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UFC 133 Preview

So this card is happening tonight and…yeah.  I don’t particularly care.  To give you an idea of how little I care about this card, I will be spending most of the evening having dinner and drinks at a lounge where the waitresses are all drag queensSBNation tells me I can order the pay-per-view on my new iPad, but even that isn’t particularly appealing – maybe next time.

But still, there are some interesting fights tonight, though the card itself has been decimated by injury.  An originally interesting fight between Rashad Evans and Phil Davis turned into a differently interesting fight between Evans and Tito Ortiz.  Belfort and Akiyama should tell us which fighter is most not good enough to be competitive at middleweight, while the rest of the card is really blah.  I’m grateful that Chad Mendes and Rani Yahya will be on the SpikeTV broadcast and that the lighter guys aren’t necessarily getting the shaft.

UFC 133 will be live tonight on PPV at 9:00 PM EST/8:00 PM CST.  The SpikeTV broadcast begins at 8:00 PM EST/7:00 PM CST, while the remaining preliminary fights will air on Facebook at 5:45 PM EST/4:45 PM CST.  I will keep the previews more abridged since I’ve been cluttering them up with stats and info you can basically find on Sherdog or Wikipedia.  I’ll keep these previews down to predictions and important notes, along with my obligatory terrible jokes and quips.

Light Heavyweight: Rashad Evans (15-1-1, No. 2 LHW) vs. Tito Ortiz (16-8-1)

I can’t believe that in 2011, I’ll be cheering for Tito Ortiz to win a main event UFC fight.  That sounds like a bad dream where I’m put in some kind of contraption from the Saw movies where this is a forced result.  I’m not an Ortiz fan, but good on him for beating Ryan Bader and capitalizing on this opportunity to fight in a huge fight.  If Ortiz wins, he’ll be propelled into the top 10 of the light heavyweight division and is a viable title contender.

As for Rashad Evans, this is probably like a nightmare.  You go from fighting Light Heavyweight Champion Mauricio Rua to fighting your teammate and new champ Jon Jones to a main event fight with Phil Davis to this: a cobbled together fight against Ortiz on a cobbled together card.  The only way this could be more enjoyable would be if Ortiz ended up winning this fight somehow.

Realistically, I think Ortiz could win.  He’s coming off a huge win and expended little energy in doing so.  He seems to be in good health, while Evans hasn’t fought in more than a year and could potentially be rusty.  Ortiz also seemed like the likely winner in his last fight with Evans, but a point deduction turned the result into a draw.

Evans has come very far since that fight, while Ortiz’s stock plummeted prior to a career resurrection against Ryan Bader.  I want to pick Tito, but I don’t see any way in which he’ll be able to compete with Evans.  I’ll give Rashad the TKO win, but I could see Tito finding a way to win this fight.

Middleweight: Vitor Belfort (19-9, No. 6 MW) vs. Yoshihiro Akiyama (13-3, 2 NC, No. 14 MW)

Let’s look at the potential outcomes.  If Vitor Belfort wins, he’ll likely take on the loser of Silva vs. Okama while Akiyama will have to head back to DREAM.  If Akiyama wins, it will be hard to find him a capable opponent based on both skill and timing.  Maybe Tim Kennedy if the UFC wants to pulls some strings.  Belfort would end up dropping further in the rankings, but might he get a chance to fight Cung Le?  Belfort winning is much cleaner and it seems to be the likely scenario.

Middleweight: Jorge Rivera (19-8, No. 21 MW) vs. Costantinos Philippou (7-2, 1 NC)

Philippou has had to bounce around a bit in his UFC career and hasn’t really had a consistent camp going into a fight.  With the injury to Alessio Sakara, Philppou takes on a tough veteran in Jorge Rivera.  The problem is that I’m not too fond of Rivera’s resume, while Philippou is a member of the growing Serra-Longo fight team.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see Philippou take a surprising knockout victory.

Welterweight: Mike Pyle (21-7-1, No. 13 WW) vs. Rory MacDonald (11-1)

Mike Pyle holds a win in his career over Mr. International himself, Shonie Carter.  Rory MacDonald has never defeated Shonie Carter.  I will pick Mike Pyle.

Welterweight: Dennis Hallman (50-13-2, 1 NC) vs. Brian Ebersole (47-14-1, 1 NC)

These two veterans have a combined 129 professional fights in their careers.  Hallman made his UFC debut ages ago, defeating Matt Hughes at UFC 29 in December 2000.  Ebersole only made his UFC debut earlier this year when he surprised Chris Lytle at UFC 127.  I’m really torn here because on the one hand, I think Dennis Hallman will win.  On the other, I really don’t care about this fight.

Light Heavyweight: Alexander Gustafsson (11-1, No. 15 LHW) vs. Matt Hamill (10-3, No. 16 LHW)

Matt Hamill looks for a quick turn around after a disappointing loss to Rampage in May.  Unfortunately, I think we’ll see another loss at the hands of Alexander Gustafsson, a solid boxer with a significant height advantage.  I like Gustafsson, a former professional boxer, a lot more than Hamill and will give him the TKO win.

Featherweight: Chad Mendes (10-0, No. 5 FEW) vs. Rani Yahya (16-6, No. 12 FEW)

I really like Chad Mendes, a solid wrestler out of Team Alpha Male.  Yahya could be a good challenge for Mendes, but I don’t know that Yahya will be able to pull off the win against Mendes, who looked impressive in his first UFC fight against Michihiro Omigawa.  I’d be surprised if Mendes didn’t take a deicision win here.

Welterweight: Mike Pierce (12-3, No. 25 WW) vs. Johny Hendricks (10-1)

Two solid wrestler with ever-improving striking?  This could be a very close contest.  Hendricks has spent the majority of his fight career competing for Zuffa, going 7-1 between the WEC and UFC.  Pierce has also looked good in the UFC with his only loss to top contender Jon Fitch.  This will be a really competitive fight, but I think Hendricks will be able to pull off the upset win.

Featherweight: Mike Brown (24-8, No. 22 FEW) vs. Nam Phan (16-8)

This fight should be pretty interesting if only to see where Mike Brown stands following a number of surprising losses.  Nam Phan is no pushover and should have an extra win to his name based on his bogus decision loss to Leonard Garcia.  I think that Mike Brown has the wrestling to win this fight, but he’s struggled significantly with fatigue issues and that could factor in once again.  If Brown has corrected his fatigue problems, we’ll see a decision win from the former WEC Featherweight Champion.

Catchweight (138 lbs.): Ivan Menjivar (22-8) vs. Nick Pace (6-1)

As a former wrestler who regularly cut weight, I have real disdain for guys who can’t manage to make weight after lengthy training camps.  How can you really be ready for a fight if you can’t reach the agreed upon weight?  For shame, Ivan Menjivar!  I may have picked you to win this fight, but instead, Nick Pace will defeat the super fat Ivan Menjivar.

Middleweight: Rafael Natal (12-3-1) vs. Paul Bradley (18-2, 1 NC)

Natal has yet to win in two UFC fights while Paul Bradley doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page.  A flip of the penny on my desk says that Natal will be victorious in this contest – take it to the bank!

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