Sherdog Remembers: The Ascent of ‘The Spider’

By Brian Knapp Oct 14, 2016

It was a beatdown of almost unthinkable proportions.

On this day 10 years ago, Anderson Silva challenged Rich Franklin for the undisputed Ultimate Fighting Championship middleweight crown in the UFC 64 main event at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas. “The Spider” needed less than three minutes to rearrange Franklin’s face before 10,173 stunned fans, many of them caught off-guard by the technical carnage they witnessed.

Franklin had lost just once in his career and entered the bout on an eight-fight winning streak during which only David Loiseau had gone the distance with him. Only a handful of MMA insiders recognized the monster that was headed his way, as Silva was still a largely unknown commodity among casual observers. Those who knew the Brazilian best understood the dangers he brought to the table.

Silva established early dominance, as he picked apart “Ace” whenever, wherever and however he wanted. Once they engaged in close quarters two minutes into the match, the former Cage Rage and Shooto titleholder applied his vice-like Thai clinch and raked Franklin with knees to the body over and over again. Silva continued to attack the Ohio native’s core, forced the fading champion to carry his arms low and then sent a knee upstairs, the impact smashing Franklin’s nose upon impact. His legs buckled, he stumbled backward and he wandered into the clinch once more before being felled by another knee to the head. The middleweight crown was now Silva’s.

“The Spider” went on to defend the 185-pound championship a record 10 times, usually in highlight-reel fashion, and establish himself as one of the greatest pound-for-pound fighters of all-time. In fact, his victory over Franklin touched off the longest title reign in MMA history, as Silva ruled the middleweight division for almost seven years. Nate Marquardt, Dan Henderson, Patrick Cote, Thales Leites, Demian Maia, Chael Sonnen (twice), Vitor Belfort and Yushin Okami were all victimized, along with Franklin in their October 2007 rematch.

Not until July 6, 2013 was Silva knocked from his perch. In the UFC 162 headliner, his penchant for showboating finally caught up to him, as Chris Weidman knocked him cold with a clean left hook and follow-up punches at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Silva had spent nearly 2,500 days atop the middleweight division.

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