Saturday night, Brown had the answer. Fighting in his hometown of Cincinnati, Brown and Silva had an instant candidate for Fight of the Year.
In a barnburner of a brawl, Brown (19-11) withstood a fast start by Silva, turned the tide, and then finally put away the tough Brazilian at 2:11 of the third round.
It was the seventh consecutive win for the veteran Brown, the longest active win streak at 170 pounds in the UFC.
"I just do what I do," said Brown. I didn't feel my best at all tonight, this was my first main event, my hometown, the pressure got to me a bit."
In a whirlwind round one, Silva rocked Brown with a big body kick, followed him to the mat, got his back, and nearly put him away with a rear naked choke. He then followed up with a neck crack before Brown finally managed to escape and get back to his feet. From there, improbably, Brown rallied with a wicked sequence of knees and standing elbows. Silva likely only escape getting finished in the round by circling away when the going got tough.
Brown turned the tide in his favor for good in round two, but Silva somehow managed to hang in there. Brown continued to mix up his strikes with vicious efficiency. When he got Silva to the mat, he got Silva into a crucifix position and landed several punches. After Silva escaped, Brown trapped him in a triangle/armbar combo, but Silva again managed to survive the round.
The end came in round three, as Brown continued his onslaught. Silva finally covered up on the mat and referee Herb Dean waved it off.
Brown who had to drop out of a December fight with Carlos Condit due to a herniated disk, left no doubt what he wants next. "Who do you think should get the next title shot?" Brown asked the hometown crowd, which roared in approval
In the middleweight co-main event, Costa Philippou shook off his slump with a knockout victory over Lorenz Larkin.
The scrap was brief but exciting, as the two stood and traded, with Larkin (14-3, 1 NC) getting the better of the action for much of the bout. Right up until he missed a looping right hand, which Philippou answered with a huge left hand to the jaw, which dropped Larkin to the mat and ended the fight on the spot at 3:47 of round one.
The win snapped a two-fight losing streak for the 34-year-old Cypriot, who improved to 13-4 with one no-contest.
Cruickshank landed a bullseye of a left head kick, which dropped Koch to the mat. He then landed a big right hand, which appeared to briefly put Koch (14-4) out. But he also followed with a big series of elbows, which went on for a painful length of time before referee Gary Copeland waved off the fight.
The time of the stoppage was 3:21, as Cruickshank (15-4) won for the third time in his past four fights and registered his second straight knockout.
"It's a great night for me," Cruickshank said. "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. I was getting my timing, my range. And once I got that situated, I went in there with my foot and took him down and started striking."
Near the end of a largely uneventful first round, Magny scored a knockdown with a big left hand, likely sealing the round in his favor. In both the second and third rounds, Means, who was a replacement for William Patalino, recorded solid flurries of offense, including a series of big knees to the side of the downed Magny in the second. But he let Magny off the hook both times, and this let the fight slip away.
"I feel like the fight went well," said Magny. "It didn't go according to plan. His range and his build were a little different, so I had to adjust during the fight. Having to adjust to a guy who is as long or longer than me was an adjustment for me. He's a hard guy to find a training partner for, difficult to imitate. But I'm happy with the win."
Magny (10-3) won his second straight fight; Means (20-6-1) had a two-fight win streak snapped.
Australian heavyweight Soa Palelei made it 11 consecutive knockout wins as he made short work of the debuting Ruan Potts. Palelei (21-3) got full mount on Potts, then knocked him cold with a short left hook to the jaw. Potts ate a couple more shots before refereee Keith Peterson could step in and end the bout at 2:20 of round one.
"I was just really careful. He has good submissions," Palelei said. "I want to keep improving. I have a lot to learn, lot to iron out. That was, though, a Hulk smash win. A lot of my fights don't go past the first round. I work well on the ground."
The victory put Palelei at 3-0 since joining the UFC; the South African Potts dropped to 8-2.
In the main-card opener, veteran Chris Caraiso knocked from the ranks of a split decision in a flyweight bout. All three judges scored the bout 29-28, with two of those scores going Caraiso way.
The fight was by and large a clinch fest, but Caraiso (17-5) managed to distinguish himself with tight chokes in both the first and second rounds, and he simply had more gas left in the tank in the final round.
Cariaso won his third straight fight; Smolka, in his second UFC fight, dropped to 7-1 for his career.
"I thought the fight was awesome," Cariaso said. "I started out faster than I normally do which I was happy with. But towards the end I got a little tired. I was looking for submissions all the time. 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."