Dave Meltzer offers a sober analysis of the "main event" for UFC 78:
With tickets scheduled to go on sale Saturday for the first show in the New York metropolitan area since 2001, the company felt it imperative to finalize and announce a main event. Ortiz, who has one fight left on his current contract, is in the process of negotiating a new deal.
I don't have enough insider information to suggest Tito or the UFC are being unreasonable. I suspect Ortiz will inevitably take the blame for this since Dana White and SpikeTV created an entire special portraying Ortiz as a welch and opportunistic creep.
Before I lay blame at anyone's feet for this - and let there be no mistake that blame is the appropriate word for making Evans vs. Bisping the main event - let's remember that Joe Silva is characteristically a great deal smarter about matchmaking than he's given credit. Many of the upsets we've seen this year were never upsets in Silva's mind as he knew the unknowns had a great deal more to offer than was being recognized. Houston Alexander, anyone?
That being said, this is a horrendous main event. First, both fighters are supremely talented, but this is not a match-up that carries any real significance for the light heavyweight division or their careers. Neither are top 10 in their divisions and a win here does little to bump one up the rankings ladder. I suppose a dominate victory puts the winner closer to a more meaningful match-up, but given that Evans was supposed to fight Ortiz this is one step forward and two steps back.
Second, both Evans and Bisping are technically undefeated, but in the minds of many fans (this writer included) both have already lost. This fight will in all likelihood cause one of the fighters to record their official first loss, but it's not as if that loss carries a great deal of meaning. With matchmaking this contrived, no one really gets upset or excited about the consequences. The only caveat would be if one fighter finished the other in spectacular fashion, but that's a caveat for nearly every fight.
Third, this is a blowout on paper. Evans should be able to manhandle Bisping. Aside from the obvious wrestling advantage, Evans also has better boxing. Bisping employs a more diverse striking arsenal. but Evans is steadily improving his Thai boxing. Cardio shouldn't be a factor for either man, but the size and strength differential should. Evans is a much better athlete accustomed to fighting or wrestling much larger men and doing so with success. Remember, Evans has come down from heavyweight while Bisping is considering a move to middleweight.
It's easy to suggest I'm writing Bisping off given his lackluster performance against Matt Hamill at UFC 75. Let me assure I am not. I'm fully willing to admit I've seen Bisping perform much better and I am aware of how dangerous he can be. Yet, what does he have over Rashad Evans that is enough of a factor to tilt the odds in his favor? Evans has serious offensive skills, a massive wrestling advantage (and we all know how important that can be within the Octagon walls), faced all around tougher competition, and has an excellent team/training camp. Bisping looked his best against Eric Schafer, but has since been badly rocked by Elvis Sinosic and was awarded a gift decision against a deaf fighter with an improved but limited skill set. What am I missing exactly?
As for Tito Ortiz, I hate to see this happen to him. If it's his fault for holding out on unreasonable demands, then you reap what you sew. But is there anyone who would rather see Michael Bisping fight Rashad Evans instead of Tito Ortiz? Well, except for fed up UFC matchmakers and Bisping himself, I seriously doubt it. I was even going to purchase tickets for this event, but not anymore. I'm not protesting or sending a message per se, but on the strength of the card alone the outrageously expensive UFC tickets simply aren't worth the money this time.
And in all of this, Andrei Arlovski is still on the shelf.