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UFC 77: Hostile Territory review
by Scott Newman (MMA)
Posted on February 3, 2009, 2:37 PM

UFC 77: Hostile Territory

Cincinnati, Ohio

-Subtitle of the show referring of course to the fact that Anderson Silva was coming into Rich Franklinís hometown to defend his title against the man he took it from. Pro-wrestling booking 101 basically.

-Your hosts are Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan.

Lightweight Fight: Matt Grice vs Jason Black

Two wrestlers starting us off then, and both were looking to keep their heads above water after suffering losses in their UFC debuts Ė Miletich veteran Black to Thiago Tavares, and Oklahoma wrestler Grice to the UKís Terry Etim in an exciting fight. Goldberg has apparently nicknamed Black the URBAN LEGEND, which is awesome.

Black presses forward to begin, but gets tossed right onto his back. Black looks like heís going for some sort of neck crank variant, but Grice works his way free into Blackís guard. Black looks to be turning for a kimura, but Grice is having none of it and grinds away with short punches from the top to the head and body. Black tries to lock up an arm, but Grice lifts him up and slams his way free, then drops a pair of right hands back down into the guard. Crowd are super-hot already. Black tries to lock up the kimura again, but Grice escapes once more and lands an elbow. Guillotine from Black, but Grice pops into side control to nullify it and works his way free, but ends up back in the guard. Grice passes to half-guard and drops a few elbows. Black regains full guard, but Grice remains on top working with punches, pinning Black to the fence. Black locks up the kimura fully this time, but Grice hops into half-guard to relieve the pressure a bit. Black still has it though, and uses it to flip Grice over and escape from the bottom. Grice immediately scrambles, and they get back to their feet and exchange some knees before Black tumbles to his back in half-guard again. Black locks up the neck crank thing again (Rogan calls it ďthe 100%Ē) but Grice works free, only for Black to lock up the kimura again as the round ends.

Grice opens the 2nd with a leg kick, and then lands a left hook-right hand combo and Black is ROCKED LIKE A HURRICANE!~! Big left hook folds him up bad and Grice pounces and pounds away with hammer fists looking to end things. Black manages to get to his feet, but Grice grabs his head and lands some knees, and then Black falls to his back and takes some more shots inside the guard. Somehow he looks to have recovered, but heís cut pretty bad under the right eye. Grice passes to half-guard and looks to be working to full mount. Some big punches land from the top, but Black manages to work back to full guard. More big shots land, hurting Black, but the Miletich fighter still seems with it. Grice tries to pass the guard, but Black does well to retain it, and continues to eat punches. Suddenly Black throws his legs up for a triangle, and for some reason Grice just sits there with the legs in position and lets Black tighten it up! Grice goes to his back still stuck in the triangle, and now Black lands with some HUGE ELBOWS to the head! Black goes for the mounted triangle, and then switches and goes for a triangle and kimura combo from his back, as Grice looks in DEEP trouble at this point. Grice rolls to avoid the kimura, but takes some HUGE PUNCHES from inside the mounted triangle as the round comes to an end! Crowd are going CRAZY at this point; that was tremendous stuff.

Round three and Grice misses a high kick and a left hook, but lands a nice kick to the body. Black shoots, but Grice sprawls to avoid and they end up clinched against the cage. Good switch from Grice puts Black on his back, but Black gets a guillotine. Grice ends up in side mount to nullify it though and quickly pops out. Black gets his guard back, and Grice passes to side mount but then surprisingly goes right back into the guard. Huh. Grice grinds away with small punches and elbows from the top, as Black looks much less active now, probably tired in fact. Black rolls for a kimura, but eats a big right hand, and this is looking like Griceís fight now. Good series of straight punches land to the face of Black as Grice easily avoids a possible triangle. Black rolls for the kimura again but Grice is having none of it and keeps him on the bottom, controlling him well. Grice continues to grind away to end the fight and finishes strong with some heavy blows.

I have this 30-28 for Grice, giving him the first and third rounds with the second scored as a draw. Judges have it 29-28 Black, 29-28 Grice, and 28-28 for a draw. Crowd boo loudly for that and Grice looks pretty disappointed. Joe Rogan steps in though and corrects it, telling us someone added up their scores wrong and itís actually a majority decision for Grice. Really good fight though where if Iím being honest, I was expecting a snooze-fest. First and third rounds were solid but the second was tremendous, one of the most exciting rounds of the whole year Iíd say.

Welterweight Fight: Josh Burkman vs Forrest Petz

Ohio native Petz was basically in a do or die situation here after losing his previous two fights inside the Octagon, while Burkman had lost in his first step up in competition to Karo Parisyan and was in desperate need of a win himself.

Burkman throws a right into the clinch, and they muscle for position before Burkman trips Petz down to guard. Petz tries to get to his feet, but eats some punches and then Burkman grabs a guillotine and pulls guard. Petz looks in trouble as his face begins to turn purple, and Burkman really looks to squeeze it, but Petz does well to pop his head free. Petz lands some punches from the top, but Burkman uses a butterfly guard to stand back up. They clinch again and then Burkman gets a bodylock and a takedown to guard. Burkman looks to pass the guard, as Petz tries to wall-walk up the cage to his feet. Petz uses a guillotine attempt to reverse and gets on top, pinning Burkman into the cage now. They come back to their feet and Burkman hits him with a big elbow to separate. Good leg kick from Burkman and they go back into the clinch, where Petz hits him with a left hook to the body. Burkman works for the takedown again, but Petz defends well and breaks with a left hook. Petz stuffs a takedown and they exchange some punches, but Burkman ends the round with a crazy leaping spin kick into a takedown. Burkmanís round methinks.

Into the 2nd and Burkman comes out swinging, but gets cracked by a counter from Petz and he ends up diving for a leg instead. Petz defends with some knees to the body and breaks off with a left hook. Good combo to the body lands for Petz, and he follows with a right hand and a left hook that land. Burkman switches to southpaw, but eats a big right hook coming in. Burkman begins to swing wild now, looking tired, and Petz stuffs another takedown attempt. Pace slows down, but Petz lands another body shot and a good knee; Burkman is being picked apart here. Crowd become restless as Petz continues to avoid Burkmanís wild swings and lands from the outside, including some knees to the body. Big body shot cracks Burkman but Petz doesnít really follow it up. Rogan begins to say that Petz should be pushing the pace more and Iíd be inclined to agree. Big body shot and left hook stun Burkman and have him stumbling backwards. Burkman lunges forward for a takedown but eats some knees for it. Less than a minute to go and Petz is landing at will now. Petz easily stuffs a single leg and lands another right hand, and Burkman just looks totally spent now. Round ends with another left hook, but the crowd arenít happy. Easily Petzís round.

Third and final round. Burkman looks fresher, but still gets caught coming in as he swings wild. Burkman tries for the takedown again and desperately attempts to muscle Petz down, but Forrest is having none of it and blocks using a front facelock. It looks for a moment like Petz will go for a guillotine, but he backs up instead. Things slow down again as Petz lands his punches, but doesnít really push the action, and Burkman looks stuck trying to go for desperate takedowns that donít come off. 1:30 remaining and this is looking like Petzís fight to lose now. Suddenly they exchange though, and Burkman decks him with a BIG LEFT HOOK! Petz looks in trouble as Burkman pauses for a second, and then closes in, dropping elbows before securing a guillotine, but Petz holds on and works his way out. Petz works from the top with some elbows, and then stands and ends the fight with a left hook. Close fight in the end.

Judges score it as a split decision, 29-28 Burkman, 29-28 Petz, and 29-28 Burkman. Basically Burkman clearly took the first, Petz clearly took the second, and the third, well, it depends how much you give Burkman for the knockdown. I guess Petz hadnít done that much before it so Burkman taking the win is probably fair. Not the best fight of all time, but this was a perfectly acceptable mid level fight for my money.

Middleweight Fight: Demian Maia vs Ryan Jensen

Abu Dhabi grappling champion Maia had built himself a record of 5-0 mainly on the smaller Brazilian circuit, and was touted right away as the best pure BJJ fighter in the Middleweight division and possibly the whole UFC. His original opponent wouldíve been Marvin Eastman, but he suffered an injury in training and so Ryan Jensen stepped in.

Jensen looks to strike, but Maia fires a leg kick and then instantly gets a single to side mount. Jensen grabs the head for a guillotine, but canít secure guard and Maia easily works free. Maia manoeuvres around and controls Jensen nicely, landing a couple of elbows. Full mount follows, but Jensen does well to get half-guard back. Jensen lands some shots from the bottom and gets his leg up, but Maia turns off and in the ensuing scramble he quickly hops onto the back, getting both hooks in, and from there itís academic as Maia locks up the rear naked choke for the tapout.

Pretty much a squash as Maia was just way too slick for Jensen on the ground, and although Jensen did put up a decent fight, once Maia got a good position the end came very quickly. Impressive debut for the Brazilian.

Middleweight Fight: Yushin Okami vs Jason MacDonald

This was an odd choice for a prelim as both men had been in feature bouts in their last appearances, both losing to Rich Franklin, but then I guess after losing to Franklin neither man was close to a title shot and neither, particularly Okami, was really known at this point for having overly exciting fights, so there you go.

Round 1 and they exchange from distance early before clinching, both men muscling for the takedown. Few knees exchange inside, before the ref breaks them up. Okami with a left hand, but MacDonald shoots for a single leg. Okami defends it well, hopping on one leg and showing some excellent takedown defence, and they end up clinched again much to the chagrin of the crowd. MacDonald tries to trip him down, but Okami avoids again and then breaks off. Combo from Okami back into the clinch, but they break shortly after. Good knee lands for Okami, and he blocks a high kick well. Okami with a right hand, and then a nice combo lands to close the round. Dull opening round.

Leg kick from MacDonald to open the 2nd, and Okami comes forward and MacDonald looks for a single leg again. Okami easily blocks into the clinch, and then breaks off. Body kick from Okami lands nicely as MacDonald begins to reach and lunge forward, desperate for a takedown. Okami hits him with a nice combo as MacDonald canít seem to get to grips with his own reach advantage and has no answer. They clinch again, but MacDonald still canít get him down and ends up being forced to the ground on his back in guard. Okami postures up and delivers some heavy punches as MacDonald tries to defend with wrist control. Okami is just picking his spots here, punishing MacDonald with some heavy punches. Okami stands up and really works him over, landing some brutal shots, and it looks for a second like MacDonald is in trouble, but he manages a reversal momentarily and knocks Okami off him. Okami quickly turns it around though and ends up on top in Jasonís guard again. MacDonald is bloody now as Okami remains on top landing punches to close out the round.

Third and final round and I have Okami up by two rounds. MacDonald pushes forward but eats a right hand coming in. MacDonald gets a bodylock and looks for the takedown, but ends up on his back in guard again. Okami works him over with punches and elbows from the guard again, and then passes into half-guard. More ground-and-pound follows and then Okami simply throws the legs aside and gets to side control. He tries for full mount, but MacDonald blocks and gets half-guard back. Okami keeps working though, and takes full mount. MacDonald gives his back to avoid punishment, and Okami controls him from back mount now, locking up the rear naked choke, but MacDonald does a tremendous job of pulling it off and controlling the hands to prevent it. He manages to roll free, but ends up underneath in half-guard again. Okami continues to work him over with elbows, and even though MacDonald works to full guard this is a totally one-sided round. Fight ends shortly after.

Got to be 30-27ís all around for Okami and sure enough he picks up the unanimous decision. Not the most exciting fight as Okami got off to a slow start as usual, but once he picked it up he just put a beating on MacDonald, never letting him have any offense really and the second round was especially one-sided. I can understand the Ďboringí label on Okami as heís not that explosive to watch, but you canít say he doesnít get the job done. Not the best fight but it wasnít horrible or anything.

Middleweight Fight: Alan Belcher vs Kalib Starnes

TUF IIIís Starnes had beaten Chris Leben in a mild upset in his last fight, while Belcher had guillotined Sean Salmon on late notice as a LHW. General consensus here was that Starnes had a big advantage on the ground, Belcher in the stand-up. I believe Starnes was still with American Top Team at this point too.

Starnes begins by closing the distance immediately, but eats some knees inside right away. Punches from Belcher and a flying knee misses and this is a serious pace early. They clinch up and Starnes manages to trip him down, but Belcher pops up right away and Starnes is noticeably cut. They muscle for position in the clinch with Starnes looking for a way to get Belcher down. Big jumping knee lands for Belcher and he breaks off with a beautiful elbow over the top. Starnes presses forward with some straight punches in a combo, but takes a leg kick as Belcher backs off. Kalib catches him with a big combo now, but Belcher eats the shots up and answers with a knee. Belcherís defense is non-existant at this point but he seems fine, eating up Starnesí punches before nailing him with a nasty uppercut. Big knee follows and a pair of elbows and an uppercut, and they clinch up where Belcher looks to deliver some knees again. Another elbow from Belcher breaks, and Kalibís face is a bloody mess now. Belcher breaks off and really begins to open up with punches now, hitting combos as Kalib covers up. Big knee slices Starnes open even worse and he visibly touches his head to check the cut. Kalib shoots for a takedown, but Belcher blocks with a knee and then lands a glancing left high kick. Bodyshot and leg kick from Belcher. Starnes tries to fire back, but is clearly getting the worse of it now as Belcher hits him with another elbow. Couple more kicks close the round for Belcher.

Between rounds we see the HUGE gash above Kalibís right eye, really deep, nasty cut.

They come out for Round 2, and exchange right away with both men landing punches. Kalib closes in and lands some nice shots, but Belcher grins at him and shakes them off, answering with punches and a leg kick of his own. Belcher takes over again, hitting a big uppercut and then a knee as Starnes covers up. Belcher avoids a clinch and throws some more shots, landing another leg kick and a body punch, and then referee Yves Lavigne steps in to call time to check the cut.

Doctor asks him if he can see; and then stops things. And from there we get one of the most hilarious moments I can recall in UFC as Kalib SNAPS at his cornerman and yells this classic soundbite:

ďDonít you fucking do that to me! I told him I wanted to fight! He told me he saw my skull! Fuck you! Donít do that to me!Ē

Apparently one of Kalibís cornermen figured he had told the doctor he didnít want to continue, and got the wrong idea. Hilarious stuff at any rate. Fight was pretty good while it was going, exciting stuff, but the ending was anticlimactic as I think it wouldíve gotten even better had it gone on. Good win for Belcher though as his striking looked excellent there.

Light-Heavyweight Fight: Stephan Bonnar vs Eric Schafer

Bonnar had made a triumphant return from a steroid suspension at UFC 73, and was faced with a former training partner in Milwaukeeís Eric Schafer. Apparently Bonnar used to beat on Schafer regularly (in terms of stand-up anyway) in training so heís confident of picking up the win here.

Bonnar pushes forward to begin things, but neither really lands anything and Schafer closes the distance and muscles him into the fence. They exchange knees inside before Schafer breaks off. Good leg kick from Schafer as he avoids a combo from Bonnar. Bonnar comes forward and Schafer pulls guard. Stephan stands above him and then ends up landing shots from the side, but Schafer gets guard back. Schafer works back to his feet, and lands a good knee to the gut. Fans begin to chant mildly for Bonnar, but Schafer gets a good takedown to guard. Schafer looks to pass and Stephan turns, so Schafer steps over and takes his back, working and eventually getting both hooks in. Schafer works for the choke as Bonnar defends well, and manages to shake off one hook in the process. Bonnar tries to turn into him, but Schafer gets the hook back in. Fifteen seconds remaining and Bonnar turns into Schaferís guard, but Schafer rolls for a kimura as the round ends. Decent round in terms of grappling actually.

Bonnar comes out for the 2nd much more aggressively, and blocks a takedown into the clinch, but Schafer pulls guard and looks to be working for a sweep. Bonnar is having none of it though, and begins to work from the top with some punches. Schafer stays active, but begins to take some heavy shots as Bonnar works his way into half-guard. Nice elbows from Stephan and Schafer begins to look in trouble now. Bonnar bombs away with some heavy left hands, and Schafer seems to be struggling to control Bonnar in any way. Bonnar begins to really flurry with punches, landing shot after shot, and eventually Schafer turns to his front and covers up, and John McCarthy calls the TKO there.

Decent fight I suppose; Schafer looked good in the first round but couldnít deal with the aggression of Bonnar in the 2nd, but it was nothing special you know? Just a solid mid-level fight.

Lightweight Fight: Jorge Gurgel vs Alvin Robinson

This was Gurgelís first appearance on a PPV main card and itís no surprise heíd be on this show as heís practically an adopted Cincinnati native at this point thanks to his friendship with Rich Franklin. He was faced with Alvin ĎKidí Robinson, a BJJ-based guy who on paper appeared to be a good match for Gurgel in terms of the styles. Gurgel is certainly popular, thatís for sure.

Robinson comes in swinging and they trade, but Gurgel gets a takedown off a scramble and ends up on top in guard. Some punches and elbows land from the top, and then Jorge works to pass, and manages to keep Robinson on his back, getting to side mount. Gurgel spins around looking for a better position, staying patient, and he avoids an attempted sweep from Robinson. No strikes being thrown though, surprisingly. Robinson tries to use the cage for a reversal but itís to no avail. Jorge keeps looking for mount but canít get it. Jorge stands to pass the legs and right on the end of the round he gets a beautiful step-over to mount. Total domination, albeit with no damage done.

Into the 2nd and Robinson tries a high kick and lands a knee in a brief trade, before getting a takedown to Jorgeís guard. Gurgel tries an armbar and then transitions to an oma plata, but Robinson scrambles well and tries to take Jorgeís back. He gets over/under control with Jorge in the turtle position, and then stands and tries an inverted kimura, but as he pulls Jorge down Gurgel reverses and gets on top to a loud pop from the crowd. Gurgel works to pass, but Robinson catches him in an oma plata and uses it nicely to work his way on top. And unlike Gurgel, Robinson immediately goes to work with some punches and hammer fists, as Gurgel gets his legs up for an armbar. Itís a very telegraphed attempt though and Robinson bombs away with hammer fists, marking up Jorgeís face. Big shots land for Robinson as Gurgel keeps going for the armbar with no success. Robinson maintains position, just landing shot after shot after shot until he takes full mount and bombs away until the buzzer sounds.

Gurgel looks badly hurt now going into the third round and this has taken the steam out of the crowd big time. Jorge tries a takedown to begin the third but Robinson blocks and trips him down to his back. Gurgel gets guard, but Robinson starts landing again just as he did in the second. And the whole round is more of the same, as Robinson just keeps position inside Gurgelís guard and works him over with elbows, punched and hammer fists while avoiding all of Jorgeís submission attempts. With one minute to go Robinson takes Gurgelís back and tries to isolate an arm, but canít get a submission locked up so he keeps bombing on the head instead. Poor Jorge is taking an absolute beating and you couldíve made an argument for stopping that fight.

Robinson takes the unanimous decision 29-28 all round, and while you have to give him credit for the win, Gurgel let this fight slip through his fingers as while he dominate position in the first, he didnít actually land any damage on Robinson Ė instead concentrating on improving his position Ė while when Robinson got on top it was the total opposite as he just landed shot after shot with very little answer from Gurgel aside from telegraphed armbar attempts. Very disappointing showing for Jorge, who I like a lot, but he just canít seem to get it done in the Octagon.

Heavyweight Fight: Tim Sylvia vs Brandon Vera

Hard to believe it now, but Brandon Vera for all intents and purposes changed the course of UFC history in early 2007. See, he was due for a title shot, after reeling off four successive wins, but got into a contract dispute with Zuffa (whether it was his management to blame is still up in the air really) and ended up being shelved, and his March title shot against Sylvia ended up going to....the un-retired Randy Couture. Who of course won the title and then ended up walking out of the promotion the week of *this* show actually, citing problems with the management and pay scale. Thatís a story for another day really, but Vera, after almost a year on the shelf, ended up doing the same thing as Couture would about a year later Ė that is, swallowing his pride (and in Veraís case firing his manager) and returning to the Octagon. His opponent, logically, was the man who heíd have fought for the title, Tim Sylvia. Most people were torn over who was going to take this one, with the split being between those who thought Sylvia would use his massive size advantage (about a 40-50lbs difference) and experience to beat Vera, while the other half Ė myself included Ė thought Vera would use his superior speed and kicking ability to pick Sylvia apart.

First round gets underway and they clinch right from the off, with Tim shoving Vera into the cage and smothering him. Crowd donít like that one bit. They exchange some knees by the fence and Sylvia lands an inside elbow, too. Crowd are HATING this. And is that a cannabis leaf on Veraís shorts? Vera finally switches off and breaks...but then goes back into the clinch and we get more of the same as Tim shoves him into the fence. Finally Sylvia lands some punches coming off the cage and they break. Big left hook from Vera cracks Tim on the temple, but he seems alright and fires right back. Kick to the body, left hook and good leg kick follow from Vera. Knee from Sylvia and they clinch against the fence again. Tim lands a few knees inside but doesnít do much damage really as the crowd get restless again. Vera breaks off, and lands a nice elbow as Tim comes forward. Sylvia grabs the clinch and fires some knees as Vera tries to answer with dirty boxing. Round ends with the clinch by the fence. Horrible round. Sylvia controlled the pace and positioning but Vera landed the best shot with the left hook. Anyoneís round really, but it was awful.

Vera opens the 2nd with a high kick and a nice right hand, before clinching and moving Sylvia to the fence. Tim quickly reverses position though and shoves Vera into the cage. From here very little happens. This fight STINKS. Finally Vera tries to drop for a takedown, but the ref breaks them. Vera with an elbow off the restart, but Sylvia answers with a combo that Vera blocks for the most part. Tim shoves him to the fence again and the crowd just ERUPT with boos. Couple of knees land for Sylvia but again pretty much nothing happens. Finally Vera gets a leg trip takedown and the crowd blow the roof off the arena. He lands in side mount and controls Tim right by the cage, but doesnít seem sure what to do from there. Couple of short knees land to the body but Tim looks fine. He tries to go for a knee on belly position, but Tim breaks free and Vera nails him with a knee to the head as Sylvia is still on one knee. Ref calls time for the illegal shot but doesnít take a point. They restart and Vera lands a big body kick, and then knocks Sylvia off-balance with a high kick! Leg kick and right hook follow but he tumbles to the ground on another high kick attempt on the buzzer.

Third and final round of what has been a tremendously disappointing fight thus far. And Vera clinches right away. This time Tim breaks and lands some punches, beginning to stalk forward at Vera now. Right hand lands for Vera but Sylvia answers with some elbows and punches and then forces Vera to the cage again. Crowd are just disgusted with this debacle now, and really it hasnít been the worst fight ever even if itís been bad, so itís more that they just despise Sylvia. Vera breaks with a shot to the body, but Sylvia becomes the aggressor now, landing combos as Vera tries to cover up and deflect them. Sylvia forces him into the cage again until the ref breaks them and cuts some excess tape off Veraís gloves. Restart and Vera lands a leg kick, but Tim comes forward with punches and cuts Vera open on the head. They end up by the fence again and with 20 seconds remaining the ref breaks them, but Sylvia brings it on with combos and stays busy to end the fight.

Judges score it a unanimous 29-28, 29-27 and 29-28 for Sylvia, but that was not the best performance from him as he didnít get aggressive really until the third round and before that he was just content to force Vera into the cage and hold him there. Vera for his part fought an even worse fight though, as despite having his best success striking from distance, he just kept clinching with Tim and that allowed the bigger man to trap him by the fence. You could say Veraís downfall was caused by him breaking his left hand (with the big left hook) in the first round, but then he was clinching before that anyway. No idea what was with that tactic. I mean, you could possibly make an argument for Vera winning the fight Ė he definitely took the 2nd round I would say and he did land the best shot in the first, but overall it just wasnít a convincing performance from him and Sylvia was far busier in the third. Just a terribly disappointing fight overall, especially considering how Vera had been fighting before.

UFC World Middleweight Title: Anderson Silva vs Rich Franklin

Silvaís demolition of Franklin about exactly a year prior to this had been one of the most shocking moments of 2006, but scarily Silva had seemed to have improved since then, taking out Travis Lutter and Nate Marquardt in his next two fights. Franklin had rebuilt with wins over Jason MacDonald and Yushin Okami, and so the rematch was set up in Richís home town of Cincinnati, with Zuffaís hopes, if weíre being frank, pinned on ĎAceí regaining the crown. The majority of fans saw no hope for him Ė not enough had changed since the first meeting Ė but for his part Franklin had retreated to a new training camp with Matt Hume and came into the weigh-ins looking great, Rocky IV-esque even. Would an upset be on the cards?

Annoyingly the DVD dubs over the actual entrance music they use for copyright reasons, so we lose Franklinís ĎWelcome To The Jungleí entrance and also most of his crowd pop, which was absolutely massive, one of the biggest pops I can recall hearing in UFC. Here itís totally muted, ugh. Silva is greeted with a chorus of boos, albeit nowhere near the heat Sylvia got earlier, surprisingly.

Touch of gloves to begin, and itís a tentative start as Silva simply looks relaxed while Franklin appears wary of making the first move, outside of a couple of low kicks. Franklin lands a decent right hand, but then Silva grabs the DREADED CLINCH and lands a knee to the body. The fear is actually evident in Richís eyes, but he spins off and manages to avoid damage, and they end up against the cage. Silva tries the plum again, but this time Franklin trips him down to a huge pop. Silva immediately gets full guard, so Rich stands to pass...but Silva sweeps his legs from under him and quickly springs back to his feet. Rich tries a single leg, but Silva stuffs it and they end up back in the clinch. Big chant for Franklin from the crowd as Silva lands a couple of knees to the body. Rich breaks off, but Silva catches him with a nice spinning back kick to the midsection. Silva lands a leg kick, but Franklin catches him with a clean right hand, but it doesnít slow Silva down and he comes forward with a kick to the body. Pair of right hands and a knee to the body from close range appear to have Franklin hurt, but they end up clinched again and Rich visibly looks up at the clock before forcing Anderson into the cage. Silva goes for a trip, but Rich blocks only to eat a big knee that stuns him. Pair of right hands and a body kick from Franklin, but Silva answers with a front kick that grazes Richís face. Rich tries to land something, anything now....but Silva drops his hands and simply dances around, avoiding it all. Christ. Rich circles off and Silva catches him with a spinning backfist, and follows with a flying knee! Rich looks in trouble as Silva gets the plum clinch and NAILS him with a huge knee to the face. Rich tries desperately to fire back, but Silva CRACKS HIM with a huge right hand dead on the buzzer. Matt Hume practically has to carry him to his corner and really I think if this werenít in his hometown the ref would stop it between rounds.

Somehow Franklin makes it out for the 2nd, and pushes the action, landing a nice leg kick to open, but Silva fires back with one of his own. Rich continues to press and looks to strike, but Silva avoids most of it and then grabs the plum clinch again. Suddenly itís like dťjŗ vu to the first fight as Franklin stares at Silva in what looks like awe or fear, and then wham, a knee and a right hand send him down. Rich gets back up and tries to retreat, but Silva closes in with a flurry, landing a right hand, a big knee, another right, and a sickening leg kick. Another right and a pair of knees to the head put Franklin down and John McCarthyís seen enough and steps in there. Scary.

Thatís the end of the first round, and then the end of the fight. Franklin actually fought a far better fight than he did the first time around, but in the end the result was still the same as Silva was just on a totally different level. And thatís no disrespect to Franklin, but the way Silva was stringing his strikes and combinations together here was absolutely ridiculous. A masterclass, thereís not much more you can say really.

Post-fight Silva pays respect to Franklin as a great athlete and champion, finally earning him some cheers from the crowd. Franklin seems pretty lost for words, probably still out of it due to the beating, but he does tell the crowd not to boo Anderson, and admits that he just got beaten by a better fighter on the night. Classy stuff from both men.

-And the highlight reel closes us off. Talk about highlights Ė you could make a whole highlight for Silva based on the main event.

Final Thoughts....

Letís look at the good first. The main event was a scary, virtuoso performance from an amazing fighter and you have to appreciate skill like that when you see it. And Black-Grice was a really hot opener that in another year couldíve been a low end FOTYC. On the flip side though, the co-feature (Sylvia-Vera) was a slow, plodding fight that didnít come close to expectations. And while the rest of the show was alright for what it was, what it was was a bunch of mid-level fights from solid-but-mainly mid-level fighters. I mean Bonnar-Schafer and Belcher-Starnes were fun enough, but those sort of fights were never going to impact title pictures or anything, and on a PPV from the biggest and best MMA promotion you expect a little more, you know? Main event is a good watch if youíre a big fan of Anderson Silva, but if not this is a totally missable show.

Best Fight: Grice-Black
Worst Fight: Sylvia-Vera

Overall Rating: **1/2

Coming Soon....

UFC: 78-94, Fight Nights 12-16, and TUF VI and VII Finales.
Pride: Shockwave 2005, 32, and 33.
WEC: 28-38
King of the Cage: 23, 29, 30, 32, 33, 36, 42, 48, 52, and 58.

Until next time,

Scott Newman:

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