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UFC 73: Preview and Predictions

In terms of the total amount of mixed-martial arts talent on display, I'm not sure that there's ever been a better lineup than the one we have coming up at UFC 73. Two of UFC's five champions are defending their titles, and those two title fights might not even be the most anticipated fights of the night. Here are the details:

What: UFC 73: Stacked

Who:
The main card includes three fights that could have been the main event at a lot of shows: UFC lightweight champion Sean Sherk vs. Hermes Franca, UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva (pictured) vs. Nate Marquardt and Tito Ortiz vs. Rashad Evans.

When: Saturday, 10 p.m. ET

Where: Arco Arena, Sacramento

How: Pay-per-view, $39.95 (high definition is $49.95), or follow along with the FanHouse live blog.

Predictions after the jump.



UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva vs. Nate Marquardt:
Silva is one of the best strikers in mixed martial arts, has won all three of his fights since joining UFC and has won three of his last four fights with first-round knockouts. Marquardt tends to fight at a more deliberate pace; he's won three of his last four fights by unanimous decision.
Predicted winner: Silva

UFC lightweight champion Sean Sherk vs. Hermes Franca:
This is Sherk's first title defense since winning the lightweight belt in October; he suffered a shoulder injury in that fight. Franca, one of three Brazilians on the main card, has won eight straight fights, all by knockout or submission -- but he hasn't fought anyone as good as Sherk.
Predicted winner: Sherk

Tito Ortiz vs. Rashad Evans:
Ortiz is one of the most popular UFC fighters (his girlfriend, Jenna Jamison), is fairly popular among UFC fans, too) and is trying to recover from a loss to Chuck Liddell at UFC 66. Evans won The Ultimate Fighter 2 and is undefeated in his UFC career.
Predicted winner: Evans

Rodrigo Nogueira vs. Heath Herring:
Nogueira is a former PRIDE heavyweight champion making his UFC debut. Nogueira has beaten some big names in mixed martial arts, including Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic, Dan Henderson and Mark Coleman. He's also beaten Herring twice and should make it a third.
Predicted winner: Nogueira

Kenny Florian vs. Alvin Robinson
:
Florian, a popular fighter since his appearance in the first season of The Ultimate Fighter, lost to Sherk in October but managed to submit Dokonjonosuke Mishima in his first fight back in April. Robinson is a fairly anonymous fighter making his UFC debut. How anonymous? UFC doesn't even have a picture of him on its web site.
Predicted winner: Florian

More information:
Official web site
UFC 73 at Wikipedia
UFC 73 at UFC Mania
UFC 73 at UFC Junkie
Orange County Register preview