It’s a trifecta of main event quality fights in what could be one of the most underrated UFC cards in a long time. These match-ups might not have a lot of glitter, but these are some hardnosed, straight forward fighters that are going to lay it all on the line Saturday night.
Two titles will be on the line as Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva will take on Nate Marquardt and Lightweight Champion Sean Sherk faces off with Hermes Franca in what should be a pair of explosive encounters. And that’s what the UFC is considering to be the warm up fights for the main event between the UFC’s longtime bad boy Tito Ortiz and Ultimate Fighter 2 winner Rashad Evans. It’s safe to say that this event is appropriately named because this card is indeed stacked from top to bottom.
When it comes to the middleweight division, we don’t see anyone who can hang with The Spider right now. His skills are too well rounded and he’s been simply assassinating some of the UFC’s biggest and most popular stars. But Nate Marquardt is no joke inside the cage with a 28-6-1 record to prove it and if he can take this fight to the ground, he just might walk out of UFC 73 with some gold around his waist. And a long, lanky frame is exactly what a submission artist like Marquardt loves to deal with. Still, we can’t go against the champ in this one as his ever evolving skills should prove too much to handle as long as he can avoid the take down. If these guys stay on their feet, Marquardt will be going to sleep from the heavy hands of Silva.
Then there’s the title bout between champ Sean Sherk and challenger Hermes Franca in the 155-pound division. The Muscle Shark will be defending his newly won title for the first time after falling off the UFC map for a while and Hermes Franca will be more than willing to make knock him back out of the spotlight. But the longer this fight goes, the more of an advantage Sherk will have. Championship bouts are five rounds and there might not be a more conditioned athlete in the game than Sherk; not to mention the 38 previous professional fights he has under his belt. Franca needs to utilize his submission skills in this fight, but it’s going to be a tough challenge considering that Sherk has the size and strength to completely dominate him on the ground. Expect Sherk to walk out of the octagon with his belt in hand.
Of course, the most hyped fight of the night involves one of the greatest stars the UFC has ever seen in Tito Ortiz and the undefeated up-n-comer Rashad Evans. Ortiz obviously has some type of mental hang-up and devolves into a whole other fighter when put in the cage with Chuck Liddell, but throw him in there with almost anyone else and he’s one of the most lethal opponents in the sport with a 16-5 record. Evans, on the other hand, hasn’t encountered any kryptonite on his way to an unblemished 15-0 record as a pro. Both guys have bricks for fists, both guys have great takedowns, both guys have great takedown defense and both guys are desperate to grab the No. 1 contender status for Quinton Jackson’s Light Heavyweight Championship belt. Throw in some bad blood stemming from typical Ortiz hijinks and you’ve got all the makings of a big time face-smasher.
There’s no doubt that Evans is climbing the proverbial ladder straight to the top of the UFC with his impressive debut in the company, but beating a bunch of reality stars/UFC wannabes is not the same thing as taking on a MMA legend. Ortiz has been in the ring with the best of the best and Evans is going to be just another paycheck to the Huntington Beach Bad Boy while there will probably be a little hint of awe in the eyes of Evans. We’re expecting a great contest with a good share of face swelling, but when the smoke clears from this battle, we’ll be talking about an upcoming title bout between Ortiz and Rampage.
[UFC.com]: UFC 73: Stacked Home