How hated, exactly, is Tim Sylvia? Let’s put it this way: He got booed more after his win over Brandon Vera on Saturday night than Anderson Silva did after knocking out Rich Franklin in Ace’s hometown of Cincinnati — while Silva was wearing Pittsburgh Steelers colors. Now that’s hate.
Scoring a unanimous decision over the good-humored, charismatic Vera in a fight that generally consisted of the two men clinching on their feet against the fence, Sylvia did nothing to change his image as a boring fighter who relies on his size to win matches. But you gotta feel for the dude; it can’t be fun to get booed at weigh-ins, and to have Brandon Vera explain to the crowd after the fight, “he’s a nice guy once you get to know him.” (Vera, it should be said, didn’t look too impressive against the Maine-iac, was responsible for most of the clinching that made the fight so dull, and should probably give up the ice cream and drop down to light heavyweight.)
The middleweight championship bout between Franklin and Silva was a lot more action-packed, but ended much the same way as their first meeting, with Franklin eating knees until he hit the mat and the fight was stopped (this time at 1:07 into the second round). Franklin looked outmatched from the start, and was nearly knocked out by a punch at the end of the first round but was saved by the bell before Silva could take full advantage; as soon as Franklin started stumbling to the wrong corner, it was obvious that this one would be over soon. In fact, Franklin was so dazed after the fight that a member of his team had to remind him to wish his wife Beth a happy birthday during the post-mortem with Joe Rogan. (She turned 30, by the way, and I’m sure it was the best birthday ever.)
As for the rest of UFC 77’s main card:
—Alan Belcher’s choice of entrance music, “Under Pressure” by David Bowie and Queen, was questionable to say the least. (What, would “West End Girls” by the Pet Shop Boys be too manly and intimidating?) But the middleweight proved he was no punk by abusing Kalib Starnes with his impressive kickboxing until Starnes suffered a cut on his forehead so deep that the doctor said his skull was visible. The result: Second-round stoppage and a win for the Talent.
—Eric ”Awful Nickname” Schafer and Stephan ”Awesome Nickname” Bonnar faced off in the light heavyweight match, with Schafer dominating the first round before Bonnar took control in the second, working his ground-and-pound until Schafer rolled onto his stomach and basically waited for the referee to stop the beating. Bonnar looked formidable, and the crowd was psyched to see him back to his winning ways.
—In the most brutal display of the night, Alvin Robinson and Jorge Gurgel’s lightweight match went from a relatively even jiu-jitsu exhibition to a one-sided pounding, as Gurgel (another Cincinnati hometown boy) found himself on his back for the majority of the second and third rounds, and was unable to defend himself against the punishment raining down from Robinson. By the time the unanimous decision was handed down, Gurgel’s face was a swollen mess. So, not a proud night for The Queen City — but a fabulous night for America!