The key UFC 133 talking points
RASHAD EVANS 2.0
The former light heavyweight champion joked about being a new version of his old self during the UFC 133 Countdown show, and again during the events leading up to Saturday’s fight. When he got into the cage, he showed his reinvention was no joke.
Everything about Evans looked better. He appeared to be in the best shape of his life, and his once cocky demeanor was replaced by a fierce intensity that suggested the days of nipple tweaks and Redd Foxx staggers after wins are over. Instead of pawing with his jab and taking the pick-and-poke approach of old, Evans went after Tito Ortiz hard, delivering a thunderous slam in the first and bringing the fight to the “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” in the second.
The finishing moments of the fight speak volumes about the changes in Evans’ approach and attitude. Where he used to look to land one clean punch, he waded into exchange with Ortiz, confident in his hands and the ability to make a finish happen, rather than waiting for that lone opportunity to counter. His crushing knee to the sternum of Ortiz was a thing of beauty.
Prior to this fight, I had my doubts about whether Evans could hang with Jon Jones. Those doubts are gone; Evans will be a handful for whoever he faces next, mark my words.
MORE TO COME FROM ORTIZ
There is never any shame in losing to the top contender in the division. There is especially no shame in losing to the top contender in the division when you take the fight on three weeks notice. Ortiz has nothing to hang his head about, and should definitely be given an opportunity to continue his resurgence before the year is out.
Ortiz had a couple quality moments in this fight. While it wasn’t ever really close, his guillotine attempt had everyone thinking a sequel to his win over Ryan Bader was on the way. He landed a couple stiff shots early, showing continued development in his hands. He was just beaten by a better man Saturday night.
A return to the top of the light heavyweight division may not be realistic, but after ripping through Bader and stepping up against Evans, Ortiz has earned the right show there is still something left in the tank whenever he’s ready to return to the cage.
CONSISTENCY THE KEY FOR BELFORT MOVING FORWARD
Is Belfort crazy for thinking the win puts him right back in the middleweight title mix? Yes, indeed he is.
Instead of wanting to revisit Anderson Silva’s foot connecting with his face, Belfort needs to focus on string together a few performances like the one he delivered Saturday night, and he needs to do it against better competition too. Beating a guy on who came into the bout on a two-fight losing streak with a penchant for taking punishment is good, but Belfort needs to show he can hang with the top-end guys in the division before he starts talking about title shots again.
SPEAKING OF SEXYAMA
The welterweight division is calling and Akiyama needs to pick up the phone.
Having now lost three-straight and arguably dropping his debut to Alan Belcher at UFC 100, a move down in weight is the only real option Akiyama has at this point. When Dana White talks about how he’s begged you to drop down in just about every interview he does after the fights, take the hint.
His fight fire with fire style is entertaining and endears him to fans — and White — but he just doesn’t have the size to compete with the heavy-handed sluggers of the 185 pound ranks. He could be dangerous in the 170 pound ranks, as his takedown defense would serve him well against the wrestler-heavy division, and we know he’s got some pop to his punches. It’s just a matter of whether or not he’s willing to cut the way to keep himself in the UFC.
The only way I can see him sticking around the middleweight ranks is if the UFC manages to put together a fight with Wanderlei Silva for their planned trip to Japan early next year. Outside of that, it’s welterweight or bust.
MY TAKE ON DENNIS HALLMAN’S BRIEFS
I laughed when I saw Hallman strip down to his minimalist attire. I honestly thought he was going to pull a pair of traditional shorts on over top of them. I personally don’t care that he didn’t, but I can understand why Dana White would.
Listen — this isn’t me blindly defending the UFC and its President. I’m not worried about my credentials. I’m thinking from a rational, business perspective. That’s all.
What happens if Hallman’s genitalia slips out during the bout? To me, that’s a reason for concern, and it’s one that doesn’t exist with Georges St-Pierre’s skimpy shorts. It’s not a matter of what is left up to the imagination; it’s worst case scenario thinking and completely understandable.
Censors would go ape if this happened, and Hallman could be seriously hurt depending on the situation. His wardrobe selection has already become one of the main talking points from this event; imagine how much more attention they would be receiving if he had a wardrobe malfunction mid-match?
Does Dana have to choose his words better? Absolutely; saying he was “disgusted” holds a certain connotation and makes it ambiguous as to why he’s upset. But the fact that White needs to articulate his thoughts a little better doesn’t diminish the fact that there are legitimate concerns that come up because of Hallman’s choice of trunks.