Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) heavyweights Mark Hunt and Antonio Silva are set to throw down in the main event of tonight's (Dec. 6, 2013) UFC Fight Night 33 event from Brisbane Entertainment Centre in Quensland, Australia.
This fight promises to be a heavy-hitting affair that probably won’t come down to the judges’ scorecards.
Hunt has had an up-and-down past few years in mixed martial arts (MMA). He lost his last bout in spectacular fashion when former UFC heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos knocked him out with a spinning heel kick at UFC 160 in May.
Prior to that, "Super Samoan" had racked up a four-fight win streak and was knocking on the door of title contention.
There’s no doubt he’s one of the most powerful and exciting fighters in UFC today. He has a golden opportunity to prove he can beat top heavyweights when he steps into the Octagon to face Silva.
Number four-ranked Silva also lost his last bout, a UFC 160 championship fight against current UFC heavyweight titleholder Cain Velasquez. It was "Bigfoot’s" second technical knockout loss to Velasquez in less than one calendar year. Most fighters don’t get a chance to face the same champion that finished them with such a short turnaround, but Silva strung together two impressive victories over Travis Browne and Alistair Overeem.
However, those wins were more a product of his opponents’ mistakes rather than "Bigfoot’s" skills proving dominant. Browne badly injured his hamstring attempting a wild kick early on in their bout, allowing Silva to move in for the kill. Overeem won the first two rounds against "Bigfoot" before he gassed and dropped his hands to his sides.
Silva hasn’t shown the best chin in his short UFC tenure. That’s bad news in a big way for anyone fighting Hunt. This fight has "Knockout of the Night" written all over it. Let’s take a look at the keys to victory for Mark Hunt vs. Antonio Silva:
Record: 9-8 overall, 4-2 UFC
Keys to Victory: Hunt possesses arguably the most dangerous weapon in all of MMA with his thunderous left hook. It’s the punch that he used to break Struve’s jaw earlier this year and it’s the punch that he’ll be looking to finish "Bigfoot" with.
Hunt has an accomplished kickboxing record behind him. He amassed a 30-13 record and won the 2001 K-1 World Grand Prix Championship. That’s a striking resume that few MMA fighters can match. It’s also a skillset that is going to give "Bigfoot" fits this Friday night.
If Hunt is able to land a leaping left hook on Silva’s chin the fight should end quickly. Hunt was taking it to dos Santos at UFC 160 before "Cigano" changed the course of the fight with a huge overhand right. It was also found that Hunt was suffering from a rather large hematoma in his leg.
Those excuses don’t really matter at this point, but if Hunt is healed up from the injury he’ll be even more powerful than he was against dos Santos. We saw how much punishment dos Santos can absorb in his failed bid to regain the title against Velasquez at October’s UFC 166; Silva will not likely endure such a beating.
Hunt is going to get in "Bigfoot’s" face from the opening bell to unleash his trademark power shots.
His ground game is suspect with six of his eight career losses coming by submission. However, his wrestling statistics are actually better than Silva’s. Hunt has defended a slightly larger percentage of the takedowns attempted against him and he has a sizeable 18-percent advantage over "Bigfoot" in takedown accuracy.
Those are surprising stats that will play to Hunt’s advantage at UFC Fight Night 33. "Super Samoan" has to keep this fight standing in order to avoid Silva’s submissions and pick him apart on the feet.
Record: 18-5 overall, 2-2 UFC
Key Losses: Cain Velasquez (UFC 146, UFC 160), Daniel Cormier (Strikeforce: Barnett vs. Kharitonov)
Keys to Victory: "Bigfoot" is a massively powerful striker who has knocked out his opponent in 13 of his 18 total victories inside the cage. Hunt has an iron chin so "Bigfoot" has his work cut out for him here.
Perhaps Silva’s best way to win against Hunt is to use his Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt. He’s only shown this skill set sparingly with three submission victories on his record. If he wants to stay conscious in Brisbane he should look to get this fight to the ground as soon as possible.
Hunt may be able to defend his takedowns but that shouldn’t stop "Bigfoot" from trying. If he can gain an advantageous position on "Super Samoan," he’ll go far in neutralizing the brutal knockout power Hunt has on the feet. Silva also has a black belt in judo so he should have a variety of throws and takedowns at his disposal. All told, he’s a very well-rounded martial artist for a man of his size.
But his pride might take over and coax him into a slugfest against Hunt.
That probably won’t work out in "Bigfoot’s" best interest. Silva definitely has the power and skill to knock out a large percentage of UFC heavyweights on the feet; Hunt just isn’t one of them. Despite his power Hunt has taken the best shots that K-1 kickboxers could deal out, so Silva won’t bring anything that Hunt hasn’t seen before. Getting this fight to the mat is Silva’s key to victory.
We’ll see if he adheres to a concise gameplan or just crosses his fingers and lets his hands fly. The latter has a much higher chance of resulting in "Bigfoot" splayed out on the canvas.
Bottom Line from Brisbane: The bottom line for this fight is that it would be an anomaly to see it go the distance. Both Hunt and "Bigfoot" are known for their power so it’s no surprise that they were booked against one another.
"Bigfoot’s" lofty ranking may be a bit too generous as his wins over Browne and Overeem were arguably gift wrapped for him. But you can’t argue with his results and he’s only failed in UFC when he fought the best of the best in Velasquez.
Hunt is eager to prove that he stills belongs in the heavyweight top 10. He should be more than motivated to knock out Silva with the full backing of his Australian fans behind him. "Super Samoan" is Australia’s most popular mixed martial artist because he lays it all on the line every time out.
The jury is still out on whether or not he can actually take out a top contender, however.
That’s why Silva is a perfect test for Hunt. He’s a huge fighter who brings a solid overall game to the Octagon. "Bigfoot" has gotten emotional in his previous bouts, namely against Overeem, so he’s going to have to corral that tendency in Brisbane.
The crowd will be booing him loudly throughout and he can’t let that affect him.
Hunt is usually calm and collected in his fights. But he won’t have to worry about the crowd in this case because they are there to see him put Silva’s lights out.
If "Bigfoot" deviates from what should be an obvious strategy of implementing his top-flight ground game, those fans could easily get their wish.
Mark Hunt and Antonio Silva will go to war in a bout that will almost certainly end with a knockout. Who is your pick to deal out the damage in UFC Fight Night 33’s main event?