LAS VEGAS, June 28 – UFC middleweight champion Rich Franklin has a new challenger to look out for, and his name is Anderson Silva.
Tonight, the world-class Brazilian bomber, who was making his long-awaited UFC debut, walked through the usually durable Chris Leben in a mere 49 seconds, stunning the crowd at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino and announcing his arrival with a flourish – a loud one.
Immediately establishing his striking dominance, Silva pumped a couple of jabs in Leben’s face, and after a right hand by ‘The Crippler’ grazed the Brazilian and opened a small cut over his eye, ‘The Spider’ pounced with extreme prejudice, stunning Leben with a left kick and a three punch combination that put him down and apparently out.
Leben regained his senses as he hit the mat, but instead of looking to clear his head with a takedown or some movement, he immediately tried to trade with Silva and after getting hit with a right uppercut, a thudding right knee put Leben down again, with the follow-up barrage bringing in referee John McCarthy to halt the bout.
It was Leben’s first loss in six UFC fights.
Two of Canada’s finest won hard-fought bouts in the Octagon, with lightweight Mark Hominick and welterweight Jonathan Goulet each decisioning tough foes.In the lightweight bout, Hominick outpointed Jorge Gurgel in a fast-paced three rounder that saw the bout remain on the feet for the entire 15 minutes of action. And even though the fans in attendance booed the 29-28 across the board verdict, Hominick’s faster hands, takedown defense and accurate counters edged out Gurgel’s aggressiveness and heavier shots.Goulet, looking to rebound from an 11 second knockout loss at the hands of Duane Ludwig in January, went the entire three rounds in outpointing Long Island’s Luke Cummo.Scores were 30-27 twice and 29-29 for Goulet, who controlled Cummo on the mat for most of the bout, though the New Yorker did have his moments in the second round when his superior strikes almost knocked Goulet out. Unfortunately for Cummo, his decision to follow Goulet to the mat ended up eventually costing him on the scorecards.In undercard action…Josh Koscheck notched the biggest win of his young career as he scored a solid but unspectacular unanimous decision over former UFC middleweight champ Dave Menne.Scores were 30-27 twice and 29-28 for Koscheck.“It’s a great honor to fight a former champion and have him on my list,” said Koscheck.After some tense opening moments, Koscheck drew first blood with under a minute gone via an overhand right that jarred Menne. The former middleweight champ survived the initial shot, but was dominated on the ground for the rest of the frame.Menne rebounded in the first two minutes of round two, but by the midway point, Koscheck again had his foe on the ground, where he pounded away in spurts and continued t6 build on his lead.Perhaps sensing that the fight was slipping away, Menne came out fast in the final frame, only to once again find himself on his back and on the receiving end of Koscheck’s strikes. To his credit, Menne kept trying to finish the fight with various attempts at submissions, but Koscheck was too strong for Menne, who was fighting for the first time in the UFC as a welterweight.Long Beach, California’s Jason Lambert improved to 3-0 in the UFC as he rebounded from a slow start to pound out Branden Lee Hinkle at the end of the first round in a light heavyweight bout.It was a good showing for me,” said Lambert. “He was a strong guy.”Hinkle started strong, but even though he was able to produce a couple of takedowns, he was never able to keep Lambert on the mat for long, and by the midway point of the round, the fight was all Lambert, who lived up to his nickname of ‘The Punisher’ with a sustained attack on the ground. After the round ended and a dazed Hinkle was obviously in no condition to continue, referee Herb Dean wisely halted the bout.“I think he flashed out,” said Lambert. “He was taking a lot of punishment, so it was a good stoppage.”Welterweight Jon Fitch may have moved from the realm of prospect to contender as he , notched his third consecutive Octagon victory by stopping Brazil’s Thiago Alves. After some dicey early moments, when a kick and attempted guillotine choke by Alves put him on the defensive, Fitch roared back with an impressive array of ground and pound technique as he controlled Alves for the remainder of the first round and much of the second.Alves’ last hope came late in the second stanza as he escaped Fitch’s clutches and looked to take the offensive. Unfortunately, ‘The Pitbull’ was a little too eager, and a up kick from the prone Fitch put him on rubbery legs. Fitch pounced on his opponent and opened up with both hands, prompting a stoppage by referee Mario Yamasaki at the 4:37 mark.Toronto’s Rob MacDonald, an alumnus of season two of ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ series, scored his first UFC victory with a first round submission of season three’s Kristian Rothaermel. The end came at 4:01 as ‘Maximus’ locked in a picture perfect armbar on his New Orleans foe.American Top Team’s Jorge Santiago opened up the evening in explosive fashion, knocking out California’s Justin Levens with a single knee to the head at 2:13 of the first round in a middleweight contest.