Event: UFC 133: Evans vs. Ortiz
Date: Saturday, August 6, 2011 at 9 p.m. ET on PPV
Location: Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Main Card (pay-per-view)
Brent Brookhouse - Everyone knows the story. Tito is old, Rashad is younger and better. I expect Tito to get everyone's hopes up by maybe winning the first round before getting tagged and finished in the second. It's hard to stop Tito but Rashad has deeply underrated power and can hit Ortiz enough to force the stoppage. Rashad Evans by TKO, round 2.
Mike Fagan - Ortiz, at 36, is more hurt by the four weeks' notice than Rashad, at 31, is hurt by the fourteen month layoff. The Cinderella story of the Bader fight is fun, but let's not forget that Ortiz looked awful against Matt Hamill in October. Rashad has a tendency to start slow which could bite him in the ass here, but he's a better, younger, faster fighter than Tito (and I realize we all said the same thing last month). Rashad Evans by decision.
Leland Roling - Ortiz is old, withered by injuries, and an atrocious striker. His win over Ryan Bader was a breath of fresh air for many fans, but the short notice nature of this fight combined wtih his technical deficiencies lean me toward Evans. Tito blows his legs out early trying to rush Rashad. Evans survives and out strikes Tito easily, eventually finishing him. Rashad Evans via TKO.
Anton Tabuena - As much as I want to see Tito take Rashad down and unleash a classic ground and pound beatdown en route to one of the greatest career turnarounds in MMA history, I just don't think he can do it. Evans is younger, much faster, and he's the better striker. Don't be surprised if he's the one winning the takedown battles here. Rashad Evans by Decision.
Staff picking Evans: Fraser, Fagan, Tim, Anton, Bishop, Gould, Leland, Brookhouse
Staff picking Ortiz:
Brent Brookhouse - Akiyama not only is too small for 185, but he just isn't good enough to compete at the "UFC level." But he's that kind of "just good enough" to provide really exciting fights. Vitor has better submissions off his back than Leben should he find himself there and he has better technique and power standing up thank Akiyama so I don't see this as a very winnable fight for Yoshihiro. Vitor Belfort by TKO, round three.
Mike Fagan - I swear to god I read that Akiyama flew to America without his seconds. I can't find it for the life of me, and I haven't seen any update on the situation. Either way, I've always had issue with Akiyama at 185 lbs. in the UFC. He's too small, and he doesn't have the skill to make up for it. Vitor Belfort by TKO, round two.
Fraser Coffeen - The UFC Countdown video said it best - Akiyama likes to stand and bang. Trouble is, he's facing Vitor Belfort here, and Vitor still posseses nasty KO power, scary fast hands, and some of the best ability to finish in the game. With Vitor the mental game is always an X Factor, but he has looked focus for some time now. Vitor Belfort by KO
Matt Roth - My instincts tell me I should pick Vitor Belfort. He's the better fighter and has had better success in recent years than Sexyama. I hate my instincts and I'm picking the underdog. Akiyama has a ridiculous chin and heavy enough hands he can be a threat. We've seen him use his Judo in the UFC and he has the top control to be a threat. I'm picking the underdog and saying Akiyama by Split Decision.
Staff picking Belfort: Fraser, Fagan, Tim, Anton, Bishop, Gould, Leland, Brookhouse
Staff picking Akiyama: Roth
Brent Brookhouse - I don't really think Ebersole is good, so that makes this kind of easy. The Lytle fight was very weird and he deserves credit for the victory, but it didn't really prove a whole lot to me. Hallman is tricky in more functional ways than Ebersole and that should be enough. Dennis Hallman by decision.
Mike Fagan - I had to check Wikipedia to make sure this is actually on the PPV card. I know the injury bug hit this card hard, but...wow. Ebersole's only around because he caught Chris Lytle trying to fight four weeks after knee surgery. Maybe he'll bring some seitan into the Octagon for Hallman. Dennis Hallman by decision.
Leland Roling - Hallman's medical issues really hurt him in the past, and he seems to have reawakened physically in this latter part of his career. Ebersole's stand-up may be better, but Hallman has interesting ways in which he can tie up opponents and control them on the ground. This should be a fun one, and I expect Hallman to edge Ebersole with a controlling, grinding style of grappling. Dennis Hallman via decision.
KJ Gould - This fight might not be relevant to some, or interesting to others but I like it a lot especially because both fighters can trace their lineage back to the late Karl Gotch who passed away just over 4 years ago. Gotch's legacy of the Japanese style of submission grappling and MMA potentially lives on in the unorthdox and creative approach both fighters bring to the table and I think at the very least it'll be a really fun fight that I think will lean on takedowns and control. I give the advantage in that area to Hallman. Hallman by decision.
Staff picking Hallman: Fagan, Tim, Bishop, Gould, Leland
Staff picking Ebersole: Fraser, Anton, Roth
Jorge Rivera vs. Constantinos Philippou
Brent Brookhouse - Rivera/Sakara was a really fun fight, I don't care what anyone says. Rivera/Philippou is a fine enough fight from an entertainment standpoint I suppose but it's a pretty weak main card fight (much worse than Hallman/Ebersole). As long as Jorge hasn't gotten super old I think he can still take this. Jorge Rivera by TKO, round 2.
Mike Fagan - I've never missed Alessio Sakara more. Jorge Rivera by decision.
Leland Roling - I've never been able to get on the Jorge Rivera bandwagon. While he possesses heavy hands, he isn't the most technical puncher, nor does he have the grappling acumen to be a true threat. Philippou is far from a well-rounded, beastly fighter either, but he is younger and has more tools at his disposal. Constantinos Philippou via decision.
KJ Gould - I think this is Rivera's UFC swan song even if Philippou looks nothing remotely like a world beater at present. A loss by either probably closes their UFC career but I think age will lose out this time to inexperienced youth. Philippou by decision.
Staff picking Rivera: Fraser, Fagan, Tim, Anton, Bishop, Brookhouse, Roth
Staff picking Philippou: Leland, Gould
Brent Brookhouse - Right below me, Mike nails it with the UFC failing to really push young prospects that might become superstars. MacDonald has enormous upside and is already proving to be very good. Pyle is a good gameplan guy with the skills to execute but he probably isn't better than MacDonald at anything and MacDonald is better than him at a lot. Rory MacDonald by decision.
Mike Fagan - I had no idea Rory MacDonald was fighting on this card. None. Perhaps that's a failure on my end, but if the UFC has any interest in creating stars, they have to do a better job of promoting promising up-and-comers like MacDonald. Why isn't his fight with Nate Diaz on Youtube? Hell, I'd settle for a 20-second clip of his slams at this point. Rory MacDonald by decision.
Tim Burke - Rory MacDonald is Canadian. He's even from my home province of British Columbia. The only way the name "Mike Pyle" gets referenced by me is when it's followed by "is gonna get destroyed!" Rory MacDonald by TKO.
Matt Bishop - Solid test here for MacDonald. Pyle is an experienced fighter and should be able to give MacDonald a test and maybe even a scare. That said, Rory MacDonald is a man child. I don't expect him to lose this fight. Rory MacDonald by TKO, round 3.
Staff picking MacDonald: Fagan, Tim, Anton, Bishop, Gould, Leland, Brookhouse, Roth
Staff picking Pyle: Fraser
Spike TV Undercard
Brent Brookhouse - Personally I think Gustafsson is not as good as people want to believe, but I do think he is a horrible style match-up for Hamill here. Alexander Gustafsson by TKO, round 2.
Mike Fagan - Things Swedes are great at: ice hockey, having blonde hair, and börk, börk, börk! Wrestling? Not as much. Matt Hamill by decision.
Leland Roling - Hamill's barely better than Tito Ortiz striking game will be exposed brutally in this fight unless he trained vigorously to take down Gustafsson. Unfortunately, Hamill tends to stand and bang with his opponents until it's too late. And don't forget that Gustafsson trains extensively with Phil Davis. Alexander Gustafsson via TKO.
Anton Tabuena - Like Akiyama, Hamill will once again forget his base and choose to strike with a striker... and again, this will be his downfall. Alexander Gustafsson by Decision.
Staff picking Hamill: Fraser, Fagan
Staff picking Gustafsson: Tim, Anton, Bishop, Gould, Leland, Roth, Brookhouse
Brent Brookhouse - Chad Mendes is so talented that he may never fight on a main card again. He is also much better than Yahya. Chad Mendes by decision.
Mike Fagan - Remember when people thought Michihiro Omigawa would beat Chad Mendes? That was fun. Chad Mendes by decision.
Leland Roling - Omigawa began to come to life late in the third round against Mendes based purely on grit and his punching ability. Yahya is a survivor, but he doesn't have the punching prowess to survive on the feet, where Mendes will do the most damage in this fight. Chad Mendes via decision.
KJ Gould - Two time NCAA All American Wrestler and Undefeated in MMA versus a very good BJJ based fighter with a reasonable record. How many guesses do you need to know who I'll pick? Chad Mendes by decision.
Staff picking Mendes: Fraser, Fagan, Tim, Anton, Bishop, Gould, Leland, Roth, Brookhouse
Staff picking Yahya:
Brent Brookhouse - Nick Pace is just good enough to make Menjivar work a little without being good enough to get the win over the vet. Ivan Menjivar by decision.
Mike Fagan - Menjivar's Wikipedia page already has green shaded into the result box for this fight. I'll take that as a sign. Ivan Menjivar by decision.
Leland Roling - I don't think this is an easy layup for Menjivar at all. Pace, a Tiger Schulmann product, will have the striking prowess to hurt Menjivar badly. He will, however, be susceptible on the ground, and open to some of Menjivar's more creative attacks. I'll go with Ivan, but Pace is a live underdog here. Ivan Menjivar via decision.
Tim Burke - Ivan Menjivar is one of my favorite fighters and has been for many years. He will not get pillory choked. He will persevere! Menjivar by decision.
Staff picking Menjivar: Fraser, Tim, Anton, Bishop, Gould, Leland, Roth, Brookhouse
Staff picking Pace:
Brent Brookhouse - I wish I would remember that Mike Pierce fights in the UFC a bit more often, he's pretty damn good. 4-1 in the UFC and on the Facebook prelims while Brian Ebersole gets main card love. Card positioning does impact sponsorship money, people. Mike Pierce by TKO, round one.
Mike Fagan - Hendricks has already lost to one head of the StoryPierceFoster Monster. Mike Pierce by TKO, round two.
Leland Roling - Mike Pierce is a better version of Rick Story, not the other way around. He'll grind his way to a victory in a grueling three-round affair that should sport all sorts of manly slams and relentless punching. Mike Pierce via decision.
Matt Bishop - I have a hard time seeing a finish in this fight. This is going to be a real grinding affair, and both fighters know that. This will be technical but it won't be particularly exciting. Johny Hendricks by decision.
Staff picking Hendricks: Fraser, Tim, Bishop, Gould
Staff picking Pierce: Fagan, Anton, Leland, Roth, Brookhouse
Brent Brookhouse - Nam Phan is not very good. Mike Brown used to be good but he looks like a truly old fighter. Big guys who cut a lot of weight can get old quicker that guys who aren't "huge for the class." But Nam Phan is probably the right amount of bad for Brown to be able to win. Mike Brown by decision.
Mike Fagan - In two years, Mike Brown went from fighting in main events as featherweight champ to being buried deep in the prelims with a TUF also-ran. The books have him as a 2-1 favorite, but, man, he looked shot in his last fight. I'd take Phan if I wasn't so concerned that his knees were liable to pop off in the center of the cage. Mike Brown by decision.
Anton Tabuena - If we see his old self, Nam Phan won't stand a chance, but Mike Brown just isn't the same fighter we used to know. The Asian brother will get some love this time around. Nam Phan by Decision.
Fraser Coffeen - Mike Brown looked fantastic for about a year in 2009, but that loss to Jose Aldo really ended things for him. His wrestling should get him the win here, but I think he's just too past his prime at this point. Nam Phan by decision
Staff picking Brown: Fagan, Tim, Leland, Roth, Brookhouse
Staff picking Phan: Fraser, Anton, Bishop, Gould
Brent Brookhouse - I must have missed the memo. Fighting on short notice two weeks after another fight is generally not good. Rafael Natal by decision.
Mike Fagan - Bradley fought two weeks ago on a local show. He also broke out with herpes on TUF. I'm not sure how to factor these in to my handicapping. Paul Bradley by decision.
Leland Roling - Natal has never been impressive. He's robotic in the stand-up game, open to takedowns due to his poor form, and an okay ground fighter. I'm not sure how he'll stack up against a lower level TUF contestant, but I'll go with grit and a grinding style over Natal's sniper tactics on the feet any day. Paul Bradley via decision.
Tim Burke - I've always thought Paul Bradley was a pretty good fighter with a solid wrestling base and a dependable striking game. I'm actually surprised it took this long for him to get to this spot. About the only problem I see for him is that he's a natural welterweight, but Sapo's not exactly the type of fighter that can take advantage of that. Paul Bradley by decision.
Staff picking Natal: Fraser, Brookhouse
Staff picking Bradley: Fagan, Tim, Anton, Bishop, Gould, Leland, Roth