UFC 133 is tonight and what better way to prep yourself for the action than with the Fightlinker guide to all the action? We’ve got a list of all the reasons this event still matters, a breakdown of the betting action, and an explanation of who all the unknown fighters are. And just to whet your action, some gifs of the fighters from past events showing off what they can do. Come with us on a bloggy adventure!
Johny Hendricks drops TJ Waldburger at UFC Fight Night 24. Notice the ref’s awesome breakdance move at the end. Johny will be taking on Mike Pierce during the Facebook prelims.
The rest after the jump! Special thanks to Peter O’Toole for the snazzy custom image you see above!
What still matters
Rashad Evans’ title shot
We’d be watching Rashad Evans fighting the guy that basically replaced him at Greg Jackson’s tonight if it weren’t for a wonky hand injury that was and then wasn’t a big deal. But so long as Rashad doesn’t blow things tonight, he should be lined right back up for the grudge match we all want to see. Unless ring rust fells him. Or Tito’s sudden burst of confidence was all that was wrong with him and he becomes a posterboy for the powers of The Secret.
Chad Mendes’ title shot
All that stands between Chad Mendes and a featherweight title match is Rani Yahya. Well, Rani and a terrible terrible performance. Something tells me UFC execs are a little leery about losing their firebrand killer champ Jose Aldo in exchange for a dude who’s all about wrestlefucking.
Yoshihiro Akiyama’s career
The only thing dumber than releasing Fedor before getting him on a PPV card is releasing Akiyama before getting him on a Japanese card. But like many Asian fighters, he’s been struggling to get anything done in the UFC. If it weren’t for a gift decision in his debut against Alan Belcher, he’d be 0-3 right now. If he loses to Vitor Belfort (almost a ‘when’ he loses to Vitor Belfort), he’s probably done in the UFC.
Rory MacDonald’s status as the Next Big Thing
Rashad Evans gets Tito Ortiz, Vitor Belfort gets Yoshihiro Akiyama, Chad Mendes gets Rani Yahya, and Rory MacDonald gets Mike Pyle. The only one not fighting to get back into immediate title contention is Rory, yet he’s got the most difficult opponent of all. Pyle seems to have finally put all his shit together and is on a nice run in the UFC. If Rory isn’t everything he’s been built up to be and more, Saturday is going to be a bad night for him.
Nick Pace catches Will Campuzano in what becomes known as the Pace Choke. I still have no idea how the hell it works. Pace takes on Ivan Menjivar on the Facebook prelims.
Fight of the Night: Rory MacDonald vs Mike Pyle
Knockout of the Night: Vitor Belfort
Submission of the Night: Nick Pace
Ivan Menjivar gives Charlie Valencia a discount nose job. Menjivar is fighting Nick Pace on the Facebook prelims.
Odds and Ends
If you’re the kind of person who can’t feel the rush of excitement MMA provides without having your mortgage payments riding on Tito Ortiz, then consider signing up with BetUS. They’ll happily take your money, and more importantly pay out if you know how to pick fights. Here’s some random thoughts on UFC 133 betting.
Ivan Menjivar might be flying high after a sweet nose shattering elbow KO at UFC 129 but in the end he’s still an old dog compared to Nick Pace (+180). Sure, it’s possible that Menjivar will be able to hurt Pace on the feet, but it’s more likely that Pace is going to take Ivan down and keep him down.
Based on what we’ve seen from Rory MacDonald, it’s perfectly understandable that he’s the favorite going into his fight with Mike Pyle (+210). But Pyle has more than a good chance of winning this fight – he’s a strong, wily veteran who isn’t afraid to grind if he has to in order to win.
An interesting addition to BetUS since we last talked odds: Over / Unders for every fight, where you’re betting on the fight ending before halfway through the second round or after. Basically, it’s pretty much a ‘decision or not’ bet. BetUS’s picks for more likely to finish than go to a decision? Belfort vs Akiyama, Rivera vs Phillippou, and Brown vs Phan. I’m thinking Gustafsson vs Hamill will finish as well, but at +130 it’s not that crazy of a bet.
Parlay bets: String together the obvious winners Rashad Evans, Vitor Belfort, Chad Mendez and Mike Brown and you’ve got a +175 bet. Get a bit riskier with Brian Ebersole, Alexander Gustaffson, and Mike Pierce for a +480 return.
Jorge Rivera catches Nate Quarry first. Rivera will be fighting Constantinos Phillippouon on the main card at UFC 133
Who the fuck is
Alexander Gustafsson: Gustafsson is 3-1 in the UFC with his only loss coming to Phil Davis. He outstruck Cyrille Diabate with relative ease and burned through James Te Huna at UFC 127. His main skill is his striking but he’s got some decent takedown defense. Not so decent is his grappling once he’s down on the ground – he ends up in a lot of bad spots and often loses advantageous positions because his top game is so loose. Still, the reason people are so hot on Gustafsson is his swing for the fences aggression and KO power. We’ll see if Rampage was full of shit when he said Hamill can’t be knocked out because Gustafsson is gonna light him up.
Paul Bradley: Stepping up with a week’s notice to face Rafael Natal is Paul Bradley, aka the guy removed from TUF 7 because of a case of herpes gladiatorum. Since then he’s gone 8-2-1, but his record is littered with the kind of epic cans you’d expect to only see in boxing. The records of the last three guys he beat before getting called up to the UFC last second: 13-14, 1-30, and 0-9. Yes, one of those guys is 1-30. One win and thirty losses. ONE WIN AND THIRTY LOSSES!!!!!!!!
As for his fighting style, Mauro Ranallo once referred to him as the ‘Minnesota Mat Maven’, aka he’s big on wrasslin and uses it to get into positions where he can choke his opponents out. The only time I’ve seen his standup was when he tried to bang with Luke Rockhold and got iced pronto for his troubles. Not like he has to worry too much about that against someone like Natal.
Constantinos Phillippou: Phillippou is a slow starter but isn’t afraid to start throwing for the fences if that’s what his opponent is up to. Probably why they picked him to face off against Jorge Rivera. His grappling sucks, but in a fight like this who really cares? He doesn’t have the resume as a KO artist like Rivera does though … he’s probably going to get iced in this one.
Alexander Gustaffson takes out Jared Hamman in the first round of their fight. Gustaffson will be taking on Matt Hamill on the Spike prelim card.