night."
Betting lines (as of Aug. 5): Vitor Belfort (-370) vs. Yoshihiro Akiyama (+280)
Prediction: Belfort via knockout
170 lbs.: Brian "Bad Boy" Ebersole (47-14-1) vs. Dennis "Superman" Hallman (50-13-2)
Nostradumbass predicts: If you combined these two gladiators you'd have over 100 fights and 25 years of experience. There has to be some kind of award for that. Oh wait, there is, and it goes to the UFC fans in the form of Dennis Hallman vs. Brian Ebersole.
Hallman is widely known as "that guy Matt Hughes couldn't beat" while Ebersole is the "guy with the hairy chest arrow who upset Chris Lytle." Those are the kinds of things that standout on a resume, no question, but each fighter brings so much more to the table.
Personally, I think this may be "Fight of the Night."
Think about this number for a second: Hallman has 39 submissions in 50 wins. That's a staggering percentage. Ebersole, while more balanced, has 33 stoppages in 47 wins. These guys not only know how to rumble, they know how to finish fights.
And I'm betting on "Superman."
Sure, part of that has to do with his nickname (this ain't science folks, I'm just a guy with a keyboard and an opinion) but I also think he's got more ways to win. I give Ebersole the edge on the feet but I don't see this thing staying upright long enough for him to secure a finish and when it goes south, my money is on Hallman.
Will it happen right away? I hope not, as I expect wall-to-wall action from bell-to-bell so I'm rooting for a third round finish. If and when it comes, it's going to be by tap, nap or snap.
Prediction: Hallman via submission
185 lbs.: Jorge "El Conquistador" Rivera (19-8) vs. Constantinos Philippou (7-2)
Nostradumbass predicts: For some reason, every Ring of Combat (ROC) veteran that makes their debut with the Nostradumbass seal of approval goes belly up on fight night. Philippou is no exception. I thought he would walk through Nick Catone but he ended up dropping a unanimous decision to "The Jersey Devil" last March.
Tomorrow night, it's redemption.
Jorge Rivera is, and has always been, a gamer. But I don't know if he's there any more from a mental perspective. I know he's 39, which isn't exactly geriatric, be he just looks tired. And what's with all that talk about retirement? Sounds like he's already accepted that the end is near.
That's not a place you want to be when the cage door shuts.
He's also coming off Loogey-Gate against Michael Bisping earlier this year and then had the Italian rug pulled out from under him (again) when original opponent, Alessio Sakara, came up lame in training camp. I know the whole "roll with the punches and play it cool" shtick is his thing, but I'm not convinced he's going to be at the top of his game when it matters most.
Is Philippou a world beater?
No, but he's got a great camp (Serra-Longo) and he continues to improve. I don't know if he'll finish "El Conquistador," but I do expect a three-round slugfest that sees him take home enough points for the "W."
Betting lines (as of Aug. 5): Jorge Rivera (-155) vs. Constantinos Philippou (+125)
Prediction: Philippou via split decision
170 lbs.: Rory "Ares" MacDonald (11-1) vs. Mike "Quicksand" Pyle (21-7-1)
Nostradumbass predicts: Two welterweight warriors coming off two stellar performances. So who's the real deal and who just had a good night? That's the big question coming into this 170-pound scrap that has a bigger impact on the division than many people want to believe.
That's because we've seen the same ol' faces at the top of the weight class for the past few years and these two will decide who the next entry is. I'm taking MacDonald, not because of the hype, which there is plenty, but because I think Pyle controls this bout and makes a mistake inside his comfort zone.
I mentioned MacDonald's hype and I think it's warranted, but I also don't want to go too crazy because he schooled Nate Diaz, who is a natural lightweight. It was undoubtedly a masterful performance, as was the fight against Condit prior to the end, but it's still early and we have to talk about what's been proven.
We know that Pyle can handle the young guns, like he did against John Hathaway prior to outpointing Ricardo Almeida. He's a great wrestler and an experienced veteran that I believe will use his mat work to control young "Ares."
That's where he'll falter.
I expect MacDonald to try and dominate the stand-up, forcing a "Quicksand" takedown. Once Pyle has control, which may be for the better part of the fight, I can see him getting comfortable and letting his guard down, even if it's just for a brief moment, and getting caught in a fight ending submission.
I know he prides himself on being a veteran, but a rookie mistake will cost him on fight night.
Betting lines (as of Aug. 5): Rory MacDonald (-300) vs. Mike Pyle (+230)
Prediction: MacDonald via submission
That's a wrap, folks.
Remember to come check us out after the show for all the latest results, recaps and coverage of UFC 133: "Evans vs Ortiz 2."
What do you think? Now it's your turn ... let us have it in the comments section and share your thoughts and picks for tomorrow night's event.