(Ah, 2007 — when picking up a draw against Tito Ortiz could be the greatest accomplishment of a fighter’s career.)
By Jared ‘DangadaDang” Jones
In a sport where upsets come as easily as a lone, well placed punch, the rematch has become not only commonplace, but a huge commodity for the UFC as well. Fight fans worldwide have embraced the rematch because they offer a chance to witness a fighter’s redemption first-hand. Sometimes these matches provide us with instant classics, and set in place the even more lucrative Trilogy, while others serve only to confirm what we already knew.
Tito Ortiz, the man behind some of the UFC’s most profitable rematches and trilogies, is looking to continue his path to redemption and possibly contendership (!) when he takes on Rashad Evans at UFC 133. Though the odds are against him, his recent win over Ryan Bader proved to us that he can still choke someone out when it’s called for. (No Brett, you’re doing it wrong.) And since Ortiz stepped up to the plate, so shall I. Here are four upcoming UFC rematches and how I believe they will go down…
What happened the first time: Ortiz was able to secure a takedown within the opening minute of the fight, giving him the edge in a grappling-and-clinch-heavy first round, but after repeatedly grabbing the fence in the second frame, referee Big John McCarthy deducted one point from Ortiz, nullifying a round he would have won. Rashad was able to mount some offense in the third and secure a takedown of his own, resulting in a draw across the board.
What’s happened since then: Evans would go on to claim highlight-reel glory for his earth shattering KO of Chuck Liddell and UFC gold just three months later with a second-round blitzkrieg of Forrest Griffin (though he would lose the title on his first defense to Lyoto Machida). Ortiz, on the other hand, would spend the next three years without a victory, have twins with a former porn star before ending their relationship, and provide the single worst night of post-fight commentary this world has ever seen. So you tell me who is worse for the wear.
Things to consider: Ever since his vicious KO defeat to Machida, Evans has appeared to lose a little confidence in his striking ability, reverting to his wrestling background in his subsequent decision wins over Thiago Silva and Rampage Jackson. Both matches were a Catch 22 in terms of showcasing his skills; they illustrated his ability to recover from damage and execute a gameplan while at the same time showing that he tends to get rocked at least once a fight. And if we know anything based on Tito’s most recent win, it’s that he can exploit an opening when he sees one.
How it will go down: The thrill of victory will be sweet but short for Ortiz. Evans will utilize his superior striking and speed to outbox “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” en route to a unanimous decision victory that will leave fans questioning Rashad’s recent lack of finishing ability even quicker than they’ll be writing off Ortiz’s win over Bader altogether. Tito will later claim that he had a lethal combination of typhoid fever and spina bifida heading into the fight.
What happened the first time: Though there are some detractors out there who will tell you the fight wasn’t going Anderson’s way…it was basically going Anderson’s way. Silva was easily outclassing Okami on the feet, landing quick combinations and leg kicks, but Okami weathered the early storm and managed to secure a takedown. After a failed triangle attempt, Anderson decided that he had spent enough time on his back and threw a vicious (and totally illegal) upkick, rendering Okami unable to continue and earning him the victory via DQ. It would be the last time to date that Silva would lose a match.
What’s happened since then: Did you hear what I just said? In the five years since the DQ loss, Silva has racked up 15 straight victories including a UFC record eight straight title defenses. He has become so powerful in fact, that he was even able to convince the world that this guy is still a force to be reckoned with. Okami has enjoyed a good bit of success as well, going 12-3 since the victory and picking up wins over top contenders Mark Munoz and Nate Marquardt, the latter of which earned him the rematch with Silva.
Things to consider: Throughout his UFC career, fans have been questioning Okami’s lack of, well, thunder. Other than a KO of the late Evan Tanner and his TKOs over Octagon washouts Lucio Linhares and Kalib “Running Man” Starnes, Yushin has seemed to lack the killer instinct and therefore PPV draw of other title contenders, which has likely cost him a shot at Anderson in the past. And although Silva’s victories have ranged from downright brutal to downright disrespectful, there is no denying the Spider’s ability to simply win no matter what the circumstances.
How it will go down: Anderson has stated before that he has little interest in a rematch with Okami, and if history tells us anything, it’s that an uninspired Anderson Silva can turn an easy win into a smorgasbord of redonk in a hurry. Combine that with Okami’s general unwillingness to engage and we are looking at the makings of one terrible fight. Expect to see Okami sticking to his usual conservative striking routine to set up the takedown and some steady GnP. His recent training with Chael Sonnen only reinforces this theory, because you don’t go to Sonnen’s gym for the BJJ lessons. Sadly for Okami, this plan will come with much less success, as Silva will stop most if not all of Okami’s takedowns whilst picking him apart on the feet en route to a dominant, though plodding decision. As a result of Anderson’s excessive taunting during the fight, Dana White will first threaten to fire him before immediately setting up Silva v GSP: OMFG.
Hit that “next page” link for a do-over spawned by controversy, and the conclusion (we hope) of a generation-defining lightweight trilogy.