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UFC 77 Hostile Territory Report
UFC News
MMA News Written by Joel Recinos   
Sunday, 21 October 2007
ImageUFC 77 Hostile Territory was held October 20th, 2007 at U.S. Bank Arena in Cincinnati, Ohio, home to Rich “Ace” Franklin.
Middleweight championship bout

UFC fight fans were especially interested in this championship rematch as most were convinced that Franklin didn’t have the nerve to step back into the Octagon with the man who broke his nose so severely that it required surgery. Had Franklin found a way to escape the Muay Thai clinch of Anderson Silva? You see, Silva didn’t just win their first fight, it was a beat-down so one-sided it could almost legally deemed criminal assault The fight lasted 2:59 but that’s a little deceiving considering the first 1:33 was spent circling the Octagon. Once Silva applied the Muay Thai clinch, Franklin was simply unable to prevent Silva from kneeing him in the face or throwing him around the Octagon by his head.

Before taking on the man who took is belt and destroyed his aura of invincibility, Franklin took two tune-up fights. One of them was a unanimous decision win over Yushin Okami, the last man to beat Anderson Silva almost two years ago. Since becoming champ, its been Silva who has looked unstoppable. He quickly dispensed with Travis Lutter and Nathan Marquardt, two Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu fighters that experts thought would give Silva trouble. Silva proved he had ground skills of his own. He just hadn’t needed prior to that for beating Franklin and Chris Leben..

Franklin entered the Octagon to Guns n Roses’ Welcome to the Jungle while Silva strutted in to DMX’s Ain’t No Sunshine. Then came what turned out to be an exiting first round. Even though Franklin was able to escape the Muay Thai clinches, and even though Franklin was able to rock Silva with a few lefts, he still looked like a deer in the headlights after Silva overwhelmed him with painful knees to the body, kicks to the head, uppercuts, overhand rights and a rib-busting spinning back kick. With 3 seconds left in the round, Silva pops him on the jaw with a right hook and Franklin crumples to the canvas like a rag doll. Silva pounces but the Franklin is saved by the bell. A wobbly Franklin was helped back to his stool. Franklin looking dazed while his corner gave him instructions. With great heart and courage, Franklin stood up for the second round.

In the second round, once again in the clinch, Silva brought up a left knee and followed it with a short hard right hand that dropped Franklin again. Franklin got up and scrambled away but Silva punched him in the head while in hot pursuit. Once Silva had a dazed Franklin against the fence, the familiar onslaught of knees, fists and kicks began. The shot that put Franklin down for good with 3:54 left in the round was yet another knockout knee flush on the chin.

Anderson Silva (20-4) owns another dominating victory over Rich Franklin (24-3). He successfully defended his title for the third straight time, looking unstoppable in the process. Right now there doesn’t seem to be anyone in the middleweight division that can beat him. Will Kendall Grove give it a try or will someone have to drop down from the light-heavyweight division? As for the former champion Rich Franklin, he has definitely met his match. Though this fight ended in similar fashion as the first, at the very least Franklin made it to the second round this time. But Franklin had better give up any fantasies of regaining his crown.

Both Franklin and Silva are classy human beings. There was no trash talking before the fight or after. Both men highly respect each other. Franklin rose from his stool to hug and congratulate Silva, who shook off any praise. Franklin then raised Silva’s hand in victory. Anderson almost looked like he felt bad for winning. In his postfight comments with Joe Rogan, Silva, through a translator, had nothing but praise for the fallen champ saying Rich Franklin deserves everyone’s respect. Silva then grabbed the mic and in English thanked everyone for coming. Rich Franklin, in his interview, admonished the crowd not to boo a great warrior like Silva. He thanked Silva and apologized to the home crowd for losing. Silva raised Franklin’s arm and then personally thanked each of Franklin’s crew. Quite a refreshing show of class from both fighters.

Heavyweight bout

It’s been almost a year since Brandon Vera came out of nowhere and garnered attention with a first round knockout of Frank Mir in UFC 65 preceded by a first round submission win over Assuerio Silva in UFC 60. He certainly deserved a fight on the main card but definitely drew a tough assignment going up against the former heavyweight champion, Tim Sylvia. Coming off back surgery, Tim Sylvia is still big, powerful and hard to take down. Sylvia is on the road to get his belt back. The one he lost to Randy Couture in UFC 68 last March. But first, he has to defeat the hungry, undefeated, rising star, Brandon Vera. Vera could put himself on the UFC “A” list by taking out the still dangerous Tim Sylvia. The winner of this fight stands a good chance of getting a crack at the Heavyweight title left vacant by the retirement of Randy Couture.

The first round was spent wrestling against the fence Roman-Greco style. The crowd booed the lack of action. With a minute and a half left and the crowd still booing, a frustrated Sylvia said “C’mon Brandon”, daring Vera to mix it up. With that, they separated and exchanged blows. That lasted all of 30 seconds and it was back up against the fence.

Brandon started off the second round with a head kick and a right hook before a stunned Tim wrapped him up and bullied Vera back to the fence. It stayed there until two minutes were left and Brandon finally toppled Sylvia for the takedown. Tim was able to wrap up Vera and avoid any damage. Sylvia scrambled to his feet but still had one knee on the ground when Vera illegally kneed him in the head. The ref called timeout to warn Vera. The fight resumed with 13 seconds left and Vera finished big landing two huge leg kicks before time expired.

The third round was more wrestling against the fence. With two and half minutes left, Sylvia responds to crowd booing by going on a fist-throwing rampage, for a moment looking like the Tim Sylvia of old. But Vera weathered the attack. After another referee timeout to cut tape, Sylvia exploded again. This time Tim opened a cut on the top of Vera’s head and it bled profusely. It was back against the fence but the ref broke it up. With 30 seconds left, Sylvia landed another barrage of short punches and overhand elbows but Vera persevered, smiling at Tim when the horn sounded.

This wasn’t the stand-up brawl we were led to expect. I guess sometimes instead of kicking a guy’s ass, you have to win by not letting the other guy kick yours. Sylvia (26-3) wins by unanimous decision. Vera (8-1) suffers his first loss and a broken left hand, which he said happened in the first round.

Light-Heavyweight bout

Many thought this was Bonnar’s comeback fight after suspension for testing positive for the banned substance Boldenone following his rematch loss to Forrest Griffin in August of 2006. But his actual comeback fight was a submission win over Mike Nickels in UFC 73. The win received little attention when it wasn’t televised because two other fights selfishly went the distance. This time Bonnar goes after his friend and former training partner, Eric Schafer. The little known Schafer is 1-1 in the Octagon and is coming off a loss to Michael Bisping in UFC 66 last December.

No real damage was done in the first round. A few takedowns, some elbows and leg kicks. Near the end, Bonnar almost got caught in a rear naked choke but he escaped. The second round saw Bonnar dishing out some punishment from the half-guard position. Schafer tried a few submission attempts and tried to roll out of it, but no soap. With a couple of minutes left in the round and Bonnar angling to land more punishing shots, Schafer grew tired of the pounding and gave up. He covered his head and stopped fighting back. Recognizing the fight was gone from his opponent, Bonnar turned it on with several big punches until finally Big John McCarthy stopped the fight.

Bonnar wins but was hardly tested. He improves his Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) record to 14-4 while Schafer drops to 9-3-3.

Middleweight bout

The Ultimate Fighter 3 (TUF) semi-finalist, Kalib Starnes was coming off a unanimous decision win over Chris Leben in UFC 71. His opponent, Alan Belcher, had submitted Sean Salmon in 53 seconds at UFC 71after taking the Light-Heavyweight bout on short notice.

Alan Belcher came out for round one a flurry of activity, opening a huge one-inch gash over Starnes’ right eye, most likely from one of the many knees Belcher landed that round. Momentum switched back and forth as Starnes landed some beautiful jabs that set up the right hook. Starnes’ standup game looked like it would finish the fight early. But Belcher weathered the onslaught and came back with more devastating knees to the head and stamina-sucking leg kicks. By the end of the round Starnes’ face was a bloody mask as he sluggishly spent the remainder covering up.

In the second, Starnes stunned Belcher with a couple overhand elbows causing Belcher to smile and drop his arms to show it didn’t hurt. Starnes obliged him with a few more for Belcher to shake off. Luckily for Belcher, that bit of cockiness didn’t get him knocked out. With 3:23 left in the round, the referee called time out so the doctor could  look at the cut. Doc came in and with a grimace stretched the cut to reveal skull and ordered the fight stopped. Kalib appeared fine with the decision until his corner shouted something from outside the fence. Kalib went ballistic, screaming through the fence at his corner “Don’t you %@$# do that to me. I told him (the doc) I wanted to fight. He told me he saw my skull. %#$ you!”

Belcher wins by TKO with deadly elbows, knees and uppercuts. He improves his MMA record to 11-3. Starnes, 10-3-1 with the loss, will be back. A cut is a disappointing way to lose a fight because it settles nothing. Even with the cut, Starnes was still dangerous and continued to land some brain-jarring shots.

Lightweight bout

All nine of Alvin Robinson’s wins have been by submission but he lost his UFC debut to Kenny Florian. He fights TUF 2 cast-member, Jorge Gurgel.

With two Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu specialists going at it, it’s no wonder the entire first round was spent on the ground, with Gurgel in the dominant position. Round two saw more of the same except this time it was Robinson in the dominant position. Unlike Gurgel, Robinson dealt out some ground-and-pound damage. Gurgel took several punches to the face, swelling his eyes and bloodying his nose. He took a pounding until the bell rang, then got up and wobbled to the wrong corner.

Robinson continued the ground and pound in round three. Gurgel was taking major damage to the face which was all swollen and lumpy. He hung on and went the distance but his face will be sore for three weeks.

During his postfight comments with Joe Rogan, Robinson was very humble and respectful in victory. With the unanimous decision win, an unscathed Robinson beats a credible opponent and improves his MMA record to 10-2. Poor Jorge (14-3) took a beating with all his students in attendance. How do you go back to the gym and demonstrate how to escape submissions when the whole class saw their teacher trapped and manhandled. Embarrassing stuff.

Middleweight bout

Undefeated Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu fighter Demian Maia is making his UFC debut against Ryan Jensen, who lost his UFC debut to Thales Leites. After much wrestling, Maia wins by rear naked choke. Maia keeps his record perfect at 7-0 while Jensen (11-3) has lost both of his UFC fights. 

In other UFC action

Yushin Okami defeated Jason MacDonald via Unanimous Decision Rd 3
Josh Burkman out pointed Forest Petz via Split Decision Rd 3
Matt Grice took the fight over Jason Black via Split Decision

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