UFC is still reeling from the retirement of Randy Couture, its best and most popular fighter. But whoever wins the main event at UFC 77 may be in a position to fill, at least in part, the void created by Couture's departure.
Middleweight champion Anderson Silva may be UFC's most impressive fighter, and his opponent in the main event, Rich Franklin, is a fan favorite. You can bet that the winner of this fight will be heavily promoted as UFC attempts to move beyond the loss of Couture
Here are the details of Saturday's event:
What: UFC 77: Hostile Territory
Who: In addition to the Silva-Franklin main event, other fights on the main card are heavyweights Brandon Vera vs. Tim Sylvia, light heavyweights Eric Schafer vs. Stephan Bonnar and middleweights Kalib Starnes vs. Alan Belcher.
When: Saturday, 10 p.m. ET
Where: U.S. Bank Arena, Cincinnati
How: $39.95 on pay-per-view ($49.95 in HD).
Predictions after the jump.
Anderson Silva vs. Rich Franklin
The crowd will go nuts for Franklin, a Cincinnati native, against the Brazilian Silva. But the first time these two fought, Silva won with a first-round TKO, and I expect the same result this time.
Predicted winner: Silva
Brandon Vera vs. Tim Sylvia
The undefeated Vera is favored to beat Sylvia, who's fighting for the first time since losing his heavyweight title to Couture. But Sylvia has about a 40-pound weight advantage, and I like him to win rather easily.
Predicted winner: Sylvia
Eric Schafer vs. Stephan Bonnar
Schafer is fighting for the first time this year after losing at UFC 66 on New Year's Eve. I think he'll beat Bonnar, who's had a checkered career since first making a name for himself on The Ultimate Fighter.
Predicted winner: Schafer
Kalib Starnes vs. Alan Belcher
Belcher last fought at UFC 71, beating Sean Salmon with a guillotine choke less than a minute into the fight. But Starnes represents a step up that I don't think Belcher is ready for.
Predicted winner: Starnes
Official web site
UFC 77 at Wikipedia
UFC 77 at UFC Mania
UFC 77 at MMA Junkie
Full betting odds