Five years ago today, a fighter who was relatively unknown at the time outside of hardcore fans who followed Japanese and British MMA, stepped into the UFC Octagon for the second time and emerged less than three minutes later as the promotion’s middleweight champion.
The fight represented the beginning of the “Anderson Silva era” as UFC color analyst Joe Rogan would later call it and to those who didn’t know who he was before, it represented the introduction of “The Spider” to the masses who had cut their teeth on mixed martial arts by watching The Ultimate Fighter.
Silva, a former Cage Rage and Shooto champion, utilized both the pinpoint accurate striking he displayed in his equally impressive knockout win over durable never-before-KO’ed slugger Chris Leben at UFN 5 four months later and his impeccable muay thai clinch game to control Franklin while punishing the then-champion with nose-crushing and rib-brusing knees. He made Rich look like an amateur sparring with a pro, and when the dust settled the crowd was left stunned by the dominant display by the UFC’s new 185-pound sheriff in town.
Until Chael Sonnen dominated him through four rounds last August at UFC 117, Silva won pretty much every round inside the Octagon and has done the same since that fight that he came back to win as well. No other fighter has risen to prominence in the UFC as quickly as Silva and it’s unlikely that another will. Love him or hate him, you can’t deny that Anderson is one of, if not THE best fighter to have ever competed in the sport.