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Length: 181 mins
None too bashful it might have been, but the name bestowed upon the UFC’s 7th July 2007 card from Sacramento’s Arco Arena was certainly reflected in the line-up on paper. As far as the five-fight main card was concerned, I’d imagine Kenny Florian and Alvin Robinson felt akin to pro-nudists at the Clothes Show amongst all the colossal star power.
- Middleweight championship Match:
Anderson Silva vs. Nathan Marquardt
- Rashad Evans vs. Tito Ortiz
- Alvin Robinson vs. Kenny Florian
- Lightweight Championship Match:
Sean Sherk vs. Hermes Franca
- Heath Herring vs. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira
- Mike Nickels vs. Stephan Bonnar
- Diego Saraiva vs. Jorge Gurgel
- Chris Lytle vs. Jason Gilliam
- Mark Bocek vs. Frankie Edgar
The preliminary fights positively fly, with the exception of a laborious decision for Jorge Gurgel over Diego Saraiva. The Frankie Edgar express train to stardom continued unabashed by virtue of a first round stoppage of debutant Mark Bocek, whilst the gong for individual performance went to the versatile and underrated Chris Lytle, who quickly took Jason Gilliam to the mat and slapped on an Americana for victory. Post-suspension Stephan Bonnar was swift to throw his name back in the “B” pool at 205lbs, concluding an all-action three minutes opposite Mike Nickels with a Rear Naked Choke.
By the conclusion of the first five minutes of Minatauro Nogueira’s Octagon bow, Dana White and hangers on were surely mulling over the banning of the word “PRIDE” on their broadcasts: with Cro Cop having already come a cropper, the next fighter they’d hyped to high heaven on the back of exploits east really should have been finished off in the first round by Heath Herring. Big Nog was comfortably in control of the stand-up, and scored with a neat combo against the fence with around four minutes elapsed- the “Texas Crazy Horse” pushed away from the mesh and landed a heavy right kick which dropped the Brazilian submission king, following up with some uncertain shots on the ground, then inexplicably stalling and allowing Nogueira time to recompose. Similarly, Herring failed to come out of the blocks at the onset of the second, giving a weary Nogueira a further window to get his game face back on and start pushing the pace again, prompting Herring into attempting a high kick, from which he was taken down into side mount, from which Herring was able to roll- his only affirmative action of the round. Going into the third, and Herring was clearly in lesser shape as a result of taking a slew of shots from mount, and controlled the final period on the mat to take a unanimous decision in a fight that really shouldn’t have gotten to that point. “Texas Crazy Horse” indeed: Heath Herring must’ve really been kicking himself the next day.
The pre-fight video package for Sean Sherk’s inaugural Lightweight Championship defence was something of a tickler: Hermes Franca is surely the toughest living creature I’ve ever momentarily wanted to adopt – watching and listening to the diminutive Brazilian excitedly waxing about going for “submeee-shuns” in broken English is a small serving of chicken soup for the soul. Sherk, meanwhile, declared “I only know one speed, and that’s 110%.” Um….. okay Sean- don’t profess to know about phrasing in context, per chance? But I digress…
…this fight would be rendered irrelevant afterwards, as both men failed the post-event drug test and were subsequently fined and banned. Franca held his hands up, while Sherk protests his innocence to this day. Following this emphatic five round shutout that saw the horribly monikered “Muscle Shark” retain the 155lb strap, many people rushed-unfairly in my view- to compare him to a smaller version of Tim Sylvia. No safe tactics here, folks: this was a twenty five minute clinic from the champion. No need for individual round synopsis’, as each spell panned out in identikit fashion. Save for the very first minute of the fight, where Franca landed an immediate high knee, and countered the reactive slam into guard with a front guillotine, which only Sherk’s opaque neck saw him wrench free of. From there on in, the American routinely took the challenger to the mat at will, exerting his authority with shots from guard, half guard and mount- a thoroughly technically dominant display from Sherk, and a shame such a performance was rendered null and void in the scheme of things.
If the sheer duration of that last fight equated to it being draining, Kenny Florian served up some rapid fire respite by hiptossing Alvin Robinson to ground, passing into full mount and delivering the excellent visual of sending Robinson’s mouthpiece airborn with the fight-ending barrage. Behind Sherk and BJ Penn, “KenFlo” is surely the set-in-stone #3 at 155lbs, at least while the likes of Edgar, Huerta and Tyson Griffin are still building their growing reputations.
I’m going to stick a huge wedge of money on Rashad Evans becoming UFC Light Heavyweight Champion at some point in the next two years- the man has a guardian angel on his shoulder who dictates that he absolutely cannot lose a fight. For two round, “Sugar” (who in the name of Satan’s portion came up with that clunky moniker?) struggled to crank into gear in his toughest test to date against Tito Ortiz, built up as it was by some pre-arranged looking shenanigans at cageside during a previous event. The opening period was tentative and pedestrian, with the veteran getting the nod on account of his comparative purposefulness. The first half of round two continued in similar fashion, until the penny seemingly dropped with Evans that he was in a fight, and he elected to employ his superior wrestling credentials to retort a pair of takedowns, with the key point in the fight arriving as Ortiz grabbed the mesh to avoid being slammed, at the price of a point penalty in a round that he once again otherwise shaded. The finale slowed right down to crawling pace, with the trailing Rashad vitally sprawling to fend off a potentially fight-clinching shoot from Ortiz, and garnering crucial points with a big slam to the mat from the resultant clinch. The point deduction ultimately salvaged Evans’ unbeaten record as the judges rendered a draw verdict for a desperately disappointing fight. Given Ortiz’s reported status with the organisation, the prospects of a rematch are not good…
…and all that was left was the latest instalment of the Anderson Silva show. Former King of Pancrase and unbeaten in the cage Nate Marquardt was challenger on this night, and a challenger of Karo Parysian (who was scheduled to fight Matt Hughes at 170lbs in 2006) proportions he was, as despite his undoubted capability, Nate “The Great” really carried little name-value into this fight as far as the casual fan was concerned, as in the wake of his Spike TV snoozefest of a debut opposite Ivan Salaverry, all of his fights bar that with the year plus old Joe Doerksen scrap had been banished to the preliminaries. Nonetheless, it was business as usual from the class chief “Spider”, attempting an array of match ending tactics right from the opening gun, following up a jumping knee with a guillotine, and a subsequent arm triangle from the bottom. A single leg takedown from Marquardt- the only offensive manoeuvre of note that he managed to get in- saw him swept onto the bottom, from whence Silva unloaded with punches and elbows from guard prompting John McCarthy to step in.
My memories of watching this event live were ones of bitter disappointment, but with those sentiments out of the way, second viewing was much kinder to “Stacked”. Yet with the distinct lack of a truly competitive contest amongst the nine on display, an under whelming UFC debut from Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and the stagnant supposed grudge match between Ortiz and Evans, it’s hard not to feel upon the conclusion of UFC 73 that all these talented people have short-changed you.
Points: 6 / 10