Pros' picks: Rashad versus Tito
The City of Brotherly Love will play host to a rematch between former light heavyweight champions, as Rashad Evans meets the suddenly resurgent Tito Ortiz in the UFC 133 headliner Saturday at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. Four years after their first encounter ended in a draw at UFC 73, Evans and Ortiz return to the Octagon to finish their business.
Sherdog.com recently touched base with a number of professional trainers and fighters to gauge their opinions on the UFC 133 "Evans vs. Ortiz 2" main event:
Antonio Silva: I believe Rashad will knock Tito out. He is impressively good physically, and Ortiz won't take him down easily.
Tyron Woodley: I think Rashad is going to beat Tito. The first time they fought, it was his first big fight and he realized that. So when he fought him, it took him a little bit to realize that, "Dang, I think I can beat Tito." They ended up in a draw because [Ortiz] grabbed the cage, but I think this time Rashad has his swag. He believes in himself, and he went out and put on an amazing show against [Quinton] "Rampage" Jackson. I think that Tito will be a similar opponent who won't have that second or third dimension to answer the questions that Rashad will pose with his athleticism, his in-and-out punching, his takedowns and his cardio. If Tito has another performance like he did against [Ryan] Bader, then I think it'll be a good fight. But I think that Rashad wins.
Thales Leites: Rashad by KO.
Marvin Eastman: I'm pulling for Tito. He held the UFC together by himself for a long time. The UFC was Tito, and Tito was the UFC. Man, I ain't no cheerleader, but game recognizes game, so much respect to him. Don't write him off yet. One more big win, and he's in there. He's got to get Evans on the ground and pound him out, like the old Tito did [against] Ken Shamrock, [Vladimir] "The Janitor" [Matyushenko], [Yuki] Kondo, etc. If he don't get him to the ground, he won't win.
Eddy Millis: I really, really believe this fight goes to the aggressor, the one who really brings it from deep down, bites on his mouth piece and throws down, toe-to-toe. I give this one to Rashad, but I'll be rooting for Tito.
George Roop: Rashad by unanimous decision.
Dewey Cooper: Though Tito looked good against Bader, I think he will come up a little short in this fight against Evans. One reason stands out in my mind: the short training camp. Since Tito took the fight on a short notice, it is an issue. I don't think Tito will be able to overcome the athletic ability of Evans. Rashad by decision.
Seth Petruzelli: Rashad by decision.
Javier Vazquez: I'll be rooting for Ortiz; would love for him to make a comeback. I'll pick Ortiz by razor-close decision.
Fabio Maldonado: Rashad by decision.
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Nick Thompson: This fight reminds me of an adventure Derrick Noble and I had. Derrick and I had snuck out of our houses and witnessed an Indian murder a local doctor. A person other than the Indian was mistakenly arrested and charged for the murder. Derrick and I made a vow of secrecy that we would not reveal that said person was not the murderer because we did not want to get into trouble for sneaking out of the house. At the falsely accused's trial, however, the defendant's attorney called me to the stand, and, despite our vow, I felt compelled to tell the truth about what I had seen. Upon hearing my testimony, in which I accused him of the murder, the Indian jumped out of a window and fled. Sometime later, Derrick snuck into an abandoned house that we thought was haunted, only to find the Indian hiding inside with a large amount of money. While we were unable to take the money that night, Derrick began trailing the Indian to determine where he was hiding it and to find an opportunity to take it. One night, Derrick overheard the Indian discussing his plan to mutilate a local widow. Derrick ran and told someone who, with his sons, went after Indian and scared him off with gunshots. Simultaneously, I had accompanied other local children on a picnic to a cave. Me and my girlfriend became lost, and before we were finally able to find our way out, we ran into the Indian who was hiding in the cave. Later, Derrick and I entered the cave from the alternate entrance that I found and retrieved the Indian's loot. Yes, sir, that sure was an adventure and, in a lot of ways, reminds me of this fight. Tito wins by unanimous decision. I am a Tito fan. When I first made it to the UFC and met him, he was extra nice.
Thiago Tavares: I don't see Ortiz winning that fight. Rashad is training with a very good team, with many great athletes and coaches. Plus, he is better in every area. I bet he wins by TKO.
Jeff Monson: Evans by second-round TKO.
Travis Wiuff: I'm pulling for Tito and hoping he can win this one. His win over Bader shocked me. His stepping up to take this fight on short notice has made me a fan. I think he can win a close decision. He is still a very big 205er and showed himself to be more well-rounded than I have thought in the past.
Keith Berry: I'm going for the "Huntington Beach Bad Boy" on this one. Ortiz has been looking like his old self, and I would love to see his grave burial skit after he beats Rashad.
Ron Foster: I think Rashad will have his way with Tito in this fight. Rashad is twice as fast, [has] better wrestling and has huge punching power. Tito looked great in his last fight, but Rashad will be way too much for him to handle. Much props to Ortiz for stepping up, but I don't see this fight going the distance. Evans will stop Ortiz in the second.
Marlon Sandro: Rashad takes it on a judges' decision.
Tom Gavrilos: Rashad has better speed, movement, wrestling and power in both hands, along with some nasty kicks. Tito has good technical hands but does not have the punching power to really back his opponents off. He was certainly an icon who helped grow the sport, definitely a crowd draw and dominant in the early days of MMA. Those days are gone, and Tito hasn't evolved enough to compete against someone like Rashad, who is on the next level. He has far more ways to end the fight. Tito is going to shy away in the pocket and lose points on takedowns. Tito still has some of the best ground-and-pound in the business, but I don't think he will be able to use it. Rashad should be wary of Tito's very underrated submission game; he is capable of catching Rashad on a takedown or even off his back; Rashad by TKO.
Michael Guymon: This is a very tough fight for Tito. Rashad has more ways to win the fight and is stronger in all areas of MMA. Physically, Rashad is also in much better shape than Tito. Rashad is younger, faster and has way less battle damage than Ortiz. All this is too much for him to overcome. Tito gets KO'd in the third.
Kultar Gill: With a fully healed Tito, this fight would maybe last two rounds in Tito's favor. Tito is an exceptional fighter, but those injuries and surgeries will not let him train to his full capacity. I got Rashad by split decision.
Scott Epstein: Rashad has a lot in his favor. I mean, look at his fashion sense. Are those Tom Ford suits? Tito has Punishment [Athletics MMA] and a flame beanie; Rashad by being way more fierce.
Gabe Ruediger: I'm going with Rashad. He should win a clear-cut decision.
Josuel Distak: I bet on an Ortiz victory. Rashad is the favorite, but Ortiz will surprise him.
Sean Loeffler: This fight reminds me of a time when I was young and training in a camp called the Agoge, where I had to face other fierce competitors like Eddie Sanchez, Brodie Farber and Joey Beltran on a daily basis. We were all just kids, but our fathers and elders of the city taught us how to survive and kill to become an elite group of 300 men to defend our nation. My first act as king was to push kick a messenger who insulted my queen wife down into a bottomless pit. Next, myself, Travis Browne, Beltran, Farber and Jason Lambert, along with 295 other men, traveled to a cliff next to a peninsula. We had an amazing strategic spot to fight from, but this local little stupid hunchback who couldn't be a Spartan warrior like the 300 of us betrayed his own people, and we were all killed in a hail of arrows. I was then carried home on my shield dead, of course, to my mourning family. The last thought that went through my mind fighting alongside my fellow countrymen was that I really hope Tito wins this matchup and should be able to edge out the [trash]-talking Rashad. Two variables will play into this matchup: ring rust, which favors Tito, and heart, which favors Tito. Rashad is tough, but Tito wins by decision or gets carried out on his shield, hopefully with no injury excuses.
Luis Dorea: It's gonna be a great fight. Tito showed a lot of improvement in his last fight, but Rashad is at a better moment in his career and has a better transition between exchanging and the ground game. He has also been working to fight at UFC 133. Tito was called late. Rashad wins.
Benji Radach: I'm going to roll with Tito's momentum and strong points to come out on top. I think he busted ass for his last fight and made some good decisions in camp, and I imagine he rejuvenated his drive in training. Also, he would have won the last fight [against Evans] if the bulls--- point [being taken] away for grabbing the fence wasn't in the last fight, which made it a draw.
Jason Dent: I'm pulling for Tito in this one. I have not always been a fan of Tito's personality, but I have always loved his fights. I see him winning by decision in this one.
Mike Ciesnolevicz: My brain tells me that Evans is just a better athlete, more well-rounded and will win a unanimous decision. My heart tells me to cheer for the former champion, the older-school guy who I was watching before the UFC was cool and all the fanboy wannabes came out. A lot of people don't show Tito the respect he deserves because they came into this sport in "The Ultimate Fighter" era. They don't know what he did for MMA in the past. This isn't Tito Ortiz versus Lee Murray in a street fight. Tito actually has a chance to win this fight. Tito has more fans now than he ever has. He upset [Ryan] Bader on the brink of retirement and now he stepped up to take on Rashad. My prediction is Tito takes out Rashad in dramatic fashion and keeps the Cinderella story going.
Patricio Freire: Tito will make things tough for Rashad. He walks backwards a lot, and Tito always looks for the center of the cage. Tito is also really motivated after his last fight. I believe Tito wins by judges' decision.
Pros Picking Evans: 18
Pros Picking Ortiz: 8
No Pick: 3
You can also contact Mike Sloan at www.facebook.com/mikesloan19. Gleidson Venga contributed to this report.
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