by Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com
The official announcement was made this weekend that UFC 64 will be headlined by a Middleweight Title match between Rich Franklin and Anderson Silva, as well as a Lightweight Title fight between Sean Sherk and Kenny Florian.
Though both fights have been listed in MMAWeekly’s Rumors section for over a month, it is now official that the fights will co-headline UFC 64 on October 14th in Las Vegas.
UFC Middleweight Champion Rich “Ace” Franklin will finally return to action after suffering numerous injuries in his last title defense when he squares off against Brazilian heavy hitter Anderson “The Spider” Silva. Franklin has been recovering from several injuries, including a severely broken hand, that were sustained during his five-round unanimous decision win over David Loiseau at UFC 58 in March.
Franklin’s opponent, Anderson Silva, will be making his second trip into the Octagon, and this time it will be with UFC gold on the line. Silva is a very accomplished fighter who competed for the majority of his career in Japan, England, and Brazil before making his UFC debut by decimated Chris Leben in only 49 seconds back in June. Silva is probably the most dangerous striker in the 185-pound weight class, and while many U.S. fans may still be unfamiliar with his accomplishments, a title shot in only his second fight in the UFC is more than deserved when looking at his overall record.
Franklin has never backed down from a challenge, and taking on an opponent the caliber of Silva only proves his determination to take on the best in the world. Franklin will be making his third title defense when he faces Anderson Silva in October.
Also announced was the fight that will re-introduce the Lightweight Title to the UFC. The title has not been defended in the UFC since Jens Pulver defeated BJ Penn in the main event of UFC 35 in January 2002. Pulver’s contract with the UFC expired with that fight, and Pulver left the UFC due to a financial dispute (Pulver’s salary for the Penn fight was $11,000 to fight and an additional $11,000 to win).
Over four years later, the Lightweight Title is back, as former welterweight contender Sean Sherk will make his UFC lightweight debut when he takes on the always dangerous Kenny Florian, who is well known for his appearance on the first season of The Ultimate Fighter. Sherk has taken on the best in the world at welterweight, but this will be his first test at 155 pounds, so it will be interesting to see if the weight cutting will affect the powerful wrestler in his title shot.
Kenny Florian has come a long way since his appearance on The Ultimate Fighter, where he competed at 185 pounds– well outside of his normal weight range– because he could not pass up the opportunity to be on the show. Florian made it to the finals before losing to Diego Sanchez on the live finale show.
After the Sanchez fight, Florian dropped to 170 pounds and won both of his fights in that weight class before the UFC decided to bring back the lightweight division. In his first fight at 155 pounds in the UFC, Florian defeated highly regarded Canadian fighter Sam Stout by submission with a rear naked choke in the first round. This will be Florian’s shot at a championship since turning pro some years ago.
Both bouts will headline UFC 64, and more fights for the October 14th card are expected to be announced in the coming weeks.
In the meantime, UFC 63 will take place on September 23rd and will be headlined by Matt Hughes vs. BJ Penn.