Sunday, August 7, 2011

UFC 133: Slow start, fast finish

Literally 30 minutes before the first fight and you can feel the electricity in the air here at The Wells Fargo Center in the City of Brotherly Love. Whether in Philadelphia, Las Vegas or Rio de Janeiro, where they'll be in three weeks, the UFC delivers excitement like no other sporting event.

That of course was before the fights actually started, so the question is did it actually deliver? Early on during the prelims, it looked as though the answer was going to be no as fight after fight kept ending in lackluster decisions. However, as the night progressed, so did the action and by the time we got to the main card, the action was full throttle. Now the big question was, did the main event deliver?

After fighting to the extremely rare unanimous draw four years ago, light-heavyweights (205 lbs.) Rashad 'Suga' Evans (15-1-1, 5 KO's, 2 subs) and Tito 'The Huntington Beach Bad Boy' Ortiz (16-8-1, 8 KO's 3 subs) put on a different show this time. Feeding off the electricity of the raucous Philly crowd, both fighters seemed energized and went at it right from the start. In the end, which came at 4:48 of the second round, it was Evans who was the victor ironically using Ortiz's forte, ground and pound.

Ortiz appeared liked the Tito of old, confident coming off his victory last month against Ryan Bader, but while he initiated the fight early, it was Evans who finished the first round with a takedown late that resulted in a pulverizing attack. More of the same came in the second round, although for a few seconds it looked as though the takedown may prove problematic as Ortiz secured a tight guillotine choke on Evans. However, Rashad was able to wrestle his way free and punish Ortiz with strikes from every angle, including a knee to the solar plexus area, which proved to be the finishing blow. Up next for Evans, a showdown with the winner of the Jon Jones/Rampage Jackson fight.

In the co-main event, in a battle of middleweight (185 lbs.) contenders, Vitor 'The Phenom' Belfort (20-9, 14 KO's 2 subs) finally went back to what made him a phenom in the first place, his fast hands. Using superior speed and boxing skills, Belfort caught Yoshihiro 'Sexyama' Akiyama (13-4, 5 KO's 7 subs) flush on the jaw with his patented left hand. That stopped the judoka in his tracks, Then, in an attack eerily similar to when he defeated Wanderlei Silva in 44 seconds back at Ultimate Brazil, Belfort threw punches in bunches on the ground with blazing speed, knocking out Akiyama in the process. In his post fight interview Belfort summed up his performance in two words, "I'm back."

In a clash of two true middleweight veterans of mixed martial arts it was Brian 'Bad Boy' Ebersole (48-14-1, 14 KO's 20 subs) who turned out to be Dennis 'Superman' Hallman's kryptonite. This was because he ended the fight in the first round with a punishing attack from the top position on the ground. Initially, it was Hallman (50-14-2, 4 KO's 39 subs) who pushed the pace and charged at Ebersole right from the start. However, Ebersole weathered the storm and reversed the tide inevitably forcing a referee stoppage. Ebersole who had 61 fights before ever getting a shot in the UFC has now won his first two in the octagon.  

In the first fight on the main card, 21 year old young stud Rory 'Ares' MacDonald (12-1, 5 KO's 6 subs) put it on Mike 'Quicksand' Pyle (21-8-1, 2 KO's 16 subs) early and often to garner a first round TKO victory. Using a nice combination of power shots, MacDonald eventually dropped the 35 year old veteran and pounced on him with a barrage of punches that forced the referee to come in and save a defenseless Pyle. Welterweight (170 lbs.) MacDonald, out of Canada, is so promising at such a young age, Dana White can only hope he turns out to be as good as another young Canadian welterweight, champion Georges St. Pierre.

On the undercard, Swedish sensation Alexander 'The Mauler' Gustafsson (12-1, 8 KO's 3 subs) provided the early fireworks of the night as he nailed Matt 'The Hammer' Hamill (10-4, 6 KO's) with a vicious left hook in the second round. That proved the beginning of the end for the former 'Ultimate Fighter' TV show alum.  Hamill has now lost his last two after winning his previous five. Meanwhile, Gustaffson has won his last three in a row and is (4-1) since coming to the UFC.

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