UFC 133 Rashad Evans vs Tito Ortiz..

PHILADELPHIA — Rashad Evans spent 14 months outside the Octagon before the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s ( UFC )  return to Philadelphia on Saturday, so it would have been reasonable to expect some signs of ring rust.

“If that was ring rust,” UFC president Dana White said, “it’s gonna be scary to see when he’s not rusty.”

The No. 1 contender for the light heavyweight title thrashed Tito Ortiz in the main event of UFC 133 before 11,583 mixed martial arts fans at the Wells Fargo Center.

After stopping Ortiz at 4:48 of the second round, Evans actually credited the long layoff with helping him build the UFC / MMA skills that were on display in his dominant performance Saturday.

“I did two camps back-to-back,” Evans said. “I never lived the life of a fighter before. I would do eight weeks of mma camps and that was it, but this time, I was in camp for four months straight and it paid dividends.”

The former Division I wrestler weathered some early strikes and even a takedown from Ortiz in early part of the first round before beginning to get the better of the exchanges, thanks to his superior speed. Evans slammed “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” hard to the mat and was pounding away at him as the round came to a close.

Early in the second, Evans nearly got caught in a guillotine — the same hold that allowed Ortiz to upset Ryan Bader five weeks ago — but managed to escape with technique he credited to jiu-jitsu legend and Holmdel resident Renzo Gracie and UFC vet.

Finally, he had Ortiz on his knees and leveled him with a vicious knee to the solar plexus that left Ortiz slumped on the mat and unable to defend himself.

“My mind was saying, ‘Get up,’ and my body wasn’t doing it,” Ortiz (17-9-1) said. “The referee said, ‘Protect yourself,’ and I tried to get up. My body wouldn’t get up. Rashad was the better fighter tonight. I put my heart out there, but my heart was bigger than my body.”

The bout earned “Fight of the Night” honors and a $70,000 bonus for each fighter. It also kept Evans (16-1-1) in line for a title shot — likely against the winner of next month’s Jon Jones-Quinton “Rampage” Jackson bout.

UFC 133