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UFC 64: Silva era dawns

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Even with two championship changes, UFC 64 largely occurred in the shadow of other big matches.

It came four days after the third Ken Shamrock vs. Tito Ortiz fight on Spike, still the most-widely viewed live match in UFC history.

Plus, at the time, Anderson Silva was an unknown, so his middleweight title match with Rich Franklin paled in comparison when it came to public interest to the next two announced main events, Matt Hughes vs. Georges St. Pierre and Chuck Liddell vs. Ortiz.

The event on October 14, 2006, drew a near sellout of 10,773 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas.

While Silva beating Franklin should have been no surprise in hindsight, it was shocking how bad he made Franklin look in the process, destroying him in less then three minutes. Silva dominated the clinch game, landing brutal knees to the face and body, breaking Franklin's nose. A second knee rocked Franklin and a third finished him.

The show stealer was a match for the vacant lightweight title, as Sean Sherk took a decision from Kenny Florian. Sherk was bleeding badly from an elbow in the second round that Florian threw from his back. But his wrestling was strong enough to continually take Florian down and punish him most of the fight. Florian had the advantage when the fight was standing, with hard body kicks, but the fight wasn't standing much.

There was also a weird dynamic in this match regarding Sherk's cut. Sherk was bleeding badly, though not to the point it became dangerous for him to continue. However, the amount of blood was dripping out of his head and into Florian's eyes, making it dangerous to the guy who wasn't cut. The canvas was also a mass of blood as the match kept going and Florian's white shorts were a solid red by the end of the fight.

The blood loss never seemed to affect Sherk, who was still strong in the fifth round. In the final round, Sherk delivered a power bomb that caused Florian's head to bounce twice off the canvas, but didn't come close to finishing him. Sherk got the easy decision on scores of 49-46, 49-46 and 50-45.

NOTEWORTHY

Cheick Kongo was being groomed for a heavyweight title shot at Tim Sylvia, but he was derailed, being outwrestled for three rounds by Carmelo Marrero, a former Division II All-American wrestler. It was Marrero's only victory in four UFC fights.

At 18 and just four months removed from high school, Dan Lauzon, the younger brother of lightweight contender Joe, was a late replacement fighter. But he ended up losing in the first round to Spencer Fisher. The show also featured the UFC debut of one of the company's most popular fighters, Clay Guida. Guida, who doesn't win every time out, but because of his all-out fast paced style and great cardio, was in many of the company's classic matches over the past few years. He had a strong debut, winning over Justin James via choke at 4:42 of the second round. RESULTS

Kurt Pellegrino def. Junior Assuncao, submission (rear naked choke), 2:04 R1
Clay Guida def. Justin James, submissions (rear naked choke), 4:42 R2
Yushin Okami def. Kalib Starnes, TKO, 1:40 R3
Spencer Fisher def. Dan Lauzon, TKO, 4:38 R1
Carmelo Marrero def. Cheick Kongo, split decision
Jon Fitch def. Kuniyoshi Hironaka, unanimous decision
UFC lightweight championship: Sean Sherk def. Kenny Florian, unanimous decision (Sherk wins vacant title)
UFC middleweight championship: Anderson Silva def. Rich Franklin, TKO, 2:59 R1 (Silva wins title)