The latest UFC PPV program, featuring Rich Franklin and Anderson Silva in a middleweight title re-match from the US Bank Arena in Cincinnati, Ohio on Saturday evening, was billed as "Hostile Territory."
The tag for UFC 77 referred to the fact that Silva would be defending the title he ripped away from Franklin at UFC 64 on October 14, 2006, on Franklin's home turf, in Cinci.
But in fact, the two could fight anywhere in the world, and it would prove to be "hostile territory" for Franklin, because he cannot hope to match up with the best middleweight in the world of MMA today.
Silva, who tattooed Franklin viciously with a severely nasty barrage of knees to win the title, had to work harder this time to defend it. But The Spider again used his gluey clinch, heat-seeking knees, and quick hands to overwhelm the game but overmatched Franklin, securing a stoppage win at 1:07 of the second round.
In the second, Franklin came out looking to land, throwing combos. But Silva has superb hand-eye, and slipped almost everything.
Then he went to work on the weary Ohioan, throwing him to the mat, and looking to land anything and everything. A left knee to Franklin's chin as the loser was pressed against the cage, nearly defenseless against the super-accurate closer, hit flush, and it was almost closing time.
Silva threw a straight right that hit, another left leg knee, then a right leg knee as he manipulated Franklin's head down to meet his missile. Franklin dropped to the ground and referee John McCartthy intervened in timely fashion, waving off the onslaught.
Franklin, age 33, brought in Matt Hume, one of the more well rounded tacticians/tutors in the game to try and solve Silva's Muay Thai clinch mastery. The 6-1 hitter, weighing at 184 pounds, stepped into the cage with a 24-2 record. This could be his last Octagon outing, we'll see.
Silva, the 32-year old from Brazil entered with a 19-4 mark.
Ace hugged Silva hard and raised his hand, acknowledging his excellence, after the finish. He sported a cut under his left eye, but shrugged off treatment in order to give props to Silva.
In the first round, the lefty Franklin and the lefty Silva checked each other out, and started with some hand trades. Franklin didn't look tentative, a good sign considering how obvious his inablity to deal with the clinch hurt him the last time around.
The first Silva clinch came a minute in, but Franklin kept his feet moving, instead of standing stationary, and letting the BJJ/MT practitioner cinch it in. Ace rebuffed the clinch, and took Silva to the floor. Franklin had been training at an undisclosed location--Goldberg and Rogan revealed that to be Wyoming--and it looked like the old dog had learned some new, neat tricks. Silva then went in a different direction, and unleashed a quickie turnaround side kick that met his target, Franklin's middle. Franklin checked the clock as Silva bore in, and the crowd sensed his needs. They started a "Let's go Franklin" chant. Silva dropped Franklin with a right with five seconds to go, and had the bell not sounded, he would've been stopped. He looked gassed on his stool, while Silva looked fresh and ready to end it.
Afterwards, Silva gave credit to Franklin for being a solid fighter and human being.
Franklin spoke to Joe Rogan after the hard end. "He had me tonight, what can I say, sorry hometown crowd. I don't even remember what happened, I'm going to have to look at the tapes," he said. He managed a chuckle with Rogan, and thanked Silva, asking the crowd not to boo Silva, and said sorry for not doing better, and also wished wife Beth a happy 30th birthday.
Tim Sylvia met Brandon Vera in a heavyweight beef. Sylvia is a former heavyweight titlist who said coming in that he was going to give the fans a good show. Vera hasn't fought for real in almost a year, while Sylvia, coming off back surgery, last fought in March, when he lost to Randy Couture in a David vs. Goliath match.
Vera, age 30, came in with an 8-0 mark, while 31-year-old The Maine-iac Sylvia entered at 25-3. Sylvia had a five inch height advantage, 6-8, to 6-3, and a 35 pound weight advantage (260 1/2 to 225 1/2).
In the first, Vera pursued a clinch strategy, minimizing Sylvia's reach edge. The crowd started booing after a minute of lackluster "action." Vera, who looks like he could be at light heavyweight, or even lower, and Sylvia weren't in barn-burner mode, for sure. The crowd let them have it at the close.
In the second, Vera came out salty, with a high kick and how are ya strike. Then it was back to a mutual clinch, with Sylvia shoving Vera up against the cage. The crowd was happy when the ref broke the clinch to encourage some strikes. But it was right back to the clinch. Yawn. Vera then dumped Sylvia to the mat but didn't press the positional edge. No ground and pound, no searching for a submission opening. The ref warned Vera for a knee while Sylvia had a knee on the ground, and the former champ took a break. Vera went kick-happy to end the round and fell on his keister, but the horn sounded, and Sylvia couldn't press the issue.
In the third, it was back to Clinchtown. Sylvia tried to lift the occasional knee to score and Vera did the same. Sylvia let the hands go for a spell and Vera didn't like the taste of glove in his face. A slice opened on the crown of Vera's head but seeing red didn't send Sylvia into a finishing fury. He did get busier, though, enough to impress the judges. Vera told his corner that he broke his hand after the round ended. Not to be flippant, but then why not throw kicks like a machine? Vera fought scared, like he wanted to be down at light heavy, and the judges punished him for it: 29-27, 29-28, 29-28.
Sylvia will likely face off with Mintauro Nogueira in a title fight, as heavyweight champion Randy Couture has thumbed his nose at the company, and spurned his belt. Sylvia, though, called out largebody Cheikh Kongo afterwards, and Kongo has been busy in UFC, impressively so. Vera apologized to his coach, and said he broke his left hand in the first round. He's a slickee, who told the crowd that Tim's a good dude, even though they booed him.
Dude, they booed you, too.
OCTAGONAL ODDS AND ENDS-Ex-WWE stud Brock Lesnar, who did amateur wrestling for 18 years, and has done MMA for two years, is on board with UFC. The Minnesotan told Joe Rogan he was geared up to show that he's learned the difference between UFC and the scripted stuff.
--Cinci Boy Nick Lachey took in the action. He wasn't booed when they showed him on the Tron.