During Tuesday’s UFC 135 press conference in Denver, Colorado, UFC President Dana White made mention of the #1 contender spot for the Light Heavyweight title. He went on record stating that should Rashad Evans defeat Tito Ortiz at UFC 133 on August 6th, he will be next in line and will challenge the winner of Jon Jones vs. Quinton Jackson.
A scenario that would cause more of a stir in the LHW division, however, would be the all-of-a-sudden-possible scenario where Tito Ortiz upsets Evans. Ortiz would then be riding a two fight winning streak against top ranked opponents in the division (something that has not happened since 2000-2001).
When questioned on this point, Dana White entertained the idea of Tito being the #1 contender with a win at UFC 133 but, as logic would have to dictate, also acknowledged that Ortiz might be one more big fight away from a title shot if he gets past Evans. The later would make more sense, especially since he is just now beginning the process of reestablishing himself in the division where he has managed to stay only marginally relevant since late 2006.
Tito’s win over Ryan Bader was a shocker, simply put. He came out aggressive, trusting his striking and something landed. He employed that same tactic against Matt Hamill at UFC 121, with a different result, dropping a unanimous decision to the much less-experienced fighter.
It is quite safe to say that if Tito Ortiz is given a title shot after defeating Rashad Evans, it is much less due to being seen as the fittest challenger to the title and more due to his name and status as a draw. Everyone loves a comeback and a “Cinderella story,” and Tito has written his first chapter with the upset win over Bader. Still, he has some weighty writing to do before the story is moved to the Non-Fiction section of the MMA library.
Rashad Evans is returning from a 14-month career intermission, but given his camp and solid work ethic, “Suga” shouldn’t come out excessively rusty against Ortiz come August 6th. If he wins, as most are expecting him to, there should be few sour faces made at the idea of him challenging either Jones or Jackson for the title, both of whom he has history with.
Whoever emerges with the belt after Jon “Bones” Jones and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson clash at UFC 135 will take his first step from there by taking on a former champion in defense of that title. Will it be sweet “Suga” or the “Bad Boy” from Huntington Beach? We would love to hear what you think!
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