The rematch was four years in the making.
All it took was a knee injury and an outrageous demand.
UFC President Dana White announced in a conference call Thursday afternoon that the main event of next month’s UFC 133 at the Wells Fargo Center will be Rashad Evans-Tito Ortiz 2. Evans and Ortiz battled to a three-round, unanimous decision draw in July 2007.
The scheduled main event had been Rashad Evans-Phil Davis, but Davis injured his knee in training. He went for a MRI Monday and it was determined that he will not be able to kick box for a minimum of two-and-a-half weeks. The UFC decided they did not want to risk a serious, long-term injury to a promising young fighter, despite Davis’ protestations.
“Phil, 100 percent, wanted the fight,” White said.
According to White, he initially called Ortiz, who passed on the fight due to family reasons. The UFC President then reached out to Lyoto Machida, whose camp accepted the fight before demanding “Anderson Silva money,” which shocked White, who claimed the light heavyweight had “terrorized” him for fights.
Ortiz called White Wednesday night to ask if the fight was available. When he was informed that it was, he took the fight. White noted that the fallback plan was to move Vladimir Matyushenko into the main event from his undercard fight against Alexander Gustafsson, and that middleweights Chris Leben and Chael Sonnen expressed interest in fighting light heavyweight Evans (20-1-1) in text messages.
“Tito stepped up,” White said. “(Tito’s) taking a fight on short notice. I respect that.”
Ortiz (17-8-1) submitted Ryan Bader with a guillotine choke 1:56 into the first round of UFC 132. It was Ortiz’s first win since knocking out Ken Shamrock in October 2006. Moreover, the win kept Ortiz employed in the UFC. White reiterated that while “nobody’s beating up on Tito Ortiz in the last five or six fights,” he “thought it was going to be Tito’s last fight in mixed martial arts.”
Instead, Ortiz will have two fights in a 35-day span while Evans last fought at UFC 114 in May 2010, where he won a unanimous decision over rival Quinton Jackson.
“‘I don’t care who you get. I’m ready to fight,’” White recalled Evans telling him when informed about Davis’ injury and the search for a replacement. “Rashad has had a string of bad luck; hasn’t fought in a year in a half. He’s hungry.”
Both Ortiz and Evans have earned White’s ire in the past. Machida is now in White’s doghouse thanks to the actions of his camp, which White called “completely out of the ordinary.”
“Anderson Silva is undefeated in the UFC since 2006. You want his money? I don’t know if he knows (what his camp did). I guarantee he knows it now. He had his opportunity,” White said. “I’m disappointed in the way they handled it. What makes you think you deserve Anderson Silva money? Very weird and very unlike Lyoto Machida.”