Although it was once supposed to be called “Evans vs. Jones” and even “Aldo vs. Mendes”, UFC 133 “Evans vs. Davis” has transformed itself into quite the respectable card. After sitting on the sidelines for a very long time in hopes that this exact thing wouldn’t happen, Rashad Evans puts his shot at the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship on the line while another man (Quinton Jackson) gets a shot at the championship. The fight card is also filled with several good veteran talents, from Antonio Rogerio Nogueira to Jorge Rivera to Vladimir Matyushenko. Barring any injuries from now until fight-time, here’s the complete line-up to UFC 133 as well as some of my early reactions.
Courtesy of Sherdog, the UFC 133 card now stands as such: Rashad Evans vs. Phil Davis, Rich Franklin vs. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, Vitor Belfort vs. Yoshihiro Akiyama, Jorge Rivera vs. Alessio Sakara, Rory MacDonald vs. Mike Pyle, Vladimir Matyushenko vs. Alexander Gustafsson, Chad Mendes vs. Rani Yahya, Dennis Hallman vs. Brian Ebersole, Ivan Menjivar vs. Nick Pace, Johny Hendricks vs. Mike Pierce, Mike Thomas Brown vs. Nam Phan, Rafael Natal vs. Constantinos Philippou
In discussing UFC 133, I think I’ll start from the bottom and work my way up.
Mike Brown vs. Nam Phan is a match-up that really interests me. Phan has been on the sidelines since December, when he was frankly robbed of a victory courtesy of a horrendous judge’s decision. Meanwhile, Mike Brown has been struggling to find his footing in the UFC but has stayed employed as an Octagon fighter thanks to taking two fights back-to-back. I do think Brown will be gone if he loses to Phan, though. Part of me hopes that the former WEC champion gets the big win he needs, another part of me would love to see Phan win in order to keep hope alive for a rematch with Leonard Garcia.
I think it’s pretty interesting that Brian Ebersole will more-than-likely lead the main event of UFC 133’s Facebook broadcast. After a huge win over Chris Lytle, I thought the UFC would simply do a little more with Ebersole. But I do partly agree with putting him on the undercard: he may have shrugged off the role of “sacrificial lamb” in the bout with Lytle, but there are still a lot of questions hovering around him. If he beats Hallman, though, I do think Ebersole will have earned a spot on the main card for his next bout.
I think it’ll be interesting to see what Jorge Rivera does against Alessio Sakara. That’s a battle of tough veterans that should be pretty entertaining. Also, is anyone else excited for Vitor Belfort vs. Yoshihiro Akiyama? I know both men have lost lately, but that seems like a great “clash of styles” fight. I’m also really pumped for Rich Franklin vs. “Little Nog”. Hopefully, that fight turns into the great brawl that the Forrest Griffin vs. Rich Franklin fight should have been.
And for the main event, Rashad Evans dug his own grave and now needs to lay down in it. I’d actually consider myself a semi-fan of Rashad Evans, but even I have to point out the irony of the situation, with Evans sitting out all this time only to get injured, then the champion he was supposed to face gets injured, and now he’s doing what he tried not to do and has to put his shot at the championship on the line.
And to be honest, I think “ring rust” will play a significant factor in this fight, with Evans sitting out for over a year simply because he chose to do so. It’ll play an even bigger factor than usual, given how hungry Phil Davis is and how eagerly he wants to knock off some serious contenders. I’m not saying Davis will come out and dominate Evans, but I do think Evans will have a tough time both due to Phil’s toughness/technique as well as the fact that Evans has gone so long without stepping inside the Octagon.
Overall, UFC 133 may not be the best card, but a lot of the fights look very fun on paper and the event has plenty of “sleeper hit” potential.