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Steve Cofield

UFC putting its star power to the test with busy late 2009 schedule

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With reports coming out that there could be as many as seven and possibly eight UFC fight cards in the final 19 weeks of 2009, matchmaker Joe Silva has his work cut out for him. Here is what's shaping up:

8/29 - UFC 102 (Portland)
Main event: Randy Couture v. Antonio Nogueira
9/16 - UFN 19 (Oklahoma City)
Main event: TBA
9/19 - UFC 103 (Dallas)
Rumored main event: Cain Velasquez v. Shane Carwin; Matt Hughes v. Mike Swick
10/24 - UFC 104 (Los Angeles)
Main event: Lyoto Machida v. Mauricio Rua
11/14 - UFC 105 (Manchester, England)
Main event: TBA
11/21 - UFC 106 (Las Vegas)
Main event: TBA
12/5 - TUF 10 Finale (Las Vegas)
Main event: TBA
12/19 - UFC 107 (Las Vegas)
Main event: Quinton Jackson v. Rashad Evans

Who will fight in all these main events? Where does Anderson Silva fight after his battle against. With Vitor Belfort on board after Affliction: Trilogy, maybe Belfort v. Silva will be slated UFC 106, 107 or 108. That's unless Michael Bisping pulls the upset on Dan Henderson at UFC 100. Then Silva v. Bisping has to be in Manchester.

The winners of Georges St. Pierre versus Thiago Alves, Brock Lesnar versus Frank Mir and B.J. Penn versus Kenny Florian should all be ready to go, barring any serious injury, to close out 2009 as well.

Inside Fights is also reporting rumors of Chuck Liddell returning later this year to fight Rich Franklin. Cagewriter first heard rumors of a Liddell return at the Manny Pacquiao-Ricky Hatton fight back in early May. An announcement was rumored to come around late June. Here we are and still no word. It makes sense, there aren't too many big name candidates who can step up anytime soon to face Franklin. So don't bury Liddell's career just yet.

Those months should also be interesting on the free agent market as well. If Affliction shuts things down after the August 1 show and doesn't merge rosters with Strikeforce, where will fighters like Fedor Emelianenko and Josh Barnett land?

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