Believe it or not, the next time UFC middleweight champ Anderson Silva takes to the Octagon will be almost exactly seven years to the day “The Spider” captured fans’ attention with a tremendous torching of heavy-handed slugger Chris Leben at UFC Fight Night 5. This time around, at UFC 162, Silva will put his strap on the line for the eleventh consecutive time. Along the way he’s defeated the likes of Chael Sonnen (x2), Vitor Belfort, and of course Rich Franklin.
“Ace” is where it all really began for Silva. Though his win over Leben was a thing of beautiful brutality, the Brazilian’s complete dismantling of divisional great Franklin in October 2006 truly kicked off his run towards the top of the sport’s all-time greats. The then 31-year old Silva was still somewhat of an unknown to mainstream fans with more ardent viewers likely recalling him as the man who showed flashes of brilliance at times but also got submitted by Ryo Chonan. Meanwhile, Franklin was a long-standing champion on an eight-fight winning streak and coming off career performances against Evan Tanner, Nate Quarry, and Ken Shamrock.
At the end of the fight, not only had their standings dramatically changed but so had the structure of Franklin’s face. For the first minute, the match-up was even with each landing a few decent leg kicks and glancing blows. Thirty seconds later, Franklin was locked in a clinch eating knees to the midsection with things going rapidly downhill from there. It was an iconic performance and the first of many jaw-dropping (and jaw-crunching) finishes from Silva.
In the spirit of his upcoming scrap with Chris Weidman, here’s a look back at Silva’s original win over Franklin thanks to the good folks at the UFC…