Silva Bags Quick UFC TKO of Franklin

By Andrew Levine
Special to The Washington Post
Sunday, October 15, 2006

Anderson Silva's striking ability had earned him a decorated reputation overseas, but to much of the American public he remained largely unknown, flashing just a glimpse of his devastating potential during his impressive Ultimate Fighting Championship debut this summer.

The Brazilian finally announced his presence in resounding fashion last night, landing a torrent of knees to earn a first-round technical knockout and win the middleweight title from Rich Franklin during UFC 64 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas.

Perhaps more than any other time during his dominant three-year run in the UFC, there were questions hovering over Franklin (22-2) heading into this fight, most of which centered on a broken left hand that had sidelined him since March.

So it only compounded matters that Franklin's return came against an opponent of Silva's stature. Silva (17-4) was competing in just his second UFC fight, but had already forged an impressive career while competing mainly in Japan, where he was known as a fierce striker and an underrated grappler.

Silva immediately controlled Franklin in the clinch, clutching the champion's head with his hands and landing a knee midway through the round that left him dazed. Silva, who knocked out Chris Leben with a knee during his UFC debut in June, didn't relent. He landed another knee flush on Franklin's nose, followed by a pair of high kicks and another knee that floored Franklin and forced referee John McCarthy to stop the fight 3 minutes 59 seconds in.

"Honestly, I was not expecting him to be that strong in the clinch, and when we clinched up I was expecting that to be my sweet spot and it gave me a lot of trouble," Franklin said.

Meanwhile, a bloodied Sean Sherk pulled out a unanimous decision over Kenny Florian to earn the vacant lightweight (155 pounds) title.

While fighting from his back at the start of the second round, Florian landed a vicious right elbow and opened a gash on Sherk's head, leaving Sherk (32-2-1) perilously close to losing via doctor stoppage.

Florian's elbows figured heavily into one of his previous fights, earning him a TKO over a Alex Karalexis last year. Sherk knew this, and immediately picked up the pace as to not allow the cut to seal his fate. An accomplished wrestler, Sherk continued to take Florian down at will, controlling the remainder of the bout while fighting from the top position.

In a last-gasp effort, Florian (4-3) nearly secured a guillotine choke late in the fifth round, but Sherk escaped and nailed a jarring double-leg takedown that slammed Florian to the canvas.

The blood "was blurring my vision a little bit, but like I said before, I've been working my entire life for this moment, there wasn't nothing that was going to stop me out here," said Sherk, who dropped down from welterweight (170 pounds) for the fight. "I don't care how much I was bleeding."

UFC Notes: Carmelo Marrero earned a split decision over heavyweight Cheick Kongo, and welterweight Jon Fitch won a unanimous decision over Kuniyoshi Hironaka in undercard matches.

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