Injuries.  They’ve shaped UFC 133.

Rashad Evans was slated to face Phil Davis in a battle of true top contenders in the light heavyweight division.  Instead, when he sets foot inside the Octagon at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, he will find himself in a rematch again a former light heavyweight champion who has not been considered a contender in several years.

That man is Tito Ortiz.  “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” has a way of capturing the spotlight, even when he rides an extended losing streak.  However, Tito was able to swing talk from his retirement to that of his chances at one final run at a championship.  While he was initially reluctant to accept the fight against Evans, Ortiz now enters the cage with the chance to instantly move his name to the top of the 205-pound contender list.

Injuries haven’t just changed the main event.  Further down the main card, middleweight Jorge Rivera was preparing for his fight with Alessio Sakara.  It had become somewhat of a regular task for him.  After all, the two had been scheduled to meet on two prior occasions, with the fight scrapped in both instances.  It turns out the third time was not the charm for Rivera, as Sakara withdrew with an injury again.  Now, Rivera meets yet another late-replacement foe in Constantinos Philippou.  A win would get Rivera back on track, while a loss could find him contemplating retirement.

In the evening’s co-headliner, Vitor Belfort will look to rebound from his failed title bid against Anderson Silva.  Standing in his way is Yoshihiro Akiyama.  Both middleweights would like to get back in the win column, but a loss for Akiyama would likely put him on the chopping block, as it would spell three straight defeats.

Rounding out the pay-per-view card, which airs at 9 p.m. ET on Aug. 6, is a set of welterweight bouts.  Rory MacDonald meets veteran Mike Pyle, while Brian Ebersole brings his shaved chest hair designs and unorthodox style back to the Octagon to meet Dennis Hallman.

The MMA Corner round table panel of Corey Adams, Brian McKenna and Duncan Price share their two cents on who comes out on top in all five main card fights.

WW: Rory MacDonald (11-1) vs. Mike Pyle (21-7-1)

McKenna: The first fight on the pay per view section of the card will pit MacDonald against Pyle. A Canadian native, MacDonald has only one loss in his professional career and it came at the hands of Carlos Condit. On the winning side of things, “Ares” has 10 stoppages in his 11 victories, with six of them by submission. At just 22-years-old, MacDonald is doing all of the right things, including training at the Tristar Gym in Canada, the same gym where welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre trains.

Thirteen years the elder of his opponent, Mike Pyle is looking to earn his fourth straight victory on Saturday. The Xtreme Couture fighter has stopped his opponents 18 times during his 21 victories with 16 coming by way of submission. A key submission victory that Pyle holds is a rear-naked choke against future contender Jon Fitch, the only time Fitch has ever tapped the canvas.

Rory MacDonald (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

With a combined 22 victories by submission, we are due for a great fight to kick off the pay-per-view. For some funny reason, I see the grappling cancelling each other out and the young gun MacDonald earning the technical knockout.

Price: MacDonald is a great prospect and arguably the biggest Canadian talent since GSP burst onto the scene. The quality of his training partners and his considerable raw talent has elevated him to where he is now. He looked extremely good in his last bout against Nate Diaz, dominating his highly-rated opponent on the way to a well-deserved decision win.

Pyle is a really good submission fighter, but I don’t see him tapping the younger and more energetic MacDonald. Always a solid competitor, if Pyle had been given an opportunity back in the early days of the UFC, he may well have proved to be a title contender. Unfortunately now he is advancing in years and faster, stronger, more athletic fighters populate the welterweight ranks.

In my opinion, MacDonald takes this one in decisive fashion, knocking Pyle out in the second round.

Adams: This fight kicks off the main card and has the makings to be worthy of Fight of Night honors.

MacDonald is a very impressive welterweight, having only one loss on his record. That defeat came to the hands of top contender Condit, who was able to end the fight in the final seconds of the third round. MacDonald did rebound, however, by defeating Nate Diaz in April. I’m looking forward to watching the Canadian as he improves more and more in his career.

Something interesting to note about the Tennessee native Pyle is in his first professional MMA fight, he fought Rampage, losing by decision. Now to present day, “Quicksand” is on a three-fight winning streak. Pyle has always been known as a tough guy in the sport, which gives MacDonald a good test.

MacDonald takes this one, but it won’t be an easy fight for him. My hunch is that he will stay on his feet, avoiding the ground game of the BJJ black belt, and will earn a unanimous decision victory.

MW: Jorge Rivera (19-8) vs. Constantinos Philippou (7-2)

Price: It just seems destined never to happen. Every time Rivera has been booked to fight tough Italian striker Alessio Sakara, the fight has been changed or scrapped due to injury, this now being the third time to my knowledge. Rivera will take on Constantinos Philippou, who comes in on short notice for the second consecutive time in his UFC tenure.

Philippou, a native of Cyprus, was actually brought in to replace Riki Fukuda in a planned preliminary bout with Rafael Natal until he was bumped to meet Rivera on the main televised card. The fact that he was in training already for this event should mean that he doesn’t have to deal with quite the same issues as an extremely late call-up, for example shortened training camps and additional weight-cutting. Phillippou is yet to set the MMA world alight, losing on his UFC debut to Nick Catone. He is a solid if unspectacular striker and will likely be happy to trade with his opponent on the feet. Philippou really needs a good showing here against the aging Rivera in order to cement a place in the promotion.

Jorge Rivera (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)

Rivera enters this bout after losing a controversial fight against Michael Bisping at UFC 127. During the first round, Bisping landed an illegal knee that some people believe changed the outcome of the fight. There is no doubt that Rivera is beginning to get past his prime. However, with that said, he is still a dangerous fighter and has a ton of experience. In the past, he has beaten title contenders such as Travis Lutter, David Loiseau, Dennis Hallman, Nate Quarry and Chris Leben. Rivera is also primarily a striker and I believe that he will make this fight entertaining for the fans and stay standing with his opponent.

Although Rivera is nearing the end of his career, he will have the skills to stop Philippou on the feet. Rivera takes this fight by TKO in the second round.

Adams: We may not see much more of Rivera, as he has stated he could retire after this fight, so be sure to watch this hard-hitting matchup.

I think both of these guys are going to make this into a slugfest. If you look at their records, both primarily win by knockout.

In a stand-up exchange between two guys with heavy hands, it’s a toss up when predicting a winner. But I’m going to go with the more experienced fighter and pick Rivera. He has a habit of leaving his chin out on occasions and has been knocked out three times in his career, but he’ll get the knockout early in this fight.

McKenna: Philippou appeared to be a force to be reckoned with as he made his UFC debut back at UFC 128. Nick Catone quickly derailed the top prospect when he defeated the native of Cyprus by unanimous decision. When prospects come up with a lot of momentum behind them, it is important for them to win that first fight in the big leagues because you only get one chance to make a first impression, something that Philippou wishes he could get back. This Saturday could be a make or break fight for his career and a chance to legitimize some of the hype that was originally behind him.

It could be argued that the most recent fight that Rivera participated in should have been changed to a no-contest. Ultimately, because he decided to continue, it was not changed, but it showed that the guy has a heart of a lion. Forgetting the Bisping bout, “El Conquistador” had looked solid and won his previous three fights, which shows you that age is only a number for the 39-year-old. He is probably chomping at the opportunity to earn the victory in what could likely be his retirement bout from the sport.

Rivera hails from similar territory as myself, which gives me a reason to pull for the guy this Saturday. All biases aside though, I think Rivera’s hands will be too much for the prospect and he will find a spot to achieve the knockout early in the second.

WW: Dennis Hallman (50-13-2) vs. Brian Ebersole (47-14-1)

Adams: With a combined 129 total fights between them, these two veterans of the sport will do battle on the pay-per-view card.

Hallman is the elder of the two, at 35 years of age, and was the first to defeat Matt Hughes back in 1998. Yes, that is 1998, not 2008. Hallman is a pioneer of the sport, competing in three different weight classes while traveling around the world fighting in numerous organizations. What stands out about Hallman’s record is that he has 38 submission wins, and has never been submitted in his career.The grappling game will be a huge advantage for him in this fight.

Ebersole also holds an impressive statistic: He has never been knocked out in his career. Ebersole shaves an arrow pointing up to his chin letting his opponents know where it is located. No one has ever touched it hard enough yet, and I don’t think the grappler Hallman will be able to either. The 30-year-old Ebersole put on an impressive performance against UFC vet Chris Lytle at UFC 127, winning by decision. I think that momentum will carry over in this bout.

Ebersole will try to keep the fight standing to avoid the grappling game of Hallman. This will allow him to earn a TKO finish late in the fight.

McKenna: It took 46 victories for Brian Ebersole to finally find a spot on a UFC card, and it could be argued that he stole the show by throwing cartwheel kicks and with the aforementioned unique chest hair. However, as Corey also pointed out, he has never been knocked out, which is the most impressive thing about him. His submission defense is not as solid as his chin, however, as he has been submitted nine times in his 14 career loses.

A submission specialist who has won 38 of his 50 victories by forcing his opponent into tapping the mat, Hallman enters the bout on a two-fight winning streak. His success in submitting his opponent works well in the match-up for this fight, as Hallman is by no means a knockout artist, even though he has won five fights in that manner. With all of this being said, I am going to take Hallman in this fight because of the grappling advantage. Hallman earns the submission sometime in the second round.

Price: Both these guys are just incredibly experienced, so this could end up as a fairly tactical battle. I could be wrong, but I just don’t see this as an all-out war.

It’s a real tough call, but I just have a feeling for Hallman in this one. Ebersole has been submitted by arguably less-experienced grapplers in the past, and I think that could be an element that slightly tips the balance in his opponent’s favor.

I’m prepared to be wrong here, but I’m going to say Hallman by submission in the third round.

MW: Vitor Belfort (19-9) vs. Yoshihiro Akiyama (13-3)

Price: After being spectacularly knocked out by Anderson Silva, Belfort needs to bounce back quickly here. As people like Rich Franklin have shown, if you can’t beat Silva there’s not a lot of room for you in the middleweight division.

Belfort holds a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt, but it has always been his hand speed and striking ability that has gained him fans across the globe. He burst onto the MMA scene at UFC 12 where he was victorious against UFC veteran and Lion’s Den fighter Tra Telligman at the age of just nineteen. Belfort competed within the UFC from 1997 to 2005, parting ways with the promotion following two consecutive losses. Several years and several organizations later, Belfort resurfaced in the UFC, earning a title shot after just one fight where he quickly dispatched former champ Franklin in the first round of their highly anticipated tussle. Unfortunately, that is where his good run of form ended, as Silva landed an unusually powerful front kick right on his chin in their title fight at UFC 126, knocking Belfort clean out.

In a lot of ways, Akiyama holds a similar arsenal of weapons to his opponent, although I would have to say that he is weaker in each individual area than Belfort. Arguably, Akiyama does not deserve a shot at his Brazilian counterpart as he has lost his last two fights to Chris Leben and Michael Bisping respectively. Many people also thought that he was lucky to come away with the win in his promotional debut against Alan Belcher at UFC 100. A black belt in Judo, Akiyama is not afraid to go for a throw or submission, but he has appeared happy to trade on the feet so far in his UFC career. Despite his grappling pedigree, he has never tapped anyone near the level of Belfort, so I don’t believe Akiyama will be looking to go to the ground.

Belfort is the better fighter in every area. Akiyama is a solid competitor, but the UFC appears at this point to be pushing the man based on his popularity in his homeland rather than his ability in the cage, but who can blame them? I see Belfort winning this one by TKO sometime during the second round.

McKenna: While Akiyama has indeed gone 1-2 in the UFC and lost his last two fights, he has also won Fight of the Night honors in all three of his fights with the promotion. Sure, winning is important, but as evidenced with Nam Phan getting his win bonus after his loss against Leonard Garcia, the executives at the top of the UFC love fighters that put on great shows. Because of that, I have to oppose Duncan here as he suggests that the Japanese fighter doesn’t deserve to fight someone like Belfort. Let’s not forget that in the Brazilian’s last fight all he did was circle for some three minutes until he got kicked in the face. While fighting in Asia prior to signing on with the UFC, “Sexyama” earned five knockouts and seven submissions in just 12 fights. That right there is elite on any level.

Now one thing I definitely do not want people to think is that I think Belfort is a bum in this sport, because he really is one of the best fighters we have seen. The Brazilian gained a boatload of his popularity early in his career with the UFC and Pride due to his ability to knock out his opponents, something he has done 13 total times. But also as Duncan said, do not sleep on his ground game, as he is a black belt in jiu-jitsu and he is not afraid to be on the ground if hit with a takedown or a toss.

Yoshihiro Akiyama (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)

Akiyama will be making his return to the cage after having to pull out from UFC 128 after the tragic earthquake and tsunami struck Japan in March. With the pride of his nation behind him while recovery efforts are still being made, I think that “Sexyama” will pull off a great submission early in the third round.

Adams: This is a tough fight to call, as “The Phenom” takes on Japanese icon Akiyama.

Both men are in a must-win situation. The former UFC light heavyweight champion Belfort was last defeated by Anderson Silva for the middleweight crown via front kick to the face. The 34-year-old’s career is slowly ending, so a win over Akiyama would help his status.

Akiyama arguably needs a win even more, as he has lost in his last two bouts. After a loss to the resilient Chris Leben, he lost in a three-round battle with Bisping, both fights earning Fight of the Night.

My heart says to go with Belfort, but my mind says to pick Akiyama. In the end, I’m going with “Sexyama” by decision. He is known for having a tough chin, so if he is able to fend off the punches of Belfort, he can pick apart the Brazilian for all three rounds.

LHW: Rashad Evans (15-1-1) vs. Tito Ortiz (16-8-1)

Rashad Evans (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)

McKenna: Evans has had a rough go at it recently. Sure, the former light heavyweight champion is on a two-fight winning streak, but the events of the last year have been hard on him. If we rewind to last May, we will remember that he became the No. 1 contender to Mauricio Rua’s championship after defeating Quinton Jackson at UFC 114. Then, Rua needed surgery so “Suga” had to wait a while to defend the title and in the extended time off, the Greg Jackson fighter injured himself and the title shot went to another Jackson fighter, Jon Jones. “Bones” took the title from “Shogun” and the next in line for the title was again Evans, who left Jackson’s camp because fighters from the same camp rarely fight one another. Jones versus Evans was scheduled for UFC 133, and shortly after was cancelled due to an apparent hand injury for the new champion. Not wanting to wait any longer for a fight, Rashad accepts a fight against replacement Phil Davis. Soon thereafter, it was reported that “Bones” does not need surgery and will take on Jackson, the guy that Evans defeated for the top contender spot, at UFC 135. Finally, “Mr. Wonderful” needed to pull out of the fight and Tito Ortiz stepped in, fresh off of his victory at UFC 132.

All of this had to have been extremely frustrating for Evans, but that does not take away from the fact that he is a dynamic fighter. The winner of the second season of “The Ultimate Fighter” hails from New York and now trains with Imperial Athletics in Florida. He holds quick hands and five victories by knockout, including the Knockout of the Year in 2008 for his work against Chuck Liddell. A former JUCO wrestling champion, Evans also wrestled at Michigan State and is notorious for those same wrestling skills while fighting in mixed martial arts. He is looking to take down Ortiz and earn his way back to another title fight.

In the UFC 132 round table, I ripped Ortiz pretty harshly. At the time, I compared him to a washed-up Michael Jordan while playing for the Washington Wizards and was throwing cliches around such as “what have you done for me lately?” Well, like a lot of his critics, I have been shut up by “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” after he dominated Ryan Bader at UFC 132. Now with Phil Davis having to pull out of the fight with a knee injury, Ortiz has stepped up on short notice to take on Evans in the main event of the evening. It was widely accepted that if the former champion lost to Bader he would have been released from the promotion, but he has new life now with the victory. Despite this, it would be crazy to pick Ortiz. Evans earns the title shot with a knockout of Ortiz.

Adams: “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” steps in as a late replacement for Phil Davis and now makes this main event even better, as he will battle Evans for the second time.

Brian laid out the struggles for Evans perfectly. He has missed his opportunities for fighting for the belt many times. He now gets to renew a grudge match against Ortiz, a rivalry that dates back to 2007 where the two fought to a draw. I guarantee you this: The second fight will not be called a draw.

Tito Ortiz (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)

I, like everyone else, doubted Ortiz in his fight with Bader, but he surprised us all by submitting Bader with a guillotine choke in the first round. With the win, I am on “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy’s” bandwagon! I didn’t believe Ortiz would be able to take out a tough fighter in Bader, which now makes me not want to pick against him again.

I may seem crazy to pick Ortiz, but I’m going with the upset. Now that he is fully healthy, he can work his way up the light heavyweight division once again. I will give credit to Evans because he is a tough fighter, but I just believe it is Ortiz’s time to shine. He gets the win by knocking out “Suga” in the second round.

Price: As with Corey and Brian, I dismissed the chances of an aging Ortiz at UFC 132. Whilst I was very impressed by how much Tito had improved from his previous bout with Matt Hamill, I was just as disappointed by the performance of Bader.

It’s all very well for people to say that Tito is back. He was a good, but in my opinion not great, champion who unfortunately got left behind in terms of the true evolution of MMA. The only reason he was still in the UFC to fight Bader is that he has name value and draws pay-per-view buys.

So my point-of-view on Tito is that, yes he can still do a job, yes he can still school rookies, but when did he truly last beat a true title contender?

I’m not a massive fan of Evans, but I just see him holding an advantage in virtually every area over Ortiz. I agree that he has been out of action for some time, but I don’t believe it will be a big factor for a guy like him. I think Evans’ hunger to get another title shot will show through and provide enough extra motivation to get the win.

I see Evans controlling this fight and coming away with the unanimous decision victory when all is said and done. Or who knows, maybe Tito shocks us all again….

Top Photo: Rashad Evans (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)