UFC 133 is in the books, and the clouds that have been around the light heavyweight division for nearly 15 months seem to finally be clearing, as Rashad Evans became the undisputed No. 1 contender by pounding Tito Ortiz into submission.
Evans will face the winner of Jon Jones and Quinton "Rampage" Jackson probably in February or March. Despite being away from the octagon for 14 months, Evans looked crisp, sharp and on his game.
As good as Evans looked, he was not the only person to stand out tonight, but there were also a number of fighters that got knocked down a peg or two this evening.
Let's take a look at some of the winners and losers coming out of UFC 133.
The young Canadian fighter had been relatively under the radar until tonight. Boasting an impressive 11-1 record, MacDonald's only defeat came against welterweight contender Carlos Condit in what was dubbed "fight of the night."
After tonight's impressive performance though, MacDonald is now officially on the map, ground-and-pounding veteran Mike Pyle in a first-round TKO victory. Now 3-1 in the UFC, MacDonald will certainly get a stiffer test in his next bout.
If he can put together another 1-2 dominant wins though, MacDonald will quickly move himself up the ladder.
Matt Hamill has been a feel good story in the UFC, being an upper level light heavyweight fighter despite the fact he is deaf. He's had a very decent record in the UFC, going 9-4, with losses against top fighters like Michael Bisping, Rich Franklin and Rampage Jackson.
However, after tonight's loss to up-and-coming fighter Alexander Gustafsson, you have to wonder if he has peaked in the UFC.
Hamill lost in a second-round TKO tonight, and one has to wonder where he goes next. He clearly is not up to the level of the top contenders, but now, he's losing to prospects.
If Hamill loses again, he may be a cut casualty.
A lot of new age UFC fans never got to fully appreciate Vitor Belfort in his younger years when he was winning tournaments in the early days of the UFC. Belfort was beating down foes at just 19 years of age.
He left the UFC in 2005 after losing to Tito Ortiz and did not return until 2009 beating Rich Franklin. His next fight didn't come for 16 months when he lasted only three minutes and 25 seconds in a defeat against Anderson Silva.
People tonight, though, got a taste of the incredible talent Belfort still possesses in beating down Yoshihiro Akiyama tonight. Though he landed no one single punch, his speed tore Akiyama apart.
With this win, Belfort put himself back on the shortlist of contenders for Silva's middleweight title.
One thing I always enjoyed about Akiyama was the fact he came out to very unique entrance music—a operatic piece by Sarah Brightman and Andrea Bocelli called "Time To Say Goodbye."
While he was just 1-2 in the UFC, every fight the Japanese star had participated in was given the fight of the night award by Dana White. Sadly tonight, the only award he would have gotten was most anemic.
Akiyama landed virtually no shots on Vitor Belfort tonight, and the shot that knocked him to the ground looked like the softest knockdown blow since Forrest Griffin got knocked out by a soft jab from Anderson Silva.
This will be an interesting decision by Dana White and the UFC. Akiyama is now 1-3 and just got pretty much brutalized by Belfort. However, he's had three very entertaining fights, and he's an absolute superstar in Japan.
He may get one more shot, but it will most likely be on the under-card or on a free show on Versus.
Perhaps no fighter made a bigger name for himself tonight than Brian Ebersole. At just 30 years old, he's fought in a staggering 64 professional fights, winning 48 of them after tonight's win. He made his debut at UFC 127, in Sydney, Australia, beating veteran Chris Lytle in a surprise unanimous decision.
Tonight, he fought another UFC veteran, Dennis Hallman and just seconds into the fight, it looked like Ebersole was going to be choked out. After some brilliant defense though, the Australian turned the tables and began a viscous ground and pound that essentially knocked Hallman out cold.
Ebersole won by TKO in the first round and now boasts two wins over two gritty men who have a ton of experience in the UFC. The man who shaves an arrow on his chest before each fight and has an extremely quirky fight style has all of a sudden become a very serious welterweight contender.
We have seen all sorts of different fight attires over the years, from long shorts, to the short spandex worn by UFC stars like George St. Pierre and Rashad Evans. However, we have never been experienced with witnessing the horror of what Dennis Hallman wore inside the octagon tonight.
Fight fans knew how strange Brian Ebersole was with his increasingly famous chest hair. Hallman must have decided he'd up the ante by wearing what looked to be a speedo from the 1988 Seoul Olympic games.
In all seriousness, this was an important night for Hallman, who is running short on time in trying to make one last run in the UFC. Not only did he get his butt kicked tonight, but fans were subjected to a way too personal look of that region amongst others.
Lucky for us, Ebersole knocked Hallman out with 52 seconds to go in the very first round.
There are many times when a fighter has a long time away from the octagon; they come back rusty and subsequently lose. For Evans, not only was he off for 14 months, but he has had to deal with controversy, leaving his long-time camp and losing a sparring partner and friend in Jon Jones.
To make it even more interesting, Evans's opponent changed at the last moment when Phil Davis got hurt in training and was replaced by Tito Ortiz.
Despite all of this, Evans looked sharp and by and large dominated the fight, save for a guillotine choke hold Ortiz put on Rashad early in the second round.
Evans has been part of the biggest title soap opera in the history of the UFC. Evans beat Rampage in May 2010 for the number one contender against then champion Shogun Rua.
But then Evans got hurt while training and Jon Jones stepped in and won the light heavyweight belt. Then, Jones got hurt training for Evans forcing Phil Davis to step in. Now, despite losing to Evans last year, Rampage will now fight Jones next month for the title.
As long as this year-long drama is finally coming to a close, Evans will finally be able to fight for the title, most likely in early 2012.
Coming up short tonight was Tito Ortiz, who lost to Evans after he received a viscous knee to his midsection in the closing seconds of the second round. Ortiz was beaten on the ground and standing up as well as he appeared to be totally over matched.
However, it's hard to consider him a true loser, considering he took this fight on less than a month's notice.
It's been a roller coaster summer for Ortiz who's UFC career was on the line in his fight against Ryan Bader. Ortiz won that though, and had he beaten Evans tonight, he would have almost certainly been named the new No. 1 contender.
That wasn't meant to be though as Evans destroyed that dream.
Still, many people are giving Ortiz a ton of credit to even take this fight in the first place, and it can certainly be argued that he saved this card, which leads us to our final winner.
When it comes to pay-per-views, 2011 has been a rough year for the UFC. Whether it has been injuries or fighters failing medical exams, it seems every pay-per-view main event has been altered this year. Even tonight, Rich Franklin's fight with Antônio Rogério Nogueira was called off due to "little Nog" being injured.
The UFC, though, must have a lucky rabbit foot or use some sort of voodoo magic, because despite UFC 133's main event being changed at the last minute, the Evans/Ortiz bout, as well as the card as a whole was a success.
This is still a problem in the UFC right now, so they shouldn't run too many victory laps. Far too many times are pay-per-views being derailed by training camp injuries.
In the case of UFC on Versus 4 in June, it was now former fighter Nate Marquardt failing medical tests and being cut in the last minute. Though the main event had to be scrapped, Cheick Kongo and Pat Barry had one of the wildest fights in UFC history to save that card.
Tonight, it was Evans and Ortiz saving the UFC as they put forth a fun main event.
What other winners and losers came out of tonight's show? Let us know!