Sherdog Remembers: Hostile Territory

By Brian Knapp Oct 20, 2011
Rich Franklin’s tenure as a top-tier middleweight effectively ended on Oct. 20, 2007, the ill-fated night he met Anderson Silva for the second time.

A year and a week earlier, Silva had dethroned Franklin with a series of brutal knees to the body and head, as he began a title reign at 185 pounds that continues to this day. Following consecutive wins over Jason MacDonald and Yushin Okami, Franklin received his rematch and faced the Brazilian juggernaut in the UFC 77 “Hostile Territory” main event at the U.S. Bank Arena in his hometown of Cincinnati. It was not a pleasant homecoming for the man they call “Ace.”

Though he had addressed the Thai plum, a clinch technique which Silva had used to devastating effect in their first encounter, Franklin was not able to withstand the champion’s overwhelming skill and firepower. By the end of the first round, the former mathematics teacher had been so badly beaten that he needed assistance in order to return to his corner. The one-minute interval between rounds was a welcomed respite but did not provide nearly enough time for Franklin to recover. As he rose from his stool, it became apparent that his cause was lost.

With Franklin on wobbly legs, Silva went to work in surgical fashion. He pinned the former champion to the cage and unleashed a dazzling combination to various levels of Franklin’s exposed body. Silva followed with a succession of ringing knees to the head, the last of which folded the challenger and brought for the stoppage a little more than a minute into round two. The two men embraced afterwards in a show of respect, but it was clear to all who witnessed it that “The Spider” had indeed arrived as MMA’s most dominant middleweight.

Since their rematch four years ago, Silva and Franklin have gone in decidedly different directions. Silva’s title reign has entered its sixth year and he now finds himself in the “Greatest of All-Time” discussion. The 36-year-old has won all 14 of his fights in the UFC, 12 of them by knockout, technical knockout or submission. Franklin, meanwhile, has moved to the light heavyweight division with mixed results.

UFC 77 also marked the promotional debut of 2007 Abu Dhabi Combat Club Submission Wrestling World Championships gold medalist Demian Maia, who submitted Ryan Jensen with a first-round rear-naked choke. The scene has replayed itself more than once in the ensuing years, as Maia has established himself as one of the sport’s premier middleweights and one of its most feared ground fighters.

In addition, the event played host to two-time heavyweight champion Tim Sylvia’s last win inside the Octagon. The 6-foot-8 “Maine-iac” defeated Brandon Vera by unanimous decision in the co-main event. He left the promotion a few months later following his submission loss to Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira.

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