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Matt Brown gets best of Erick Silva in UFC Fight Night main event

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CINCINNATI - Fighting in his home state for the first time in nearly five years, Matt Brown (19-11) delivered a thrilling performances with a third-round stoppage of Brazilian import Erick Silva (16-5).

The bout served as the headlining matchup of Saturday's "UFC Fight Night: Brown vs. Silva" event, which took place at U.S. Bank Arena in Cincinnati.

It was Silva who looked well on his way to victory in the early going, delivering a pair of crushing kicks to the body that sent Brown crashing to the floor, doubled over in pain. But as Silva swarmed for the finish, first with strikes and then with a choke attempt, Brown somehow gutted through the onslaught and worked back to his feet. From there, it was a matter of time.

Brown shook off the pain and returned fire with punches, kicks and elbows from all angles. To his credit, Silva survived the onslaught for the remainder of the first round, not to mention the entirety of the second frame, as well.

Silva showed occasional signs of a comeback, as every body shot caused Brown to momentarily wince. But Brown's momentum was too great and his pressure too relentless. Early in the third round, he sent Silva crashing to the floor, and after avoiding a desperation submission attempt, postured up and unleashed a furious flurry of strikes that forced referee Herb Dean to call off the bout at the 2:11 mark of the frame.

Afterward, a humble Brown was typically ho-hum in regards to the "Fight of the Year" effort.

"I just do what I do," Brown said. "It's my first main event in my home state. The pressure got to me a little bit. Once I settled down, I got going.

"My power wasn't really there today; maybe he's that tough. When I usually hit people with those punches, they go down. He kept fighting."

In the night's co-feature, Constantinos Philippou picked up a much-needed win with a thunderous first-round finish of Lorenz Larkin.

The two strikers were trading bombs on the feet from the start. Philippou was firing heavy leather with his crisp boxing, while Larkin answered in kind while also missing in snapping kick to the legs. But as Philippou closed the range, he nullified some of Larkin's tools, and that's when he unleashed his biggest shots. A left hand wobbled Larkin, and a right hand put him out cold at the 3:47 mark, snapping a disappointing two-fight losing streak for Philippou.

"It was a big win for me," Philippou said. "It followed two very disappointing losses. Before my last fight, I wasn't sure if I wanted to keep fighting, and it showed. I looked awful. But the UFC called and gave me another shot."

Lightweight striker Daron Cruickshank (15-4) scored a first-round finish of Erik Koch (14-4).

It was Koch who held the centre of the cage and looked to use his range to pick apart his opponent's legs. Unfortunately for Koch, Cruickshank walked through the blows and delivered a stunning left high kick that sent his opponent toppling to the canvas. Cruickshank immediately pounced with a non-stop barrage of punches and elbows that forced a merciful stop at the 3:21 mark of the first.

"It's a great night for me," Cruickshank said after the win. "I showed up. When I show up, I can beat anyone. I know I belong among the best in my division, and I think I proved that tonight."

In a battle of rangy welterweights, Neil Magny (10-3) started quickly then survived some late trouble to battle back for a hard-fought decision win over Tim Means (20-6-1).

As two of the taller fighters in the division, both struggled to settle into a comfortable range. The back-and-forth action left the fight hanging in the balance in the final frame. Means started strong, hurting Magny with an early barrage of knees. But Magny survived the onslaught and battled back to score a takedown, stifling his opponent for the remainder of the round and edging out Means for a decision win with scores of 30-27, 29-28 and 29-28.

"Having to adjust to a guy who is as long or longer than me was an adjustment for me," Magny said. "He's a hard guy to find a training partner for, difficult to imitate, but I'm happy with the win. It just puts me in place to keep climbing."

In heavyweight action, Australian Soa "The Hulk" Palelei (21-3) ran his winning streak to 11 fights with a crushing first-round defeat of South African UFC newcomer Ruan "Fangzz" Potts (8-2).

While Potts was considered the superior grappler, Palelei took him to the floor in the early going and quickly moved to mount, where a perfectly placed left hand put his opponent to sleep at the 2:20 mark of the first round.

"I think the hard work and my good coaches have helped," Palelei said. "Relentless training is the key. I've been working hard and want to prove to everyone that I belong in the UFC."

In the night's first main-card matchup, flyweight Chris Cariaso (17-5) handed highly-touted prospect Louis Smolka (7-1) his first career defeat.

While Cariaso was the smaller man in the cage, his aggressive attacks throughout the bout, coupled with a strong submission game that saw him threaten to finish the fight on a few occasions, were enough to earn him a hard-fought split-decision win.

"I was looking for submissions all the time," Cariaso said after the win. "When guys get low, they get susceptible to submissions, so I tried for them.

"We expected him to come forward right away, which is exactly what he did, so the fight went according to plan."

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