UFC 73: Silva, Sherk Retain Titles

By Josh Gross Jul 8, 2007
SACRAMENTO, Calif., July 7 -- Anderson Silva and Sean Sherk (Pictures) retained their respective UFC middleweight and lightweight titles Saturday in completely opposite yet brutally efficient styles.

In the main event of UFC 73 "Stacked," which the UFC touted as possibly the "best card in the history of combat sports," Silva again showed how quickly he can end a fight by stopping Nathan Marquardt (Pictures) in front of an announced crowd of 14,370 inside the ARCO Arena.

The 32-year-old Brazilian southpaw, now 19-4-0, gave his challenger an early opening by launching a risky aerial attack. Nate "The Great" defended by corralling one of Silva's long, slender legs and putting the champion down on the canvas, where he worked punches to the body.

Silva stayed active, threatening with arm-triangles and a high guard before referee John McCarthy saw fit to put the middleweights back in the standing position with 90 seconds remaining in the first frame of the five-round title clash.

Taking a momentary respite from circling away from the Brazilian's power, Marquardt, who could have joined Bas Rutten (Pictures), Frank Shamrock (Pictures) and Josh Barnett (Pictures) as the only men to own King of Pancrase and UFC titles, ate a left hand lead to the face that forced him backwards.

Standing above the 28-year-old Marquardt (25-7-2) for the first time in the fight, Silva landed the first in a series of undefended strikes that caused his challenger to turn away as the period moved into its final seconds.

McCarthy paid close attention during the sequence before finally moving in to save the dazed fighter from Denver at the 4:50 mark.

With the win, Silva will likely take a trip to Cincinnati, Ohio and face the man he took the belt from last October, Rich Franklin (Pictures).

The first-round victory marked Silva's sixth quick win in his last seven bouts (including three of four in the octagon), a marked departure from Sherk's effort against No. 1 lightweight designee Hermes Franca (Pictures).

While Silva has earned a reputation as the UFC's most dangerous champion, Sherk, 33, solidified his status as the organization's most dominant with a unanimous decision victory that saw judges Richard Bertrand and Nelson "Doc" Hamilton score every round in favor of the "Muscle Shark," while Cecil Peoples had it 49-46.

The powerhouse 155-pounder from Minneapolis, Minn. absorbed several hard blows from Franca, but the majority of the 25-minute clash saw Sherk stay tight as he physically overwhelmed the Brazilian, who now lives in Jupiter, Fla.

"I wanted to finish him," said Sherk, who used an array of takedowns to thoroughly control position. "My goal was to come out here, run him out of gas, wait for him to make a mistake. Hermes Franca (Pictures) is an excellent Brazilian jiu-jitsu fighter, man. He didn't really give me a whole lot of openings. He covered his face real well and he can take a hit, you know. He's been finished once in 25 fights. It's not an easy task by any means to finish this guy off."

While the champion cruised to victory, he was close to losing before the final bell. In the opening 30 seconds Franca locked in a tight guillotine choke that Sherk struggled mightily to escape. He did, and passed Franca's guard in the process, a theme that repeated many times throughout the bout.

"'Oh Hermes, I almost tapped for a second,' Franca said Sherk told him after the bout. "It was close. It was really tight."

Including the first, Franca hurt Sherk three times to start rounds, though never with the overhand right that was so instrumental in the Brazilian's eight-fight win streak he enjoyed coming into the fight.

The second and fourth frames saw the good-natured Franca land brutal knees to the chin when Sherk shot for a takedown, yet the champion's unbelievable conditioning helped him survive and flourish once the fight hit the canvas.

"He knows how to stop submissions," said Franca, whose record fell to 18-6-0. "He knows how to ground-and-pound."

The only round Sherk could have lost on judge Cecil Peoples' card was the second, when he was hurt by a Franca knee. Outside of that, the champion refused to give Franca, 32, any space to work.

The lightweight champ owned the third, picking up the pace and finding his rhythm as Franca appeared to fatigue. And in the fifth, Sherk's punches finally caused a trickle of blood to drip from the challenger's nose.

"My career has been a roller coaster ride. Lots of highs, lot of lows," said Sherk (32-2-1), whom the UFC announced would defend his belt against B.J. Penn (Pictures) in November.

"Winning this title is something I never thought I'd actually do, because I did walk away from the sport for a year, came back, was presented a lot of great opportunities with the UFC," he continued. "Now I got the world title. So I'm going hang on to this thing and train like a maniac and keep it for as long as I can."

Training like a maniac is something Tito Ortiz (Pictures) has done throughout his successful UFC career, and tonight the former organizational light heavyweight champion let a rookie mistake cost him against the relatively inexperienced Rashad Evans (Pictures), turning what would have been a 29-28 unanimous decision into the first draw of the brash Californian's career.

Ortiz, 32, opened the bout by forcing The Ultimate Fighter 2 winner to the canvas with a double-leg takedown. Yet Ortiz was unable to capitalize by putting Evans, a former Michigan State Spartan wrestler, back first on the canvas.

Instead, the Greg Jackson-trained light heavyweight, whom many favored coming into the bout, returned to his feet and tried to assert himself against his much larger opponent.

The fighters battled for control in the clinch, and rarely exchanged on the feet during the first five minutes. Ortiz was on his was to taking a dominant 20-18 lead into the third period when referee John McCarthy deducted a point after the "Huntington Beach Bad Boy" overtly grabbed the cage fencing.

"He had my hand and my legs locked," said Ortiz, now 15-5-1. "I was on instinct; it was just a grab. … You know, they always say If you ain't cheating, you're not trying."

Evans turned it on the third against a slowing Ortiz. In the last two minutes, Evans put a punctuation mark on the round by scoring a big double-leg takedown.

"I definitely would have finished that fight," said the 27-year-old Evans, now 10-0-1. "I felt him break. I felt him break. It took a while, but I felt him break inside, and he just laid down there and just let me keep hitting him."

It appears Evans will have a second chance of finishing Ortiz, as it was announced at the post-fight press conference that the two would get an immediate rematch.

Outside of one kick, former PRIDE heavyweight champion Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (Pictures) had a relatively easy time with Texan Heath Herring (Pictures).

Nogueira, 31, jabbed his way through much of the first, landing at will and scoring takedowns any time the two locked up. With time winding down in the first, Herring lifted his left leg and planted it on the Brazilian's usually stout chin.

"I've never been hit like that, you know in a fight," said Nogueira (30-4-1, 1 NC), quite the compliment to Herring considering the Brazilian's résumé against the likes of Fedor Emelianenko (Pictures) and Mirko Filipovic (Pictures).

"I mean, I show all my heart," he continued.

Herring, 29, failed to follow through as the Brazilian stood on shaky legs for at least a full minute after the start of round two. Soon Nogueira's sea legs disappeared and he was again pumping a stiff jab towards Herring's marked-up face.

As in two their previous contest, which Nogueira won, Herring (27-13-0, 1 NC) scrambled and survived despite giving up bad positions like mount and back-mount. In the final period, Nogueira pushed the pace, but Herring's resilience carried him to the inevitable judges' decision, which went the way of the former PRIDE champ 29-28 (three times).

Lightweight Kenny Florian (Pictures) (6-3-0) overwhelmed Alvin Robinson (Pictures) (8-2-0) with strikes from the mount, forcing "Kid" to submit from punishment at 4:30 of the first period.

In his first bout since serving a nine-month suspension handed down by the Nevada State Athletic Commission following a positive test for boldenone, a banned anabolic agent, Stephan Bonnar (Pictures) (10-4-0) forced a tap from Mike Nickels (5-2-0) with a rear-naked choke at 2:14 of the opening frame.

Jorge Gurgel (Pictures) (11-2-0) outworked Diego Saraiva (Pictures), who dropped to 9-5-1 after all three judges saw the contest 30-27 in Gurgel's favor.

In a battle of Indiana natives, Chris Lytle (Pictures) (23-14-5) was victorious due to a tap from keylock, which the veteran secured while holding an inverted triangle-choke against Jason Gilliam (Pictures) (9-2-0) at 2:15 of the first.

In the evening's opening bout, Frank Edgar (Pictures) (7-0-0) picked up a first-round stoppage over octagon newcomer Mark Bocek (4-1-0) at the 4:55 mark.
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