Despite an usually weak card, UFC 133: Evans vs. Ortiz II left the mixed martial arts world with plenty to talk about in the days following the event—whether it was Dennis Hallman's shorts or, more importantly, the emergence of several young prospects.
The preliminary fights featured several back-and-forth wars including Mike Brown picking up his first win in the UFC over Nam Phan, Johny Hendricks edging out Mike Pierce, and Ivan Menjivar controversially taking the decision over Nick Pace.
While the Spike TV prelims featured a lackluster fight between Chad Mendes and Rani Yahya, in which Mendes was able to avoid the grappling ability of Yahya and cruise to another decision, it was made up by an extremely impressive performance and another finish by Alexander Gustafsson.
Gustafsson was able to do something that not even Quinton Jackson could do—finish Matt Hamill.
The undercard was filled with decisions, but the main card had some extremely exciting bouts including four finishes. Let's see where those fights leave the men who participated in them.
Another fight and another incredibly impressive performance from Rory MacDonald.
Since joining the UFC, MacDonald has looked great in every one of his performances. The only blemish on his record is a fight with Carlos Condit—one that MacDonald dominated for the first two rounds.
MacDonald looked great in every aspect of the fight, easily shucking off the take down attempts of Pyle and subsequently out-striking him. After jumping in Pyle's guard, MacDonald was able to posture up and lay down some huge ground-and-pound. With the stoppage, MacDonald is now 12-1 overall.
The potential for him is nearly limitless, but as he just turned 22, the young Canadian deserves some time to be built up slowly. Coming out of the fight nearly unscathed, speculation has been around a fight with Jon Fitch—a huge step up in competition.
A fight with Paulo Thiago, who is fighting at UFC 134, would work out perfectly in terms of scheduling. Martin Kampmann is also currently available.
Mike Pyle, at 35 years of age, essentially cemented his role of gatekeeper in the UFC. Pyle is a very entertaining fighter, picking up wins over Chris Wilson, Jesse Lennox, John Hathaway, and Ricardo Almeida under the UFC banner.
Still, his stoppage losses to Brock Larson, Jake Ellenberger, and Rory MacDonald show his inability to hang with the contenders. Pyle won't be challenging for a title, but he could be a good test for someone like Brian Ebersole or Dong Hyun Kim.
After failing to fight Alessio Sakara yet again, Jorge Rivera took on Constantinos Philippou who was originally set to face Rafael Natal.
Despite the late change in opposition, Rivera and Philippou made for an excellent match-up—the same striker versus striker fight originally intended. Philippou, however, fought an intelligent bout, clinching with Rivera to avoid his heavy hands. The Serra-Longo prospect was even able to control Rivera through much of the bout and showed his diverse attack by locking up an omoplata, which he used to sweep his opponent.
This was a big step-up in competition for Philippou and he deserved his split-decision win, but his next bout should work towards building him up. Much like Serra-Longo teammate Chris Weidman, Philippou shows a lot of promise and should be given ample time to develop.
Based on his bout with Nick Catone, Philippou likely needs to develop his wrestling if he wishes to move up the middleweight ladder.
Jorge Rivera is still around the same place in the UFC following the loss. He was never really a contender and he's moving closer to retirement. At this point, the organization will likely try again to put together the Sakara fight just to see him slug it out with the Italian. Rivera probably has another few exciting performances in his before he calls it quits.
It's impossible to discuss this bout without mentioning Dennis Hallman's awful trunks that "horrified" UFC President Dana White so much that he awarded Brian Ebersole a "getting those horrifying shorts off TV as soon as possible" bonus and $70,000.
Despite his attire, Hallman, within seconds of the first round, took Ebersole's back and began working for the choke. Ebersole's experience was evident however, as he defended the back, defended a guillotine, got on top, and finished the fight via elbows in the first round.
Ebersole only has two fights in the UFC, but both have been over experienced veterans. The first was a beating of Chris Lytle. Before joining the UFC, Ebersole had accumulated 62 professional fights. At this point in his career, at 30 years old, Ebersole is ready for a big name in the welterweight division. He has 13 wins in his last 14 fights—the only loss coming to Hector Lombard at middleweight.
As mentioned earlier, Rory MacDonald would be an excellent fight for Ebersole, as would Martin Kampmann or the winner of Diego Sanchez versus Matt Hughes.
For Dennis Hallman, his years in MMA and 67 professional fights may be impressive, but at 35 years of age, it's not likely he'll be spending much more time on the main card in the UFC. His last three fights have been against Karo Parisyan, Ben Saunders, and John Howard—all fighters who are no longer with the promotion.
All of Vitor Belfort's last five fights have ended by knockout and only once was he on the losing end. Belfort has won six of his last seven fights and his win over Yoshihiro Akiyama may have been his most impressive.
Belfort immediately came out and controlled the center of the cage. Less than two minutes later, Akiyama was out cold face first on the canvas. In the process, Belfort proved both that Akiyama doesn't belong amongst the best middleweights in the world and that "The Phenom" may be the biggest threat to Anderson Silva.
Next up for Belfort should be any top 10 middleweight, but just about all of them have fights already scheduled. Chael Sonnen and Brian Stann are busy fighting each other; Nate Marquardt is gone; Michael Bisping is doing The Ultimate Fighter with Jason Miller; Mark Munoz is taking on Chris Leben; Demian Maia is set to fight Jorge Santiago.
It may make sense for the UFC to bring in Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza from Strikeforce if he defends his belt against Luke Rockhold, although the organizations may want to put together a "champion versus champion" bout with Anderson Silva. Because the winner of Sonnen versus Stann will get the next title shot, it'd make sense for Belfort to get the loser of Silva versus Okami or wait around for whoever comes out on the losing end between Sonnen and Stann.
Yoshihiro Akiyama, despite a huge following in Japan, may very well be cut following his loss. The only reason he may stick around is to help the UFC move into Japan.
Akiyama has not looked good since coming to the UFC. His split decision win over Alan Belcher was extremely controversial and has had three losses following. He could easily—and probably should—be 0-4 in the UFC right now.
The UFC itself did a horrible job of handling Akiyama. They should have given him much easier fights in order to help build him up. Instead, he was given a difficult opponent in Alan Belcher and then it escalated from there as he faced Chris Leben, Michael Bisping, and then Vitor Belfort.
If Akiyama isn't cut from the organization altogether, a good match up may be the loser of Dan Miller and Rousimar Palhares.
In the main event of the evening and Fight of the Night, Rashad Evans did what he was supposed to do—win against late replacement Tito Ortiz. What no one expected, however, was how spectacular he looked.
Despite a 14 month layoff, Evans seemed to be at ease in the first round, controlling the stand-up and defending Tito's take down attempt. From there, Evans battered Ortiz up standing, got a take down of his own, and battered his opponent some more. There was similar dominance displayed in round two, where Rashad survived a guillotine attempt before landing a vicious knee to the body of Ortiz and finishing the fight.
From here, Rashad is obviously in line for a shot on the title and based on his performance, he has a good chance to reclaim the Light Heavyweight Championship. The winner of Jon Jones versus Quinton Jackson will have Evans to look forward to. Jones would make for the more intriguing fight, given their history and the fact that Rashad already has a win over Rampage.
Tito Ortiz is in the same position he was before going into the fight. If anything, he's gained favor in the eyes of the fans and the UFC for taking the fight on short notice.
Unless Rich Franklin wishes to wait for his original fight with Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, he'd be available for a bout with Ortiz, as would Alexander Gustaffson. However, Tito expressed a desire to take some time off following the bout.