Screens from ESPN’s recap of UFC 73
In order to remain a champion, one has to beat the best the opposition has to offer. Both Anderson Silva and Sean Sherk did just that on Saturday night, winning their fights in convincing fashion. With their respective roads now temporarily cleared, both fighters seem like they may stay on top for quite a while: a trend that we haven’t seen recently, at least in this upset-filled year.
UFC 73 turned out to certainly be ‘Stacked’ with action-packed fights from beginning to end. While the show’s production moved a bit faster than usual because of time constraints, each fight on the card equaled the pace. The majority of those in attendance at the ARCO Arena in Sacramento, California might not have agreed according to their unusual reactions throughout the night, but the event definitely lived up to the hype.
Anderson Silva successfully defended his UFC Middleweight Title with a first round TKO victory over Nate Marquardt. The fight was back and forth until Silva (19-4) connected with a straight left hand that dropped Marquardt (25-7-2) to the mat. Silva then got on top of Marquardt and rained down unanswered right hands until referee John McCarthy stepped in to halt the bout.
Marquardt stayed down on the mat for a few moments afterwards, obviously shaken up. Silva thanked all of his trainers and coaches during a post-fight interview with Joe Rogan. He also continued his growing love affair with American fans with praise and thanks as well.
“I love fighting for these fans,” Silva said. “I enjoy fighting in front of these fans fight after fight. They are always gracious.” Silva will now most likely go on to rematch former champion Rich Franklin this fall.
Sean Sherk won yet another five round unanimous decision and was able to keep his UFC Lightweight Title after defeating top contender Hermes Franca. Sherk (32-2-1) was able to control Franca (18-6) throughout the course of the fight, pressing the action and not letting Franca get up from the ground.
Franca landed multiple big knees to the chin of Sherk but was unable to generate any more offense than that. After the fight, Sherk stated that he was very impressed with Franca’s skills on the ground and his defense as well.
“Hermes was great on the ground. Definitely an awesome Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu guy.” said Sherk. “He did a good job of keeping his face from getting hit and kept me close the entire fight.”
The bad blood between Tito Ortiz and Rashad Evans may have to continue for the time being after the two fought to a draw on all three of the judge’s scorecards.
Ortiz (15-5-1) dominated the first two rounds with potent striking and control up against the fence but had a point deducting during the middle of the second round for continually grabbing the fence. Ortiz then locked in a tight guillotine choke during the closing seconds of the second stanza but Evans (10-0-1) was able to hold on until the horn sounded. Evans scored two important takedowns in the final round to be able to salvage a draw.
The draw was the first in the UFC since BJ Penn and Caol Uno fought to a stalemate at UFC 41 in February 2003.
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira was victorious in his UFC debut, garnering his third career victory over Heath Herring in a fight that Herring nearly won in the first round. Herring (27-13-0-1) rocked Nogueira (30-4-1-1) with a left high kick during the closing moments of the first round that left Nogueira dazed on the mat.
Instead of pouncing and finishing the fight, Herring let Nogueira regain his composure and get back up to his feet. Nogueira then went on control the rest of the fight and win an unanimous decision.
Kenny Florian forced Alvin Robinson to tap out from a flurry of strikes in the first round of their fight. Florian (6-3) was able to take Robinson (8-2) down multiple times and easily switched positions on the mat. Florian started a ground and pound assault towards the end of the ground that forced Robinson to tap when he couldn’t stop the strikes from coming.
Florian was able to get in one last shot that knocked Robinson’s mouthpiece out just before referee Yves Lavinge could wave Florian off.
Stephan Bonnar (10-4) returned to his winning ways, submitting Mike Nickels (5-2) with a rear naked choke in the first round of Bonnar’s first fight since testing positive for steroids last August.
Chris Lytle (23-14-5) grabbed a much-needed win over late replacement Jason Gilliam (9-2) in his fight. Lytle submitted Gilliam with an unseen inverted triangle choke mixed with an armbar in the middle of the first round.
Jorge Gurgel (11-2) earned an unanimous decision over fellow ground expert Diego Saraiva (9-5-1). Gurgel was able to win all three rounds in the judge’s eyes, who all scored the bout 30-27.
The first fight of the night saw Frankie Edgar (7-0) win his second straight fight in the UFC with a first round TKO victory over newcomer Mark Bocek (4-1).