Vitor Belfort took Yoshihiro Akiyama to school at UFC 133: Evans vs. Ortiz, knocking out the Japanese judoka in the first round of their fight and earning himself the MMAWeekly.com Fighter of the Night award.
Of course, Belfort also earned the UFC 133 Knockout of the Night bonus amounting to $70,000 on top of his fight purse and win bonus, but his quick finish and performance following his outing previous to UFC 133 makes it pretty clear he was the MVP of the entire card.
When “The Phenom” stepped into the Octagon to face middleweight champion Anderson Silva at UFC 126: Silva vs. Belfort, many touted the challenger to be the one fighter most capable of matching Silva in a standing fight. Vitor’s legendary quick hands had taken out the likes of Rich Franklin, a young Wanderlei Silva, and a long list of others through a career lasting 15 years. It was only reasonable to suspect that those same hands would give the UFC middleweight champion trouble when the two finally met in February, earlier this year.
Nope, not so much.
Silva threw a front kick – a technique, allegedly, taught by actor Steven Seagal – and it landed on Belfort’s chin, leading to an eventual first-round stoppage and another win for the “The Spider.”
After being on the wrong side of a highlight reel knockout, such as the one he experienced at UFC 126, the pressure was on for Belfort to shine bright against Akiyama and prove he could get back on track with a decisive win.
Decisive might be an understatement because just after Belfort landed the knockout blow, his opponent was unconscious and flat on his face as though he was planking in the middle of the Octagon.
The Fighter of the Night feels that no one can match his strength at middleweight and he eagerly wants another shot at the belt.
“I think, in this weight division, there’s nobody stronger than me,” Belfort said shortly after his UFC 133 knockout win.
“I want the winner of Anderson (Silva) and (Yushin) Okami.”
Although UFC president Dana Whtie explained that Vitor has to do a little bit more work before he gets a second shot at the middleweight strap, it’s clear that if he continues laying out opponents the way he did Yoshihiro Akiyama, he’ll get his shot soon enough.
For now, he’ll walk away with an extra $70,000 for Knockout of the Night and bragging rights for being MMAWeekly.com’s Fighter of the Night.
Ring rust? What’s that?
If you ask Rashad Evans those questions, he probably won’t be able to tell you from experience, only that people speculated he’d suffer from it leading into his UFC 133 main event with Tito Ortiz.
A ripped and in-shape Evans walked into the Octagon Saturday night in Philadelphia and quickly put to rest any thought of him having trouble readjusting to fighting after a 14-month layoff. In an impressive performance, Evans took Ortiz to task and pressured the “Huntington Beach Bad Boy” for nearly two full rounds before the fight was stopped due to a technical knockout.
At one point in the fight, Evans even picked up Ortiz, put him over his shoulder and slammed him onto the mat as if to say, “ring rust this, son!”
It was as though Evans took no time off and had been fighting regularly for the 14 months between his last bout with “Rampage” Jackson and his UFC 133 match with Ortiz. Obviously, continuing to train when healthy and focusing on staying in shape paid off for Evans. In addition, his performance against Ortiz on Saturday looked worlds better than the first time they met at UFC 73 in 2007 where the two fought to a draw.
That didn’t happen this time and Evans made sure of it. Bravo for getting it done the second time around. Fighter of the Night Honorable Mention goes to “Suga” Rashad Evans for proving ring rust is just a myth.
Worth a Mention: Dennis Hallman’s Speedo
Yup, he wore one at UFC 133… That is all.
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