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UFC 73 preview

Ortiz vs. Evans highlights an action-packed card

Posted: Friday July 6, 2007 11:42AM; Updated: Friday July 6, 2007 4:52PM

The Ultimate Fighting Championship features one of its deepest cards in years on Saturday night in Sacramento. The aptly titled "Stacked" features two title fights, an important fight for one of the promotion's marquee attractions and the debut of one of the greatest MMA fighters of all time. Here is a look at what to expect at UFC 73.

Tito Ortiz vs. Rashad Evans

Rashad Evans is a capable grappler, but Tito Ortiz (above) 
has more experience in big fights and should pull out a close victory.
Rashad Evans is a capable grappler, but Tito Ortiz (above) has more experience in big fights and should pull out a close victory.
AP
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Make no mistake -- this is the main event of the night. UFC likes to promote its championships and give them higher billing, but Ortiz is the top drawing card on this show. He was also the UFC's most valuable commodity in 2006, when he broke the company's previous buy-rate record for each of his three fights.

Evans first became known on The Ultimate Fighter, where he was branded a boring decision fighter by some. Since then, Evans has improved his ground-and-pound proficiency and added standup. He looks dangerous in the light heavyweight division and a potential title challenger.

On paper, this is a tough style match for Ortiz. Evans is a better-credentialed wrestler and has shown better standup than Ortiz. However, Ortiz has much more experience in high-profile fights and tremendous confidence in himself. If it comes down to a test of wills, Ortiz likely has the advantage. But this is a very tough fight to call.

The Pick: Ortiz

Nate Marquardt vs. Anderson Silva

The UFC careers of Marquardt and Silva started similarly. Both came from Japan and debuted in the main event of an Ultimate Fight Night show. From there their paths diverged.

Silva scored a spectacular, quick knockout over Chris Leben, while Marquardt earned a judges' decision over Ivan Salaverry in a fight so dull that UFC edited it off future broadcasts of the card. Silva's debut earned him an immediate title shot with Rich Franklin, a fight Silva would win. Marquardt was relegated to preliminary fights, but three wins later he earned a title shot.

This fight will be a challenge for Silva. His standup is world class, but he has a weakness in takedown defense. Marquardt is a solid wrestler with good submission skills on the ground. Look for him to frustrate Silva and grind out a TKO victory in round four or five.

The Pick: Marquardt

Hermes Franca vs. Sean Sherk

Franca carries an impressive eight-fight win streak into Saturday's title shot against Sherk. Franca is a dangerous fighter with a solid standup game and great submissions, but this is a bad matchup for him. Sherk is a thick, compact wrestler who has never been submitted in his eight-year career. That puts Franca in a tough position, given that it will be hard to win a decision working most of the fight from his back.

The Pick: Sherk

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