UFC 133: Early Analysis, Insights and Predictions for All the Night's Action
UFC 133 will be held at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on August 6.
Headlining the night's action will be a light heavyweight matchup between former UFC light heavyweight champion "Suga" Rashad Evans and the resurgence of "The Huntington Beach Bad Boy" Tito Ortiz.
Additional main card action includes two welterweight bouts between Rory MacDonald and Mike Pyle, as well as Dennis Hallman versus Mike Ebersole.
A hard-hitting middleweight duel between Jorge Rivera and Constantinos Phillipou will be sure to entertain the Philadelphia crowd.
The final main card matchup of the evening is a middleweight contest between two veterans of the Octagon. In his first fight since his knockout defeat at the foot of Anderson Silva, Vitor Belfort will challenge Yoshihiro Akiyama.
Please follow along as I dissect all the night's fights and provide analysis and predictions for whom will be the victor at UFC 133.
I welcome your comments.
Facebook Fight No. 1: Rafael Natal vs Paul Bradley
The night's action in Philadelphia will begin with a middleweight contest between the Brazilian Rafael "Sapo" Natal and the American Paul "The Gentleman" Bradley.
Natal, a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt fighting out of New York City, has a 12-3 overall MMA record with seven submission victories.
Strong on the ground with his jiu-jitsu talent, Natal will be looking to secure a submission win over Bradley.
With an 18-2 overall MMA record, Bradley has the experience advantage over Natal.
A former University of Iowa wrestler, his strengths as a grappler will play into Natal's strengths as a submission specialist.
Needing to keep this fight standing, "The Gentleman" will look to knock out Natal in the striking department while attempting to minimize any successful take-down attempts by "Sapo."
In the end, even though Bradley is balanced in his skill-set, Natal's distinct advantage on the ground will ultimately secure the Brazilian a decision victory.
Winner: Rafael Natal via unanimous decision victory
Facebook Fight No. 2: Mike Brown vs Nam Phan
Facebook fight No. 2 will be a fantastic matchup between previous WEC featherweight champion Mike Brown and the extremely dynamic Nam Phan.
Brown, a durable, solid and strong wrestler with better-than-average stand-up skills, has defeated the likes of Urijah Faber, Leonard Garcia and Jeff Curran.
On a two-fight losing skid, Brown will need a victory over Phan to remain employed in the very deep UFC featherweight division.
Opposing Brown is the 16-8 Nam Phan.
A balanced fighter possessing good stand-up skills, a solid submission game and the conditioning to fight the distance with any competitor, Phan is a rising star within the UFC featherweight division.
Coming off of a controversial decision loss to Leonard Garcia in December of 2010, Phan exhibited an evolved skill-set in his matchup with Garcia and will need every advantage against the tough-nosed Brown.
Knowing the ramifications of a third consecutive loss inside the famed Octagon, Brown should throw caution to the wind and do whatever it takes to secure a victory.
Understanding the brevity of this matchup with Phan, I believe that Brown will be declared the victor in this highly contested back-and-forth featherweight battle.
Winner: Mike Brown via split-decision victory
Facebook Fight No. 3: Johny Hendricks vs Mike Pierce
In the night's first welterweight bout, two strong wrestlers in Johny Hendricks and Mike "Megatron" Pierce will look to climb one step closer to the current 170-pound UFC champion Georges St-Pierre.
Hendricks, an incredible collegiate wrestler at Oklahoma State University, brings his 10-1 overall MMA record with six knockouts to the Octagon.
Eerily similar, Pierce was also a very skilled amateur wrestler who currently possesses a 12-3 overall MMA record with six knockouts.
Both competitors are equally versed in the grappling department, and both fighters have power in their punches.
The difference in this matchup will be the ability to stifle the opposition's take-down and land clean punches on their feet.
This matchup will be a gift for those viewing on Facebook considering the talent level of these two fighters.
In the end, I predict that Johny Hendricks will have a slight advantage over Mike Pierce and move one step closer to competing against the top-tier talent within the welterweight division.
Winner: Johny Hendricks via unanimous decision
Facebook Fight No. 4: Ivan Menjivar vs Nick Pace
The final Facebook fight features a bantamweight duel between Ivan "The Pride of El Salvador" Menjivar and Nick Pace.
Training out of the Tristar Gym in Montreal, Quebec, Canada with Georges St-Pierre, Kenny Florian, Miguel Torres and a host of other accomplished fighters, Menjivar will bring his 22-8 overall MMA record to the Octagon this Saturday.
A dynamic fighter who is talented in all aspects of the fight game, "The Pride of El Salvador" has acquired nine knockout wins, eight submission victories and five decisions in his favor.
Menjivar will need to utilize his balanced skill-set against the equally talented Nick Pace.
The lesser-known Pace has only loss on his record coming via a unanimous decision defeat at the hands of fellow UFC bantamweight competitor Demetrious Johnson.
Pace will more than likely be looking to secure a tapout win over Menjivar. In 22 professional fights, however, Menjivar has only been submitted on one occasion.
If this fight stays standing, Menjivar will have an advantage. Additionally, Menjivar's ground-and-pound is excellent and can cause serious damage to his opponent.
Even though Nick Pace is a tremendous fighter, I believe that the balanced skill-set of Ivan Menjivar will be too much for the Tristar gym pupil to overcome.
Winner: Ivan Menjivar via Round 3 TKO
Spike TV Fight No. 1: Chad Mendes vs Rani Yahya
Chad "Money" Mendes, part of Team Alpha Male out of Sacramento, California with Urijah Faber, is currently the No. 3 featherweight fighter on the planet.
A tremendous wrestler with ever-improving stand-up skills, Mendes will bring his undefeated 10-0 record to the Octagon this Saturday against Yahya.
A durable, rugged, yet dynamic and elusive fighter, Mendes is capable of securing a take-down and brutalizing his opposition with ground-and-pound or keeping the fight standing and landing crisp, clean boxing combinations.
Yahya, possessing a 16-6 overall MMA record, is a wizard in the jiu-jitsu department amassing 14 submission victories.
A former Abu-Dhabi submission grappling champion, Yahya's ground game parallels that of Demian Maia inside the Octagon.
Stylistically, Mendes' strengths as a wrestler fall in Yahya's strengths as a submission specialist.
Knowing this, "Money" will need to keep this fight standing and defeat the Brazilian on their feet.
The balanced skill-set of Mendes will overcome any threat posed by Yahya, and "Money" will raise his undefeated record to 11-0.
Winner: Chad Mendes via unanimous decision
Spike TV Fight No. 2: Matt Hamill vs Alexander Gustafsson
The evening's first light heavyweight matchup features Matt "The Hammer" Hamill versus Alexander "The Mauler" Gustafsson.
Hamill, a last-minute replacement for the injured Vladimir Matyushenko, will be looking to rebound from his unanimous decision defeat at the hands of Quinton "Rampage" Jackson at UFC 130.
A solid wrestler with good boxing skills and an excellent chin, Hamill's development in his stand-up game will be tested by Gustafsson.
At 6'5" tall, Gustafsson will have a notable size advantage over Hamill. With an overall MMA record of 11-1 with seven knockout and three submission victories, "The Mauler" has shown hints of stardom both on his feet and on the ground.
Looking to make a name for himself in the light heavyweight division, a victory over Hamill will serve as a launching pad for Gustafsson to compete on the main card platform.
Even though Hamill has the experience advantage and the wrestling accolades, Gustafsson's ability to dominate on his feet and finish a fight with a submission will secure the Swede a victory in Philadelphia.
Winner: Alexander Gustafsson via Round 3 TKO
Main Card Fight No. 1: Rory MacDonald vs Mike Pyle
The night's second welterweight contest features the Canadian Rory "Ares" MacDonald versus the American Mike "Quicksand" Pyle.
MacDonald, a highly touted practitioner, dominated Nate Diaz for three rounds in his previous fight.
Recently joining the Tristar Gym, home of Georges St-Pierre, MacDonald is a definite threat within the welterweight division.
An excellent grappler, striker and jiu-jitsu practitioner, "Ares" has very little holes in his game.
Looking to exploit a weakness of MacDonald, Pyle will be bringing his 21-7 overall MMA record to UFC 133.
A Muay-Thai and jiu-jitsu specialist, Pyle currently trains out of Xtreme Couture in Las Vegas with the likes of Gray Maynard and Forrest Griffin.
Potential for Fight of the Night honors, these two competitors are both excellent on their feet and tremendously gifted on the ground.
Both have excellent camps and tremendous training partners in preparation for their night in Philadelphia.
Giving a slight edge to MacDonald only because of his wave of momentum, I feel that this fight may go either way.
Winner: Rory MacDonald via split-decision
Main Card Fight No. 2: Jorge Rivera vs Constantinos Phillipou
Jorge "El Conquistador" Rivera takes on Constantinos "Cyprus" Phillipou in a middleweight matchup.
Rivera is known for his heavy hands and desire to stand and trade. With 13 knockouts in 19 victories, "El Conquistador" does not hide the fact that he wants to knockout his opposition.
A solid stand-up striker with excellent boxing skills, Rivera will want to keep this fight on their feet.
Conversely, Phillipou trains out of the Serra-Longo camp in New York and is a well-established grappler with a propensity to stand and trade.
Not the evolved striker like Rivera, Phillipou does possess power in his punches and has amassed four knockouts in seven career victories.
Taking a step up in competition, "Cyprus" will need all his tools against the experienced and hard-hitting "El Conquistador."
Definitely an exciting matchup with a potential for Knockout of the Night honors, Rivera's stand-up skills will overwhelm the less-experienced Phillipou providing openings and ultimately a TKO victory for the veteran.
Winner: Jorge Rivera via Round 2 TKO
Main Card Fight No. 3: Dennis Hallman vs Brian Ebersole
Dennis "Superman" Hallman challenges Brian "Bad Boy" Ebersole in a welterweight matchup.
Halllman, with an astounding 66 career fights, has amassed 50 victories, of which 38 have come by submission.
A grappler with an excellent submission grappling game, Hallman is established in the stand-up department, yet looks to secure victories via tapout.
Ebersole, like Hallman, has fought in an amazing 60 professional contests. More the balanced fighter when compared to Hallman, Ebersole possesses 13 knockouts, 20 submission victories and 14 decision wins.
On an impressive eight fight win streak including victories over Chris Lytle and Carlos Newton, Ebersole is a relatively unknown within the UFC even though his record speaks volumes about his talents.
Truly, this fight could go either way with Submission of the Night honors up for grabs. Because Hallman's level of competition is slightly greater than Ebersole's and the fact that Hallman has never been submitted in his 66 fights, I will favor "Superman" in this matchup.
Winner: Dennis Hallman via Round 3 submission (rear-naked choke)
Main Card Fight No. 4: Vitor Belfort vs Yoshihiro Akiyama
Main card fight No. 4 will be an epic battle between two seasoned veterans in the UFC middleweight division and has the potential for either Knockout or Fight of the Night honors.
"The Phenom" Vitor Belfort will bring his lightening fast punches and knockout power to the cage against the iron chin and judo brilliance of Yoshihiro "Sexyama" Akiyama.
Last we saw of Belfort, he was being awakened by smelling salts after a knockout defeat at the foot of Anderson Silva back in February.
Always dangerous with his hand speed and boxing prowess, "The Phenom" will be looking to capitalize on Akiyama's loose stand-up defense, which exposes the Japanese star to a relentless beating.
12-2-2 in his last 16 fights with three subsequent Fight of the Night bonuses, "Sexyama" is known for his brazen style inside the Octagon, showmanship and willingness to take chances.
This style cost him two back-to-back defeats to top-tier talent inside the middleweight division against both Chris Leben and Michael Bisping.
If Akiyama is flashy and does not box with tight defense, Belfort will pick apart the superstar and dominate "Sexyama."
In the end, when all the risks are taken and a winner's hand is raised, "The Phenom" will be back in the winner's circle and once again climbing the ranks of the UFC middleweight division to compete for the championship.
Winner: Vitor Belfort via Round 2 TKO
Main Card Fight No. 5: Rashad Evans vs Tito Ortiz
Highlighting UFC 133 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on August 6 will be a light heavyweight contest between two former champions, "Suga" Rashad Evans and "The Huntington Beach Bad Boy" Tito Ortiz.
Creating a media frenzy outside of the Octagon with his Twitter battles and opinionated comments regarding both Jon Jones and Quinton Jackson, Evans' media tornado outside of the Octagon has not affected his performance inside.
No other adjective describes Rashad Evans greater than consistent. He is consistently prepared for his matchups, delivers excellent performances each time he steps foot inside the Octagon and is consistently enhancing his overall skill-set.
Looking to secure the No. 1 challenger ranking with a victory over Ortiz, "Suga" will definitely bring his A game to the Octagon this Saturday.
The resurgence of Tito Ortiz may reach a legendary status if he defeats Evans in Philadelphia.
Resurrecting his career with a first round submission victory over the tough light heavyweight prospect Ryan Bader at UFC 132, Ortiz accepted this main event bout on short notice, looking to capitalize on his current momentum in the famed Octagon.
Both fighters are talented grapplers and above average strikers. The difference in this matchup lies with Evans' movement and ability to capitalize on an opening in a moment's notice.
Defeating both Chuck Liddell and Forrest Griffin with this strategy, Evans will look to keep Ortiz off-balance with his movement and strike without hesitation when a mistake is made by "The Huntington Beach Bad Boy."
As much as I would like to witness a strong comeback in his career by Ortiz, I feel that Evans' talent is too much for aging veteran to overcome.
When the main event is complete and the sweat is wiped and the blood is clotted, "Suga" Rashad Evans will once again have his hand raised in victory and will be next in line to challenge the current UFC light heavyweight champion, Jon "Bones" Jones for the title.
Winner: Rashad Evans via unanimous decision