UFC 133 Fight Card: Rashad Evans vs. Tito Ortiz, Early Head To Toe Breakdown
Evans needs to get past Ortiz to finally get his crack at the light heavyweight championship. He was supposed to fight for the belt back at UFC 128, but was injured and forced to pull out of the fight. Evans was then in line to face Jon Jones for the belt, but Jones withdrew due to a lingering hand injury. A win over Tito will all but guarantee Evans the next crack at the belt.
Ortiz has to prove that his victory over Ryan Bader at UFC 132 wasn't a fluke. Tito may have won his first fight in five years, but he was still very close to being fired and a loss now could put him right back in that position. Also, The Huntington Beach Bad Boy wants to make his way towards a title shot and a win over Rashad could put him right in the mix.
Let's see how these two stack up...
As far as experience goes, I expect these two are about even.
They've both had the pressure of being in the main event before, both faced the best in the world and are both former champions.
I don't expect that either fighter will be able to bring anything to the table that the other has not seen before.
There's no doubt in my mind that Rashad can go three rounds comfortably. His last two fights against 'Rampage' Jackson and Thiago Silva both went the distance and Evans looked like he still had gas left in the tank at the end of each fight.
Tito was a cardio freak at one point in his career, but these days his gas tank is questionable. His cardio looked absolutely horrible in his second fight with Forrest Griffin, by the third round he looked like he could barely move. He also seemed to tire out in his bout with Matt Hamill.
That said, Ortiz has had back surgery since then and claims that he's in the best shape he has been in, in a long time.
Maybe Tito is back in great shape, maybe he isn't. There's no way of knowing. Rashad, however, we know will be able to go all three rounds without gassing.
Edge: Rashad Evans
This one isn't even close.
Tito has never been known as a striker and chiefly uses his boxing to set up takedowns. His technique isn't bad by any means, but he's relatively one dimensional and isn't known for his power.
Against Ryan Bader, Ortiz' striking looked better than we've seen it before and he did manage to drop Ryan with a big right hand. So, Tito may be improving, but his hands are still definitely not his biggest weapon. He also throws very few kicks.
Evans started off his career as a wrestler, but his boxing has improved in leaps and bounds over the years.
Rashad has several highlight reel knockouts under his belt over the likes of Chuck Liddell, Forrest Griffin and Sean Salmon.
Evans' boxing is very fast and very crisp and he has knockout power in both his hands. It should be relatively easy for him to win the boxing portions of this matchup.
Edge: Rashad Evans
Tito and Rashad are both difficult fighters to put away.
However, Evans' chin has looked a little bit suspect in his last few fights. Quinton Jackson and Thiago Silva were both able to put Rashad in serious trouble using their hands and Lyoto Machida knocked Evans out. There's no shame in being knocked out by Machida, though. He has deceptively heavy hands.
Ortiz has been TKO'd just two times in his career, both coming at the hands of a prime Chuck Liddell and each time it took vicious combinations to put him away.
It's close but...
Edge: Tito Ortiz
Based on each fighter's background and what I saw the first time they fought, I expect the grappling to be a wash.
Basically, both guys have really good takedowns, but not the best takedown defense; if either fighter shoots for a takedown, I suspect they'll get it.
With their abilities so evenly matched it will probably come down to who sets up their takedowns better using striking and who is a little bit quicker.
Rashad will likely be the fighter who does better at using other aspects of his game to aid his wrestling, but as far as pure grappling ability goes, these two are pretty even.
Evans has a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, but that doesn't mean that much, given that we almost never see him go for submissions.
Ortiz is not ranked in BJJ.
These two work in similar ways when they take a fight to the ground. You'll rarely see either one of them going for a submission and you'll very rarely see either submitted, as they both have excellent defense.
Basically, both of them have good enough defense that they shouldn't be able to submit each other.
The only way this one ends in a submission is if one of them gets rocked by a big shot first.
Let's be honest, people are putting a little bit too much stock in Tito for beating Ryan Bader.
Bader is a tough opponent, sure, but he's not one of the elite.
Rashad is a big step up in competition for Ortiz and I'm not sure he's ready for it.
I see Evans using his speed and agility to dodge Tito's takedowns and keep this fight standing. On the feet, he'll pick Tito apart.
Rashad would probably do well to throw few kicks in order to avoid getting taken down. He should also use his footwork to circle Ortiz, rather than moving straight forward or straight back.
Realistically, if Evans fights a smart fight, I don't think there's anything Tito can do to beat him.
Rashad is the best opponent Tito has faced in years and I expect that Evans will be too fast and too agile for Ortiz to deal with.
Evans might get the KO, but Tito is hard to put away. I see it going to a decision.
Winner: Rashad Evans via Unanimous Decision