Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (29-4-1) will make his UFC debut against Heath Herring (27-12) at UFC 73: "Stacked" on July 7 at the Arco Arena in Sacramento, California, according to UFC.com.
Rumors swirled for the last month that the Brazilian stand-out would face either Brandon Vera or Justin McCully. Now it appears he will face off against a man he has already defeated twice in PRIDE FC.
That's right, "Minotauro" outpointed the "Texas Crazy Horse" on the judges scorecards during their first meeting for the vacant heavyweight title at PRIDE 17: Championship Chaos in 2001, and then submitted him via anaconda choke three years later at PRIDE: Critical Countdown 2004.
Herring is coming off of his first win inside the Octagon at UFC 69 last month, out-slugging Brad Imes en route to a unanimous decision win. He dropped a horrible-looking unanimous decision in his UFC debut to Jake O'Brien.
For the record, I'm not a big fan of the corny monikers the UFC attaches to its events. This time, however, "stacked" seems rather appropriate.
In addition to the Nogueira-Herring bout, UFC 73 will feature two championship fights. Anderson Silva will put his middleweight crown on the line against Nathan Marquardt, and Sean Sherk will make his long-awaited first title defense against Hermes Franca.
And of course, Tito Ortiz and Rashad Evans will also tangle in a light heavyweight showdown.
Here's a snip from UFC President Dana White:
"We have five UFC events lined up now through July in the US and UK, and every one of them is stacked with great fights.... UFC 73 is one of the best cards we've put together this year. It's going to deliver the one-two punch fight fans want – it has Tito Ortiz and Rashad Evans, two all-state college wrestlers, both who dislike each other, settling their differences in the Octagon, as well as title defenses by our two champions Anderson Silva and Sean Sherk. We're working on more fights right now to pack this card even heavier from top to bottom."