Ten years ago this week, MMATorch.com published a column by Randy Rowles breaking down what big wins meant to various fighters on the card including, most notably, the rebirth of Anderson Silva with a dominant Middleweight Title win over Rich Franklin.
UFC 64 saw the crowning of two new champions. The UFC Lightweight Championship was finally reestablished after having long ago been vacated by Jens Pulver. Sean Sherk dominated Kenny Florian for five rounds, winning the title via unanimous decision. Anderson Silva made short work of Rich Franklin and took his UFC Middleweight Championship. We are in the dawning of a new era, as all five UFC weight divisions now have undisputed champions. And what a roll call of champions it is — Tim Sylvia, Chuck Liddell, Anderson Silva, Matt Hughes, Sean Sherk.
Anderson Silva’s rebirth in the UFC has him looking like that other vicious Silva from PRIDE that the UFC had been trying to bring in. Earlier in his career, Anderson Silva spent some time in PRIDE. After losing his second PRIDE match in a row in late 2004, Silva came back onto the big show scene at UFC Ultimate Fight Night 5 and slaughtered Chris Leben in less than a minute. This decisive victory, and the great highlight reel it provided, sprang Silva the whole way to the top of the mountain, where he proceeded to knock Rich Franklin off his pedestal, literally. Silva is now the man in the UFC. Spike TV’s The Ultimate Fighter 4 is currently featuring a tournament to determine a number one contender for Silva. Odds are we could be seeing Anderson Silva vs. Travis Lutter for the title sometime early next year. The other possible contenders along with Lutter are Pete Sell, Edwin Dewees and Patrick Côté. As for Rich Franklin, a match against Nathan Marquardt to determine the number one contender would be a great match for both of them. Franklin will rebound from this loss, but Franklin definitely has lost some of his mystique, as Silva gobbled it up. Anderson Silva has to be considered one of the scariest dudes on the planet right now.
Participants of The Ultimate Fighter have been popping up all over UFC shows lately, but UFC 64 only featured two former TUF stars. Kalib Starnes from TUF 3 was not able to overcome Yushin Okami, and Kenny Florian from TUF 1 lost in his chance to capture the UFC Lightweight Championship. Starnes is a tough fighter, and there is no reason why he shouldn’t be given another shot in a future preliminary match. Kenny Florian, even though he lost, gained a lot at UFC 64. He survived five rounds with Sean Sherk, which is something not many men have been able to do. With his performance at UFC 64, Florian has solidified his position as a top lightweight fighter. No one can question whether Florian is for real or not after this fight. Kenny Florian is here to stay. Florian is a fan favorite, way over with the crowd, as fans were chanting his name throughout his match.
An excellent first opponent for Sean Sherk to defend his UFC Lightweight Championship against would be Melvin Guillard. Guillard created a great highlight reel with his body punch KO over Gabe Ruediger at UFC 63. Guillard would cut some great promos before a title fight. Guillard would compliment Sean Sherk’s no-nonsense style well. Melvin Guillard vs. Kenny Florian would also be a great option. Two other lightweight bouts took place at UFC 64, also. Spencer Fisher and Clay Guida both won their matches, continuing their dominance in MMA. Both of these fighters are beyond legit. A Sean Sherk vs. Spencer Fisher match would have hardcore MMA fans salivating. Throw Clay Guida, Tyson Griffin, Joe Lauzon, Sam Stout and Jason Reinhardt into the mix, and there will be no shortage of exciting lightweight matches in the future for the UFC. There are so many options, this is definitely a refreshing change for the organization.
While the UFC used to have a stacked heavyweight division, with only a few credible lightweights, this has completely flip-flopped now, as there is now a severe shortage of credible heavyweights in the UFC. UFC Heavyweight Champion Tim Sylvia will be putting his title on the line against Jeff Monson at UFC 65. Beyond Monson, there aren’t a whole lot of credible guys waiting in line for a heavyweight title shot. It would almost be worth it for some light heavyweights to bulk up, get away from Chuck Liddell, and try their chances in a less-crowded field. The UFC was hoping — ala Anderson Silva vs. Chris Leben — that Cheick Kongo would provide them with a deadly finish for a highlight reel that would propel Kongo to the top of the weight class. Instead, Cheick Kongo lost to Carmelo Marrero via split decision in a poorly reviewed match. Despite a three round bout, both Wade Keller and Shawn Ennis rated the match in the one-star range. The UFC has to be extremely disappointed in this match, as not only did Kongo fail to impress, but so did the winner of the match. Carmelo Marrero didn’t show anything impressive enough for him to be seen as credible yet. They are going to have to build Marrero to make him something. Kongo was already there, standing on the verge of superstardom, but this loss has now set him back a few steps. The Kongo spark that the UFC had hoped would turn into a wildfire was smothered by Marrero, literally.
UFC 64 featured two welterweight bouts. Kurt Pellegrino and Jon Fitch both secured victories and progressed their upward mobility in the UFC. In his virtual time report, Shawn Ennis wrote that he would love to see a Jon Fitch vs. Karo Parisyan match, and I would like to second this opinion. That could be a superb match-up. Matt Hughes will defend his UFC Welterweight Championship against Georges St. Pierre at UFC 65. Jon Fitch has worked his way into the upper echelon of UFC welterweights, along with Diego Sanchez, Nick Diaz and B.J. Penn. Kurt Pellegrino has the potential to follow Fitch to the top. A Kurt Pellegrino vs. Nick Diaz match would be a great way to bring Pellegrino up to the top of the card, and put him to a test that he is more than ready to take.
UFC 64 was a night of new blood. Anderson Silva, Sean Sherk, Jon Fitch and Spencer Fisher all made their biggest mark in the UFC to date. Due to the short main event, Clay Guida’s preliminary match made it to the PPV, which is a huge bonus in exposure for him. Add in Kenny Florian’s honorable showing, and that makes 6 UFC fighters who greatly benefited from UFC 64. The only disappointments of the night were Kalib Starnes and Cheick Kongo. Both, however, have already established reputations and will surely be given another chance. Easily, this could have just been an off-night for both, and their careers will eventually soar. This was definitely a winning PPV for the UFC in terms of creating credible stars. The momentum is on their side and they are rolling stronger than ever. For the first time, in quite some time, five undisputed champions sit atop the UFC mountain. Just before Halloween, the UFC has found themselves with 5 frightening monsters holding their titles. Trick or Treat?
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