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Friday, July 6, 2007

UFC 73 Stacked Preview and Predictions

UFC 73 Stacked Preview and Predictions:

Hard core fans have been calling for it forever. They wanted a fight card with a bunch of headlining fights in the UFC. UFC President Dana White has finally granted the request. Saturday night fight fans will be entertained with 4 fights that could easily be a main event on most fight cards.
“Stacked” is a great name for the card. Two titles will be on the line. Middleweight Champion Anderson “the Spider” Silva will face former King of Pancrase Nate “the Great” Marquardt, and Lightweight Champion “The Muscle Shark” Sean Sherk will defend his title against Hermes Franca. Also on the card is a grudge match between former UFC Poster boy Tito Ortiz vs. the undefeated reality show star Rashad “Sugar” Evans, and the UFC debut of Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira against his long time rival Heath Herring. Let’s get into the card.

Antonio Rodrigo “Minotauro” Nogueira vs. “The Texas Crazy Horse” Heath Herring

Hardcore fans have waited a long time to see former Pride Heavyweight Champion Nogueira fight in the octagon. What most didn’t expect to see is him face the man he has beaten twice before. If you haven’t seen Nogueira before then you are in for a treat. He is a submission master with great boxing skills and possible the biggest heart in the game. Nogueira has been widely regarded as one of the top Heavyweight fighters for some time. Nogueira has beaten a who’s who list of fighters including Mark Coleman, Mirko Filipovic, Josh Barnett, Fabricio Werdum, Ricco Rodriguez, Dan Henderson, Gary Goodridge, Bob Sapp, Pawel Nastula, Semmy Schilt, Sergei Kharitnov, Enson Inoue, and Jeremy Horn. He has only 1 thorn in his side which is the number 1 fighter in the world named Fedor Emelianenko.
Herring has been a big disappointment since entering the UFC. In his first UFC fight, Herring was taken down at ease by wrestler Jake O’Brien and held down for a decision lost. In his second fight, Herring won a lackluster decision against reality show competitor Brad Imes. Herring does have an impressive resume for himself with wins of top fighters including, Mark Kerr, Igor Vovchanchyn, Evan Tanner, Gary Goodridge, Enson Inoue, Gan Mcgee, and Tom Erikson. Herring has heavy hands and a great ground and pound game but has had a questionable gas tank and his best weapon knees on the ground are not allowed in the UFC.
I really don’t understand why the UFC decided to put this fight together. I am assuming they are trying to guarantee a win for Nogueira considering he has already beaten Herring. Yet, if Nogueira beats Herring then Herring is probable done in the UFC and his acquisition was a waste, yet in the same time if Nogueira loses to Herring then another top Pride fighter doesn’t live up to expectation. It really seems like a no win situation. Anyways as for a prediction, I have Nogueira winning easily. Nogueira is just better in every area of the game. He has better standup, way better BJJ, and a better cardio game. Expect to see Nogueira catch Herring in a submission in the third period.

“The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” Tito Ortiz vs. Rashad “Sugar” Evans

First if this was a battle between nicknames then Tito wins. Anyways it isn’t. Tito Ortiz knows how to sell a fight. Usually if Tito’s match isn’t in the main event, it is still the most intriguing and talked about fight. This one isn’t any different. Tito has had many grudge matches with fighters including Guy Mezger, Ken Shamrock, Chuck Liddell, and even UFC President Dana White. Rashad Evans is just the newest foe. Tito doesn’t just talk. He has been a great fighter for a long time. During the UFC “dark ages”, it was Tito that was the poster boy and kept the organization a float. In the ring Tito has many skills. He has a great clinch game, and one of the best ground and pound games in all of MMA. His elbows from the guard has stopped many opponents. Tito has an underrated striking and BJJ game but his best weapons is probable his strength and cardio. Tito usually overpowers his smaller opponent and uses his cardio game to wear down his foes throughout the rounds. A classic example is his win over Vitor Belfort at UFC 51.
Rashad fighting style is very similar to Tito. He has a great wrestling game (NCAA wrestler at Michigan St.) and a stellar ground and pound. Rashad made his name known to MMA fans while on the second season of the reality TV show the Ultimate Fighter. Rashad would end up winning the Heavyweight contract by winning an absolute war against the much bigger Brad Imes. Rashad would make the transition from heavyweight to light heavyweight with two decisions over former reality stars Sam Hoger and Stephan Bonnar. These wins would label Rashad as a boring fighter who couldn’t end fights. Rashad proved those critics wrong in his last two fights. Rashad would get the biggest win of his career by pounding light heavyweight contender Jason Lambert by vicious ground and pound in their first round match. Rashad would then display his much improved stand up game with a highlight reel high kick KO over Sean Salmon.
These two guys really don’t like each other. The have already had a battle of words over the internet, and even got into a shoving match at a prior UFC event. Tito has to use these emotions to his advantage. Tito has been in these kinds of matches before and needs to keep getting under Rashad’s skin to try and take Rashad off his game plan. It will be difficult because Rashad trains with Greg Jackson’s submission fighting team, which is one of the best camps in all MMA, so he should have a good game plan. Tito is going to be the bigger fighter in this fight and needs to overpower Rashad. Get into clinch, press Rashad against the fence, and take Rashad down. If Tito can get there, elbows will be huge, and even a possible submission if the inexperience Rashad panics. It will be tough though because Rashad might be the better wrestler of the two. He also is more explosive fighter with better hands and he should be able to match Tito’s gas tank. As for a prediction, expect a war. I see Tito passing the torch to Rashad and setting the undefeated fighter up for a title shot. Evans wins by split decision.

Sean “the Muscle Shark” Sherk vs. Hermes Franca

Since the UFC brought back the lightweight division, it has pleased the crowds with amazing fights (Fisher/Stout 1, Griffin/Edgar, and Griffin/Guida are a few examples). This fight should be no exception. Both fighters bring high intensity and a fast pace to fights. Sherk has been in the fight game a very long time. He is a well rounded fighter, with a great wrestling background, short straight boxing skills, and freakish strength. He originally fought as a welterweight and had a ton of success but when he lost 2 marquee matches to much bigger fighters (Matt Hughes and Georges St. Pierre), Sherk decided to move down to the lightweight division. The decision proved to be a good one for Sherk, as he used his strength advantage over Kenny Florian to win the vacant UFC lightweight belt. Sherk is known for his strength. His physique is not matched by anybody in the lightweight division. He looks like the Nintendo character Mega Man. Sherk has good standup technique and awesome double leg takedown slams followed by devastating ground and pound. He has tons of experience and his cardio is second to none. His work out routine is just insane, I challenge everybody to watch his “UFC All Access” episode.
Hermes Franca is known for his wild looping punches and submission game. Hermes Franca has also been around for a long time. He first boosted onto the UFC scene with a bang in 2004. He first beat Rich Crunkilton by unanimous decision and then followed it up with a first round knockout over the then favorite Caol Uno. Franca would then fall short in back to back matches losing two razor shaper decisions in a row to Josh Thomson and Yves Edwards. The UFC would then drop the lightweight division and things would get worse for Franca, when dropped three fights in a row in 2005. Hermes would then go on to win 8 fights in a row, including three in the UFC, when the division returned. First he beat Joe Jordan by third round submission. Next, he would get a come from behind armbar submission win against Jamie Varner. Hermes would then get his most impressive victory in the UFC this past January with a second round TKO win over Spencer Fisher.
The key to victory for Sherk is to over power Franca and uses his ground and pound while avoiding the submission from Franca while in Franca’s guard. The key for Franca is to try to avoid Sherk’s takedown and land one of his bombs on his feet for a KO. Franca is a BJJ black belt but Sherk will be tough to submit because of his short arms and giant neck. I expect this fight to be not as close as people think. I just think Sherk is going to be a monster in the lightweight division. He should be too strong for Franca and his pace will be too hard for Franca to handle. Sherk wins by decision. If the rumors that BJ Penn is moving back up to the welterweight division, then I expect Sherk to be the UFC lightweight champion for a very long time.

Anderson “the Spider” Silva vs. Nate “the Great” Marquardt

In the other title fight, UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva will defend his belt for the first time (because his last challenger didn’t make weight) against seven time King of Pancrase Champion Nate Marquardt, with the winner facing former middleweight champion Rich “Ace” Franklin later this year. This fight pits the striking standout Anderson Silva against the technician Nate Marquardt.
Anderson Silva has entered the UFC with thunder and lightning. He is a Muay Thai kick boxer who originally made his name in Pride and Cage Rage with knockouts over game fighters like Carlos Newton, Alex Steibling, Jeremy Horn (in Gladiator FC), Jorge Rivera, Lee Murray, Curtis Stout and Tony Fryklund (One if the best KO’s ever). Silva would make a big splash in the UFC middleweight division in his UFC debut by giving a free Muay Thai clinic to Chris Leben. He knocked out Leben in just 49 seconds and immediately was granted a title shot against champion Rich Franklin. Silva was the underdog entering the fight but showed the world how dangerous a Muay Thai clinch can be. He blasted Franklin with countless knees to the body and the head until Franklin was knockout in the first round. In Silva’s last fight, he toke on Season 4 of the Ultimate Fighter reality show champion Travis Lutter. This was the first time in the UFC that Silva looked human. He was taken down by Lutter in the first period and was eventually mounted and was close to losing via TKO. In the second round Lutter toke Silva down again. This time Silva would show his BJJ black belt skills off by catching Lutter in a triangle choke and dropped vicious elbows to Lutter’s head, forcing the second round tap out.

Nate Marquardt is not a house hold name to average MMA fans though he sports a perfect 4-0 UFC record and is a seven time King of Pancrase Champion. He debuted in the UFC in the main event of the very first Ultimate Fight Night against Ivan Salaverry. Marquardt was victories in an uneventful match. Marquardt would return at UFC 58 in which he out pointed Joe Doerksen to a unanimous decision. He would then be subjected to unaired prelim fights for his last two fights. First, he scored a second round submission victory over late replacement Crafton Wallace and then won a unanimous decision over Dean Lister. Marquardt is a decent striker but excels in the ground game in which he has fourteen submission victories.
The keys to victory for Anderson Silva is to keep this fight on his feet and land his trademark punches, kicks, knees, and elbows. He also needs to use his clinch but avoid the takedown. The keys to Marquardt’s victory is to by all means take the fight to the ground as quick as possible and avoid any clinch. He needs to overpower Silva and do some damage from the top position on the ground and look for a submission.
I have changed my mind about a dozen times on who is going to win this fight. I am finally picking Marquardt in an upset. As easy as Lutter toke Silva down, I expect Marquardt to do the same and win a unanimous decision.

Other fights on the card predictions:
Kenny Florian vs Alvin Robinson – Florian by submission
Stephan Bonnar vs Mike Nickels – Bonnar by TKO
Chris Lytle vs Jason Gilliam – Lytle by TKO
Frank Edgar vs Matt Bocek – Edgar by decision
Jorge Gurgel vs Diego Saraveia – Gurgel by submission

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