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This Weekend in Sports: Summer Olympics, UFC and the Hall of Fame Game

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Ian Walton, Richard Wolowicz, Otto Greule Jr. / Getty Images

The track & field events of the 2012 Summer Olympics begin this weekend, while the NFL preseason gets started in Canton. Here’s what else to watch this weekend in sports:

Friday, August 3

Summer Olympics — Beach Volleyball, Swimming and Men’s Shot Put

Olympic Stadium; London, England; 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. / 8 p.m.-Midnight (ET); NBC-TV

The London Games’ first week ends with a full Friday of competition. Live broadcasts during the morning session will include the women’s 10,000-meter final on the track at Olympic Stadium, the beach volleyball elimination round and the US vs. China in women’s water polo.

All prime-time events will be aired on a delay starting at 8 p.m. Friday night. In addition to the women’s volleyball match between the US and Serbia, gold medals will be awarded in the men’s 100-meter butterfly, men’s 50-meter freestyle, women’s 200-meter backstroke and women’s 800-meter freestyle. The men’s shot put gold medal will also be awarded on Friday.

Saturday, August 4

Summer Olympics — Women’s Tennis, Swimming and Women’s 100-meters

Olympic Stadium; London, England; 9 a.m.- 6 p.m. / 8 p.m. – Midnight (ET); NBC-TV

The women’s tennis gold medal match will be broadcast live from London on Saturday morning. American Serena Williams and Russian Maria Sharapova are potential finalists. Other live events include the men’s 10,000-meter race, beach volleyball and the US vs. Russia in men’s volleyball.

Swimming, including the men’s and women’s 4×100-meter medley relays, will dominate the pre-recorded, prime-time coverage on Saturday night. Women’s 100-meter sprint, the women’s heptathlon and the men’s long jump are also airing on delay.

UFC on Fox — Mauricio Rua vs. Brandon Vera

Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA; 8 p.m. (ET); FOX-TV

The Ultimate Fighting Championships return to Fox on Saturday with Maurício ‘Shogun’ Rua facing Brandon Vera in the main event. Rua is proficient in both Muay Thai and Jiu-Jitsu. His skill and strength could prove insurmountable for Vera. Aspiring light heavyweight contenders Lyoto Machida and Ryan Bader will square off in the best fight of the undercard.

Sunday, August 5

Summer Olympics — Men’s Tennis, Men’s 100 meters and Gymnastics

Olympic Stadium; London, England; 9 a.m.- 6 p.m. / 7 p.m. – Midnight (ET); NBC-TV

The men’s tennis final will be broadcast live from London on Sunday morning. If Britain’s Andy Murray can get past Novak Djokovic of Serbia in the semifinals, fans could see a Wimbledon rematch of Murray and Roger Federer for the gold medal. The US vs. China in women’s basketball, women’s water polo quarterfinals and equestrian events round out the Sunday morning coverage.

Some of the most anticipated events are slated for delayed broadcast on Sunday night. Sprinter Usain Bolt of Jamaica will attempt to win his second consecutive gold medal in the men’s 100-meters, meanwhile the women’s 400-meters and triple jump gold medals will also be awarded. Men’s and women’s individual gold medals will be awarded at the gymnastics venue.

Pennsylvania 400

Pocono Raceway, Long Pond, PA; 1:19 p.m. (ET); ESPN-TV

After winning last week’s Brickyard 400, Jimmie Johnson is on a hot streak. With 15 top 10 finishes in 2012, Johnson is fourth in the Sprint Cup standing, just 27 points behind leader Dale Earnhardt Jr. Both Johnson and Earnhardt should be among the top 10 at Pocono this week, with Denny Hamlin, Tony Stewart and Kyle Busch also factoring into the finish.

Arizona Cardinals vs. New Orleans Saints

Fawcett Stadium, Canton, OH; 8 p.m. (ET); NFL Network-TV

The NFL preseason kicks-off with the annual Pro Football Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio. Though their coaching staff and defense have been decimated by the penalties levied on the team by the league as a result of the ‘Bounty Gate’ investigation, the New Orleans Saints’ offense figures to be just as potent as it was in 2011, when it led the NFL in yards per game and finished second in points. Having signed a record-setting, five-year, $100 million contract in the off-season, Saints quarterback Drew Brees doesn’t figure to play much in this preseason opener. The Arizona Cardinals have a very stingy defense led by cornerback Patrick Peterson. They’ll enjoy having at least one series against Brees and company.

Milwaukee Brewers at St. Louis Cardinals

Busch Stadium, St. Louis, MO; 8:05 p.m. (ET); ESPN-TV

The franchises that dueled in last season’s memorable National League Championship Series wrap up a three-game series at Busch Stadium on ESPN’s ‘Sunday Night Baseball’ game. Still very much in playoff contention, the St. Louis Cardinals (56-48) will send Kyle Lohse (11-2, 2.91) to the mound against Marco Estrada (0-4, 4.34) of Milwaukee (48-56). After dealing ace Zack Greinke to the Angels last week, the Brewers have surrendered their 2012 postseason hopes.

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