UFC 73 “STACKED” BREAKDOWN
Written by Matt Boone
Just glancing at the card, I can already tell I'm going to have a tough time picking almost every fight and in most cases will probably be going too-far in explaining why I think what I do. There's a lot of intangibles about these fights that most aren't addressing, or not stressing enough – in my opinion. Regardless, UFC has done it with this one and has every right to promote how “Stacked” the line-up is, despite some even finding problems with that. You can't please everyone, but I'd say this card at the very least pleases 99.9% of anyone who enjoys a mixed-martial arts event. Let's take a closer look at the fights …
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira vs. Heath Herring
Boone's Breakdown: There's a bunch of stuff people are forgetting here. Nogueira did beat Herring twice before, but look at the fights closer and include the differences in the one they're about to have. I see everyone going Nogueira by submission – sure he did it the second time, but with a new crazy-choke most hadn't seen. But what about their first fight? And the second fight up until the anaconda got the better of the Texas Crazy-Horse? Herring was on the defensive, yes, but he was avoiding submissions like it was his first language and in the UFC you add in elbows and the cage to stack someone up against. Nogueira's only real weakness is his takedowns/takedown defense, and while normally that isn't a problem because of his insane jiu-jitsu, it could be in the octagon. Now, like I said from the get-go about going out of my way to explain, that's all just playing the other side. I have Nogueira winning by decision – but got 'ya thinking, didn't I?
PREDICTION: Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira via Decision
Sean Sherk (c) vs. Hermes Franca (UFC LW Title)
Boone's Breakdown: I'm kind of torn on this one. My gut reaction says Sherk grinds out a decision unless Franca blasts him with a wild one (yes like he did in the Fisher fight, but he's done it a lot more than just there). Franca has great submission skills and everything, but so does Karo Parisyan, Nick Diaz, Kenny Florian and so on, and so forth. Strength, Franca is a tough Lightweight, but Sherk was considered freakishly tough himself even at Welterweight. The kind-hearted individuals may hope for Franca to get the belt after his kneeling request the same way Georges St. Pierre did, but in the end I don't see him having the formula to deal with Sherk.
PREDICTION: Sean Sherk retains title via Decision
Tito Ortiz vs. Rashad Evans
Boone's Breakdown: This should obviously be the main event, although the die-hards will surely consider that an idiotic statement considering it's two top ten guys (south of the list if even on it, they'd be quick to point out) fighting on a card where there's two very credible world title fights. That's all stuff to file under the “blah-blah” category though. I don't really care if this fight airs third to last or last, it's not a prelim so I'll see the fight regardless. Now that that's done with, the fight itself outside their great publicity for it is one that excites me, but in breaking it down – probably won't sound exciting. To me the only question that needs answered is – who's getting the takedown? The striking in my opinion is really only going to be a mask for both guys, unless someone starts to tire as the fight goes on, or something up that alley. But the question of who gets the takedown prompts me to respond with an unfavorable “I don't know.” I guess they say Evans is the better actual wrestler, but Ortiz is physically stronger – and in MMA everything changes. I get all that. For Tito Ortiz, when the bell rings he needs to explode with his “ferocity” (that's gotta be his favorite word, by the way) as he is a front-runner kind of guy. Evans you can't really gauge as well because you've only seen a handful of his fights, he improves everytime, but isn't really fighting guys that are going to really-really challenge him. Brad Imes was big, and that was a dog fight. That one stands out. Stephan Bonnar was a unique test for the time – and Evans didn't really shine there but he did get the win. The Jason Lambert fight has to be the most impressive on his resume' as everyone will point out. Sean Salmon is the one most casual fans probably know Evans for, and the one that has everyone in a frenzy about his improved striking. He was having a rough time until that kick, by the way. It's a tough call, but I'm going to say experience, power and “ferocity” is going to be too much in the end.
PREDICTION: Tito Ortiz via Decision
Kenny Florian vs. Alvin Robinson
Boone's Breakdown: I'm not even going to pretend to know anything about Robinson. I hit-up Sherdog's Fight Finder like 90% of the rest of the MMA world did when this fight was announced. Unless they want to rush Florian back into a rematch with Sherk, I'm not sure why this is main card over some of the prelims. You'd think just from a marketing standpoint Stephan Bonnar could sell a couple more tickets, no? Is this a showcase fight or do the UFC scouts know something about Robinson I don't (which is very-very possible, by the way) and are getting him nicely set into the Lightweight picture? The division is too deep right now to be hand-picking guys to build back up a guy who just got a title shot, so I would assume he's the real deal. Can't assume he'll win off that alone and I've never seen him fight so you know who I'm picking. And just because Robinson has all wins by submission I'll go to the elbows everyone likes to talk about with Florian as the way the fight ends.
PREDICTION: Kenny Florian via TKO
Anderson Silva (c) vs. Nate Marquardt (UFC MW Title)
Boone's Breakdown: If you follow my columns, I've been building up Marquardt since he arrived on the scene. Now he was obviously well established and highly regarded before he arrived to the UFC, but the second he did show up – I have been waiting for him to take over the division. He's a monster of a guy with an awesome ground game and good striking to go with it. He's got good wrestling. He's a complete fighter. That certainly doesn't mean Anderson Silva isn't a complete fighter, because he's got some of the best striking in the game overall right now and his jiu-jitsu is great as well, but he's been caught quite a few times before and will likely be at a strength disadvantage to Marquardt. I would have Silva an underdog in this fight, but wouldn't be shocked if he got a knockout. If it goes the distance I don't see him out-fighting Marquardt for five-five minute periods. I just don't see it. I smell an “upset” here (I wouldn't consider it one personally) and a new world Middleweight champion. As a fan, I guess Silva winning is better going forward as Rich Franklin is nice and set for the winner, and the better story belongs to Franklin-Silva II, but this isn't the movie-world and the upset bug is still lingering in Zuffa-land.
PREDICTION: Nate Marquardt via TKO or Decision
What a great card this is going to be. If any prelims air (which might be a problem with two title fights – five rounders) it's just a complete bonus. Not just because it's more fighting, but the prelim card is basically a UFC Fight Night-type Spike TV line-up in itself. Chris Lytle, Jorge Gurgel, Frank Edgar, Stephan Bonnar – a lot of great fights going on there alone. The main card speaks for itself …and, well I spoke for it some just now and had fun doing so. I plan on having a great time enjoying the event this weekend on pay-per view and providing the live results coverage. If you want the best in-depth round-by-round results of the show as it's happening live (prelim fights included) – MMANews.com is the place to be, as always. On the way out don't forget to check out some exclusive MMANews.com pre-UFC 73 interviews conducted by our own Chris Howie.