CSI: UFC is a new feature which looks back at classic moments of violence in the Octagon. With this being UFC 134: Rio week, we'll be focusing on the involved fighters. Today we take a look at the night Anderson Silva won the UFC middleweight title. A fight that did for wearing pink and brown trunks what Jaws did to going to the beach and Rocky IV did to entering the ring to "Living in America."
It's hard to remember just exactly how impressive Rich Franklin had been leading into UFC 64. He was being sold as the clear future of the middleweight division and many felt that Anderson Silva was the one man standing between Franklin and the kind of dominance that...well, that we eventually got from Anderson Silva. While many "in the know" were picking Silva to take the title, Franklin was still a -185 favorite heading into the event.
But even those picking Silva to unseat the champion couldn't have predicted the violent and dominant way that the Brazilian would go about taking the strap.
There were boos early in the contest as the two men circled and felt each other out in the way that Silva's fights often start. The often overlooked thing about this is the way that he takes about 30-60 seconds to establish distance and after that point it's difficult to do any work against him.
There was a moment early in the fight that would foreshadow what Anderson would do to Forrest Griffin nearly three years later. As Franklin throws a punch at Silva it only takes the slightest head movement and Rich's punch comes up just an inch short of landing.
Once Silva felt comfortable at a distance he was able to get inside and establish a Thai clinch that Franklin could not find his way out of. Then the knees to the body began.
Franklin took knee after knee to the body, his torso quickly marking up and eventually forcing him to drop his hands to attempt to protect the body, opening up his head to Silva's knees.
The knee above broke the nose of Franklin and sent him reeling back to the cage where Silva would follow and unload with a few kicks, punches and a knee to the temple that sent Rich crumpling to the floor and led to "Big" John McCarthy jumping in to save him from any further punishment.
As Silva celebrated with his team, Franklin sat on the stool, looking like a deer in headlights...after the car already hit it.
During the official results announcement the severity of Franklin's broken nose was apparent as Anderson had let him looking like one of those weird pig men from the "The Eye of the Beholder" episode of The Twilight Zone.
The fight was the moment when Silva became a true star in the sport after feeling like he'd wasted some of the seemingly limitless potential he possessed after being the first man to beat Hayato Sakurai. The memories of losses to men like Daiju Takase and Ryo Chonan began to fade as fans could now focus on the violent assault perpetrated on Rich Franklin.