You know you have a lukewarm product on your hands when the biggest news out of the pre-fight press conference involves Fedor Emelianenko and has nothing to do with your upcoming pay-per-view offering. But such is the case with UFC 133, which on Saturday night will bring us a rematch no one’s really clamoring to see, two foreigners who never quite lived up to their potential, and a bunch of dudes who are decent but lack star power. That isn’t to say that UFC 133 is destined to suck, though. In fact, the event could very well rock the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia to its core, spilling errant cheesesteaks into the audience and causing mass bedlam. You just never know. Either way, this handy-dandy preview might help in determining whether or not hitting “buy” on your remote control is a worthwhile endeavor.
Rashad Evans vs. Tito Ortiz – Oh what a winding path to this main event! Originally, Evans was going to face champ Jon Jones for the belt. Then Jones had to bail with a hurt hand (that ultimately wasn’t that hurt at all), so Phil Davis stepped in. But Davis messed up his knee, and Ortiz and Lyoto Machida took turns scoffing at the opportunity until Ortiz did a 180 and changed his mind. So here we are, Evans versus Ortiz in a rematch of their 2007 bout that ended in draw after a lot of hugging and fence-holding. The talking points of the pairing include Evans’ year-long layoff and Ortiz’s recent – and completely surprising – smashing of TUF winner Ryan Bader. Excited yet? Yeah, me neither. These guys are going to wage hug-war again, and the winner will be the one who hugs the best.
Yoshihiro Akiyama vs. Vitor Belfort – Though apparently ready, willing and able to throw down with everything he’s got, judo champ Akiyama hasn’t really been setting the Octagon on fire with his performances, winning only one out of three. He’s a scrapper, though, and he can take a punch, and hey! Belfort can throw a punch! What do you know! Anyway,Belfort is so old school he’s been fighting in the UFC longer than anyone else on the organization’s roster (he debuted at UFC 12; Ortiz debuted at UFC 13), and occasionally we still get flashes of brilliance from him. The smart money is on the Brazilian winning (KO or TKO, take your pick) and this bout being way more exciting than the main event.
Dennis Hallman vs. Brian Ebersole – You want to hear something crazy? Both Hallman and Ebersole have had over sixty fights each. At this stage, that means their pre-fight warm-ups consist of a yawn and a stretch and maybe a casual stroll to the bathroom to rub the sleep out of their eyes. It also means that, though Hallman is considered some kind of crazy submission guy and Ebersole is the same brand of crazy but with strikes, these guys have seen it all, done it all and had it done to them many times over. Consequently, we’re likely to see something really creative happen or something boring and uninspired. I’m leaning towards the former, with Ebersole getting the “W”.
Jorge Rivera vs. Costa Philippou – In a nutshell, Rivera and Philippou are deadly strikers and so-so on the ground. Seriously, other than the difference in experience, they’re the exact same fighter – which should, in theory, translate into a lovely stand-up battle or something far-less lovely should it go to the mat. What does my Magic 8-Ball think will happen? “Ask again later,” it says after I shake it. Man, what a piece of crap.
Mike Pyle vs. Rory MacDonald – MacDonald, a.k.a. “How did that young kid get in the cage?” and “He’s the next big thing”, tossed Nate Diaz around like a ragdoll in his last UFC appearance. Pyle has had close to thirty fights and has been on quite a tear lately. Will youth prevail? Or will the more-experienced Pyle continue on in his reign of terror? Once more I don’t know, but I’m fairly certain it’s going to be a fun ride getting there.