Tito Ortiz, Rashad Evans Fighting for Redemption at UFC 133

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When Tito Ortiz steps in to the Octagon at this Saturday’s UFC 133 to face light-heavyweight contender Rashad Evans, he will be given an opportunity that few fighters ever see—the opportunity to redefine a legacy.

Only one fight removed from a five-fight winless streak spanning nearly five years, Ortiz somehow managed to overcome staggering odds when he defeated Ryan Bader via guillotine in July. The Huntington Beach Bad Boy was in vintage form as he blitzed Bader with punches and immediately locked in the first round choke. A loss would have meant being cut from the UFC, while the win meant an opportunity for something that seemed unthinkable just two months ago.

Even the most optimistic of fans would have been reluctant to predict that a legitimate title track would be presented to Ortiz, based solely on a one fight win streak, yet here we are. A win for Tito will vault him into the light heavyweight title discussion, and probably just one more win away from a shot at the belt.

A guy who at times has been almost impossible to like, Ortiz has battled back from losses—both professionally and personally—to venture in to territory he’ll be wholly unfamiliar with … as an underdog who engenders empathy more often than disdain.

Conversely, Rashad Evans is something of an enigma. A fighter that can rarely control his words, he’s played the heel—usually to great success—in the majority of his appearances. Since his draw with Ortiz four years ago, Evans won a controversial split decision versus Michael Bisping, was behind on the cards to both Chuck Liddell and Forrest Griffin before landing a game-changing punch in each fight, was absolutely dominated by Lyoto Machida, and won close decisions against Thiago Silva and Rampage Jackson.

While each of his wins are impressive, Rashad’s record doesn’t fully illustrate how close he’s been to losing several of these fights over the past four years, just as Ortiz’ 0-4-1 record between 2007 and 2010 fails to show that he managed to stay competitive during the losing streak.

So what does all of this mean to MMA fans hoping for a compelling bout after a slew of matches between little known combatants? It means we’re much more likely to see a competitive scrap reminiscent of the draw these two fighters had in 2007 than the 4-1 odds currently favoring Evans would suggest. Expect a rusty Evans to sneak by a game Ortiz en route to a unanimous decision win.

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