Great Expectations: What We Expected vs. What We Learned from 'Hunt vs. Bigfoot'

Bradley Kanaris

This past weekend, MMA fans were treated to one of the best fights of the year, and perhaps the greatest heavyweight fight in the history of the sport, involving Mark Hunt and Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva at UFC Fight Night 33 in Brisbane, Australia. Were fans ready for the five-round brawl that ended in a majority draw, and did they expect it to turn out the way it did? We shed some light on what we hope for when anticipating fights such as these.

Examining a fight like Mark Hunt vs. Antonio Silva, before we even witnessed any round of that fight (highlights here), many assumed it was not necessarily going to be uneventful. But at the same time, it lacked great interest.

Maybe because it was definitely going to be a decent scrap, although as a headliner, many observers felt that either we had seen better ones in the past (and that these newly promoted UFC cards are more or less watered-down and oversaturated) or that it would have fit better as a co-main event, or a contest that could have filled up a pay-per-view (PPV) broadcast.

Both "The Super Samoan" and "Bigfoot" have partaken in entertaining and jaw dropping fights in the past, yet their main event match-up was either going to be short and sweet, or long and dull.

At least those were the "expectations."

There is definitely going to be those out there who will vouch until the sun comes home for their accurate predictions, and say they were right all along, and they knew this particular bout was going to be the five-round classic it turned out to be. We are not going to say they were wrong; however, the general consensus is what we should be looking at here.

Having said that, it is more so a question of general consensus and expectations versus what is supposed to happen.

For example, there was an expectation that Mauricio Rua was going to defeat James Te Huna. We expected it. And quite frankly, Rua was supposed to win in such a way that he did. Say what you want about Chael Sonnen submitting a subpar and not as focused "Shogun" back in the summer at UFC Fight Night 26.

Sonnen has competed against the best fighters of the world before, and that fight was destined to be a lot more competitive than the one Rua was involved in on Friday night. This is not to say Te Huna would not bring forth a competitive fight himself, but Sonnen was proven to give some of the world's top fighters trouble before.

We did think that perhaps Sonnen would sprawl out on top of Rua for a while and get a boring decision, but the competitive edge was there.

Now, did we expect Rua and Te Huna to be good, or did we expect to be thrilled the way we did early on in the fight with "Shogun" brutally knocking out Te Huna?

This past Friday night, if someone had said that Hunt and Silva were going to stand toe-to-toe, and trade their most powerful punches for five rounds and participating in arguably the fight of the year (and the best heavyweight fight in a long time, albeit), chances are you would have taken it with a grain of salt.

The odds were that it was going to be an early knockout for either Hunt and "Bigfoot," and that this fight was not going to last more than a round or two. Seeing how Hunt only went to a decision once in his past 13 fights, along with the fact that Silva had gone to a decision twice in his past 10, how else was this fight supposed to go?

As for the event card, it was fairly decent.

There were some interesting storylines going in, and some fights were very intriguing to say the least. It turned out to be a solid night of fights on a Friday night for us in the Western world, and it reminded us that sometimes a fight card should not be judged as bad before it happens (the famous words of Dana White).

That is something we cannot help but criticize.

As we mentioned before, the UFC has given us a plenty of fight cards over the past two years and it is generous since there is so much free content, but some cards lack either big names or the event as a whole is not that interesting.

Sometimes, we are greatly surprised by having no expectations.

A case in point was UFC 163: "Aldo vs. Korean Zombie," this past August, with Jose Aldo defending the featherweight strap against Chan Sung Jung, along with Lyoto Machida versus Phil Davis. You would think those two fights would be a reason to tune in. The rest of the PPV card was lackluster, and combining those with the two previously mentioned fights, it was safe to say that event sucked.

On the contrary, we get UFC Fight Night 32: "Belfort vs. Henderson" months later, and although we knew Vitor Belfort and Dan Henderson was going to be great, we did not have any expectations for the rest of the event and specifically main card notables such as Rafael Cavalcante, Jeremy Stephens and Brandon Thatch. Even if you had an itch they were going to win their fights, we did not expect that whole event to be one of the better free fight cards of the year, including the "Prelims" (especially being a Brazil card, because they get a lot of flack). Even UFC "Fight for The Troops 3" was somewhat incredible to watch midweek, free of cost.

Is a fight card entertaining because they are loaded with finishes? Perhaps. Is that what makes or break a card, though? No, because the epic five-round clash we witnessed this past weekend did not have a finish, nor did it have a winner.

It begs to ask another question: Do we have high expectations going in, or are we supposed to have those?

An event as a whole is slightly different. We have over 10 bouts to look forward to. Sometimes, when we have the presumption that a fight is impossible to be boring (Alistair Overeem vs. Travis Browne, or Gilbert Melendez vs. Diego Sanchez come to mind), we feel a sense of gratitude because it was everything we were hoping it would be.

Although, when it does not materialize into what we had predicted (like Rory MacDonald vs. Jake Ellenberger, or Lyoto Machida vs. Dan Henderson), we are quick to trash certain fighters, the president of the company even trashes them, and we refer back to those performances when that fighter has a new bout coming up, reminding ourselves it may not be worthwhile to expect anything out of them.

As fans of the sport, and as writers, experts, pundits, and professionals, we deserve to be entertained, or at least be susceptible to happy outcomes. Surely, NFL or NHL analysts cannot get enough of the back-and-forth performances and victories from an abundance of players and teams throughout covering the sport, and it should be no different for those who took the path of MMA.

Yet, what is different for us is that we must remind ourselves that with the growth of our sport, and the fact that athletes are either getting better or coming up with superior game plans that avoid them taking a huge amount of damage, we should not expect the greatest of actions from every fight that is promoted to be a barnburner.

We are then, too easily disappointed.

If the higher ups or our peers keep shoving down the fact that a certain contest is must watch and it is going to be fantastic, we will watch it but it is then put on a pedestal. We watch that fight expecting something. And when we do not get what we were promised, we are outraged.

That is why a fight like Hunt and Bigfoot's are usually the most memorable in our sport, and the ones that are harder to come by when compiling a mental list of the best fights ever. It is safe to say that Hunt and Bigfoot was going to be good, but not as great as it was. We would have been very surprised if it turned out to be one of the greatest heavyweight fights ever.

It turned out to be just that, and we were shocked.

Hopefully, that is the right train of thought we can have approaching fights -- and even events -- in the near future.

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