Rashad Evans defied any expectations of ring rust at UFC 133. Despite not having set foot in the Octagon since May 2010, Evans looked perhaps the best he ever has — cut, quick, and instincts on “killer” — dominating a motivated Tito Ortiz to not only finish the story they started with their draw four years ago at UFC 73, but also cementing his place as the number one contender for the light heavyweight championship.
Ortiz had stepped up on little more than two weeks notice to the save the main event for a card cursed by injury after injury. The Huntington Beach Bad Boy was riding a wave of goodwill after shockingly finishing Ryan Bader just a month earlier, but Evans put an end to Ortiz’s Cinderella Man story with a devastating knee to the solar plexus followed up by a handful of hard-winged punches.
Vitor Belfort also displayed astonishing dominance, knocking out iron-chinned Yoshihiro Akiyama with a swarm of fists in the first frame. Some controversy has developed around Belfort’s shots to the back of Akiyama’s head at the end of his flurry, but Belfort’s clear superiority in the striking arena was nonetheless evident. (I still think Akiyama should drop to welterweight where he can’t get pushed around as much.)
Earlier in the night, beautiful performances were put on by MMA veteran Brian Ebersole, who destroyed a sure-to-be-infamously Speedo sporting Dennis Hallman, and Canada’s Rory MacDonald, who showcased devastating ground-and-pound to finish the wily Mike Pyle. MacDonald continues to look great in every fight, winning with both skill and flair.
Full results below, as well as a replay of Belfort’s Knockout of the Night against Akiyama. How do you feel about those punches to the back of the head? Clearly illegal, but were they irrelevant to the fight’s outcome?
Rafael Natal def. Paul Bradley via unanimous decision
Mike Thomas Brown def. Nam Phan via unanimous decision
Johny Hendricks def. Mike Pierce via split decision
Ivan Menjivar def. Nick Pace via unanimous decision
Chad Mendes def. Rani Yahya via unanimous decision
Alexander Gustafsson def. Matt Hamill via TKO (strikes), round two
Rory MacDonald def. Mike Pyle via TKO (strikes), round one
Constantinos Philippou def. Jorge Rivera via split decision
Brian Ebersole def. Dennis Hallman via TKO (strikes), round one
Vitor Belfort def. Yoshihiro Akiyama via KO (punches), round one
Rashad Evans def. Tito Ortiz via TKO (strikes), round two