Rashad Evans secured a light-heavyweight title shot with a dominant TKO victory over Tito (The Huntington Beach Bad Boy) Ortiz in the headlining bout of UFC 133 in Philadelphia.
“I feel great,” Evans said. “I feel all the hard work and trials and tribulations have paid off.”
Evans, who hasn’t fought since May of last year due to injuries and bad business decisions, punished Ortiz on while their feet and controlled the fight when it hit the ground. Ortiz challenged with a guillotine choke attempt in the second round, but Evans popped his head out.
“It wasn’t that tight,” Evans said. “I went over defence with Renzo Gracie and he showed me how to be ready for that.”
After putting Ortiz down again, Evans crumpled Ortiz with a knee to the body and delivered a series of punches for the win.
In a classy display, Ortiz admitted Evans was the better fighter
“I have to take my hat off to Rashad,” Ortiz said. “I came in here and gave it my all. I have nothing to take back. He beat me at my best and he beat my ass.”
Evans is now next in line to face the winner of the championship bout between Jon Jones and Quinton (Rampage) Jackson. He said regardless of who wins, he’s taking home the strap.
“I got my first performance in,” Evans said. “I want to get on Jon Jones and get my belt back. Whether he has it or Rampage, I’m getting my belt.”
Vitor Belfort bounced back from his knockout loss to middleweight champion Anderson Silva, delivering a spectacular first-round KO over Yoshihiro Akiyama in the co-main event.
After a bit of back-and-forth action, Belfort dropped him with a straight-left to the temple and swarmed with punches to put Akiyama away in less than two minutes.
It was vintage Belfort — he smelled blood and unloaded like an animal.
“I’m back!” Belfort screamed after the fight. “I feel great. I feel like if Anderson didn’t do that kick, that would have happened to him. I want the winner (of the title fight between Silva and Yushin Okami).”
Brian Ebersole mauled Dennis Hallman on the ground to earn a nasty first-round TKO victory.
Hallman immediately took the fight to the ground and attempted to secure a rear-naked choke. But Ebersole remained patient and managed to spin into Hallman’s guard. From there he punished Hallman with punches, elbows and hammer-fists, prompting the referee to hault the massacre.
“I’m amazingly happy,” Ebersole said. “I came out in a bit of a daze and got taken down. But I’ve been in there with black belts before and have been beating them up in my camp with boxing.
“He’s got a great top game; I wasn’t too sure about his bottom game.”
Ebersole then petitioned Joe Rogan for a spot on the newly rebooted Fear Factor.
Kelowna, B.C., native Rory MacDonald earned the biggest win of his career, stopping veteran Mike Pyle with strikes in the first round.
The two engaged in a back-and-forth contest before MacDonald hurt Pyle with a big left-hook on the ground. MacDonald pounced with strikes for the impressive victory.
“I’m very happy,” MacDonald said in his post-fight interview. “I wish it went a little longer because I could have shown off more stuff.
“I knew I hit him hard on the ground. As soon as I felt that clean impact, I knew it was time to finish.”
Montreal’s Ivan Menjivar Menjivar won a questionable unanimous decision over Nick Pace earlier in the night.
Menjivar’s diverse striking likely made the difference in the judges’ eyes, as he controlled the stand-up exchanges through most of the fight. Pace proved successful on his takedown attempts, but was unable to dish out much punishment from top position.
In the third round, Pace landed a brutal knee to Menjivar’s left eye that completely changed the tempo of the fight. Menjivar immediately began to retreat, but was able to survive to the final bell and snag the victory.
Alexander Gustafsson earned an impressive TKO victory over Matt Hamill in the final preliminary fight on the card.
“I’m super happy, man; I cant believe it,” Gustafsson said. “It’s a dream come true.”
Hamill looked good in the first round, surprising a somewhat tentative Gustafsson with sharp striking. However, Gustafsson then turned up the intensity at the start of the second, dropping Hamill with a nasty uppercut. He then sealed the deal with a flurry of vicious punches and elbows on the ground.