UFC contender Rashad Evans earned a chance to fight either Jon Jones or Quinton “Rampage” Jackson for the light heavyweight title, after he battered Tito Ortiz during the main event of UFC 133.
Evans and Ortiz fought to a draw at UFC 73 in July 2007 — when Ortiz lost a point after grabbing the fence — and a rematch seemed unlikely for quite some time. Meanwhile, Evans sat out for more than one year, while Ortiz fought four weeks after submitting Ryan Bader to keep his UFC fighting career alive.
Just as many expected, Evans’ striking was just too good and Ortiz had no answer for his opponent’s superior wrestling ability. A perfectly-timed knee in the second round crumbled an already battered Ortiz, and Evans quickly pounced with strikes on his opponent.
The TKO finish came at 4:48 of round two, and helped silence critics currently doubting if Evans will be able to re-capture the light heavyweight championship.
“I feel great,” Evans noted after the end of the fight. “I feel like all the trials and tribulations have paid off. When you’re in the valley, you’re tested the most, not when you’re at your peak. I got my performance in, and I want to get at Jon Jones. I want my belt back. Whether he has it or Rampage has it, I’m getting my belt back.”
The UFC will probably give Ortiz another chance since he stepped up and took the fight against Evans on short notice.
I still believe Rampage will be in over his head when he fights Jones at UFC 135 in September, with the current champion offering a better overall MMA skill set. I look forward to watching Evans fight either opponent in 2012, and hope he continues to develop himself.
(Image courtesy of Esther Lin / MMA Fighting.)