by Ken Pishna – MMAWeekly.com
Anderson Silva, the No. 1 middleweight fighter in the world, put an exclamation point on that fact – yes fact – on Saturday night as the Ultimate Fighting Championship landed in Cincinnati, once again dominating Rich Franklin.
The fight was much more competitive than their first go around, but the result was much the same, with Franklin crumpled to the ground following some devastating knees.
While Franklin was aggressive with his striking throughout the first round, Silva never seemed shaken, more or less appearing to bide his time. In the second stanza, it was all Silva, who dropped Franklin with a right hook before backing him against the fence for the final onslaught of knees.
Silva’s performance underscores his current standing as the most dominant fighter currently in the UFC.
But he was as humble as ever following the fight, something that seems to ingratiate him with American fans, despite his inability to communicate in English.
“Rich Franklin is a great athlete, a great person, a great champion and he deserves everyone’s respect,” said the middleweight champ through his interpreter following the fight.
Franklin returned the respect, imploring his hometown fans not to boo Silva.
“Just about 30 seconds ago, I realized that I was in Cincinnati again. He’s a great warrior and a class act, so please don’t boo him.”
Former heavyweight champion Tim Sylvia, in what was a de facto elimination bout for a title shot, didn’t fight as exciting of a bout as he had intended in pre-fight comments, but he did end up dominating Brandon Vera and scoring a unanimous decision victory.
Sylvia used his size to wear Vera down as the two continually clinched throughout the fight. He got the better of the striking whenever they separated, save for a stunning left hook by Vera as round two opened.
As round three wore on, Sylvia seemed to gain steam as Vera slowed. The former champ opened a cut on top of Vera’s head in the final moments before putting a statement on the win with a flurry leading up to the final bell.
Following the fight, Sylvia gave Vera his due, but then moved on to new business calling out another heavyweight contender.
“There is someone that I want to fight and that’s Cheick Kongo. We really don’t know what’s going on with Randy, so it could possibly be for a number one (contender’s spot).”
Asked if he would now consider moving down to light heavyweight, Vera dispelled any such notion, saying he would remain at heavyweight.
After dropping his UFC debut to Kenny Florian, Alvin Robinson overcame a difficult first round to dominate Jorge Gurgel throughout rounds two and three. The Brazilian continued to look for the armbar, but Robinson stayed calm, keeping himself in position to deliver damage with a relentless ground and pound attack en route to a unanimous decision.
“I’ve seen tape on Jorge and he’s really good with the armbar, so I was prepared for it,” stated Robinson after the fight. “Jorge is a warrior, he came out ready to fight. He put me in some trouble, but I was able to get out and get the win.”
Stephan Bonnar continued his return following a nine-month suspension by dominating round two-action against Eric Schafer. Schafer continually tried to get the fight on the mat, searching for a submission, but Bonnar continually made him pay for grounding the action with a brutal ground and pound attack, earning a TKO stoppage.
In a middleweight bout between two up-and-coming contenders, Alan Belcher put on a Muay Thai clinic on the face of Kalib Starnes. It’s not that Starnes wasn’t dishing out some punishment of his own, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the Marvin Eastman-like gash that Belcher opened over his right eye in the opening round. The referee called a halt to the bout upon the ringside doctor’s recommendation less than two minutes into round two.
“I would prefer to win by knockout,” said Belcher before a disappointed crowd, but the second-straight victory raises his UFC record to 3-2 and moves him another rung up the middleweight ladder.
Yushin Okami returned from a controversial decision loss to Franklin in his last outing to dominate Canadian fighter Jason MacDonald. The fight started off slow, but Okami shifted gears in the second and third rounds, ground and pounding his way to a unanimous decision victory. This win is likely to put Okami near the top of the list for a shot at Silva’s middleweight title.
Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion Demian Maia wasted no time making an impression in his UFC debut. He took Ryan Jensen down immediately and finished him off with a rear naked choke about halfway through the first round.
Josh Burkman bounced back from an earlier loss to Karo Parisyan, if barely, by winning a split decision over Forrest Petz in the second bout of the evening.
Coming into this fight, Burkman really felt like he needed a win, saying, “My back’s against the wall. You lose two in a row in the UFC and you might as well start looking elsewhere.”
Matt Grice and Jason Black kicked the night off in style with a back and forth battle, Grice earning the victory via a split decision, but not before a little extra drama. The original decision was read as a split draw, but after reviewing the scorecards it was determined that Grice had actually won on two of the cards to Black’s one.
UFC 77 FINAL RESULTS
Anderson Silva def. Rich Franklin by TKO (Strikes) at 1:07, R2
Tim Sylvia def. Brandon Vera by Unanimous Decision, R3
Alvin Robinson def. Jorge Gurgel by Unanimous Decision, R3
Stephan Bonnar def. Eric Schafer by TKO (Strikes) at 2:47, R2
Alan Belcher def. Kalib Starnes by TKO (Doctor Stoppage) at 1:39, R2
Yushin Okami def. Jason MacDonald by Unanimous Decision, R3
Demian Maia def. Ryan Jensen by Submission (Rear Naked Choke) at 2:40, R1
Josh Burkman def. Forrest Petz by Split Decision, R3
Matt Grice def. Jason Black by Split Decision, R3