by Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com
Being touted as the most dangerous striker in the UFC can be a tough reputation to live up to, but Anderson Silva has earned that moniker and now has the UFC Middleweight Title to wrap around his waist after knocking out reigning champion Rich Franklin in just under four minutes.
In front of an announced attendance of 10,773, in only his second UFC fight, Silva came out and established himself early, never letting Franklin put any combinations together, while feeling out the distance, seemingly biding his time waiting to strike.
Silva eventually closed the gap and engaged Franklin with his famous Muay Thai clinch, which seemed to stop the Ohio native dead in his tracks. After throwing multiple knees to Franklin’s midsection, Silva started to rear back and aim for the head instead. It was Silva’s grip and power in the clinch that found a heavy knee strike that landed squarely on Franklin’s jaw, which sent him reeling. Another well-placed knee from the clinch landed brutally on Franklin’s nose and appeared to have broken it. A few punches and another knee sent Franklin crumbling down to the canvas, and referee Big John McCarthy stepped in before too much damage could be inflicted. With that, Anderson Silva became the UFC Middleweight Champion.
In two bouts and just under five minutes in the UFC, Anderson Silva has established himself as one of the best fighters in the world at 185 pounds and quite possibly the best striker the UFC has ever seen. Having always been a top notch fighter, this win for Silva comes as no real surprise to followers of the sport who have seen him perform in other shows across the world. Now, Anderson Silva will look to make his first title defense as the new 185lb champion while Rich Franklin recovers from only his 2nd loss in almost 25 professional fights.
On the same night that Anderson Silva became the new Middleweight Champion, the UFC was guaranteed to finally re-crown a Lightweight Champion for the first time in almost 5 years when Sean Sherk took on Kenny Florian on Saturday night. Both fighters felt confident coming into the bout, but Sherk was a heavy favorite on paper with more experience and his only pro losses coming at the hands of the two best welterweight fighters in the world (Matt Hughes and Georges St. Pierre).
As the fight began is was obvious that Sherk wanted to keep it on the ground as he almost immediately shot in for a takedown, putting Florian on his back. Sherk worked from inside Florian’s guard effectively, never allowing the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt to attempt any serious submission but also lacked hitting his opponent with any real offensive firepower. The 2nd round saw much of the same but Florian did manage some elbow strikes on the ground, one of which opened a huge cut on Sherk’s forehead that almost immediately started to pour blood onto the canvas and his opponent. The fight was stopped momentarily but with the gash being on the upper forehead and being no real danger to Sherk’s vision the fight continued.
Basically the remainder of the final 3 rounds went almost exactly the same with Sherk taking Florian down but never really establishing any dominant ground and pound but also keeping full control of the action. When the fight was stood up, Florian did land some nice kicks to Sherk’s midsection but inevitably the fight always ended up back on the ground. While Sherk’s dominance in the fight can’t be overlooked, the referee’s decision to only stand the fighters up a handful of times over the course of 5 rounds is more than baffling. The lulls in the bout seemed plentiful and it seems like the action should have been restarted multiple times but rarely was. When it was all said and done, the unanimous decision went to Sean Sherk, thus crowning him the new UFC Lightweight Champion.
Jon Fitch kept up his winning ways with a unanimous decision win over the debuting Kuniyoshi Hironaka in a 3 round bout. Fitch did struggle against Hironaka for much of the first round and was in a triangle choke from which he struggled to escape. While Hironaka kept up the pace for much of the fight, it was Fitch who eventually countered and then started to unload shots while working his ground game. The second and third rounds were also a mix of takedowns and ground and pound from Fitch, and in the end the judges all scored the bout in his favor.
Carmelo Marrero made a successful UFC debut by defeating Cheick Kongo by split decision in their bout. Marrero kept to a very smart game plan, which must have involved keeping Kongo on the ground, as he couldn’t do any real damage while striking. Marrero controlled the ground work for most of the fight and every time the two were stood up he easily took his opponent back down again. After three rounds, Marrero was declared the winner in a largely uninteresting fight.
The main card of UFC 64 opened with lightweight sensation Spencer Fisher taking on Dan Lauzon, the younger brother of Joe Lauzon, who just last month knocked out Fisher’s teammate, Jens Pulver in his comeback to the Octagon. Lauzon looked very solid in the opening minutes, taking the fight to the ground and striking Fisher at every opportunity. When the fight did make its way back to the stand-up position, it was clear that Lauzon had gassed trying to get to Fisher early and this gave way to the Miletich team member landing a good knee strike, followed by punches that floored Lauzon and handed Fisher a TKO win in the first round.
UFC 64 was a disappointment in some ways, with three of the five main card fights going to decisions. Sherk and Florian would almost have to meet again at some point down the road after questionable decision making by the referee, who almost never stood the fight up during the down moments when the action was lacking on the ground. Spencer Fisher continued to look impressive and may be one of the fighters on the short list to get the first shot at Sherk’s newly won title. The fighter of the night was definitely Anderson Silva, who absolutely dominated and decimated the #1 middleweight in the world and now takes the UFC Middleweight Title back to Brazil, where he will await his first title defense as champion.
Full Results (including prelims)
-Anderson Silva def. Rich Franklin by TKO (referee stoppage due to strikes) at 3:59 of Round 1 to win the UFC Middleweight Title
-Sean Sherk def. Kenny Florian by unanimous decision to win the vacant UFC Lightweight Title
-Jon Fitch def. Kuniyoshi Hironaka by unanimous decision
-Carmelo Marrero def. Cheick Kongo by split decision
-Spencer Fisher def. Dan Lauzon by TKO (referee stoppage due to strikes) at 4:38 of Round 1
-Clay Guida def. Justin James by submission (rear naked choke) at 4:42 of Round 2
-Yushin Okami def. Kalib Starnes by TKO (referee stoppage due to strikes) at 1:40 of Round 3
-Kurt Pellegrino def. Junior Assuncao by submission (rear naked choke) at 2:04 of Round 1