Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) visits the Brisbane Entertainment Centre in Queensland, Australia, for UFC Fight Night 33: "Hunt vs. Bigfoot," which takes place Saturday locally but will be seen on FOX Sports 1 and FOX Sports 2 in North America on Friday night (Dec. 6, 2013).
Two heavyweights looking to rebound after knockout losses with title aspirations on their minds compete in our main event, as fan favorite Mark Hunt returns to fight in Australia against the behemoth Antonio Silva.
The co-main event features a familiar face at crossroads, as Mauricio Rua desperately needs a win against the hard-hitting James Te Huna to show that he can still find success in this sport and overcome the new challenges that will constantly present themselves.
With the majority of this card's excitement focused on these two bouts, let us look into the near future and map out what a victory might mean for these four combat sports stars.
Stepping up to fight in the main event for the first time under the UFC banner, the time is now for Mark Hunt.
Do not let Hunt's professional mixed martial arts (MMA) record of 9-8 fool you; he is one of the biggest stars of the sport for those who grew up watching in the early days, and his K-1 kickboxing accolades speak for themselves.
The New Zealand-born powerhouse is still one of the heavyweight division's deadliest strikers, and if you let him hit your chin, you are looking at the most violent form of a lullaby possible.
Many observers felt that Hunt could have been in the title picture if he had beaten Junior dos Santos at UFC 160 in Las Vegas earlier this year, however he lost. After an inspiring four straight wins in the UFC after losing six bouts in both Japan and in the current promotion he is with now, "The Super Samoan" could still make a claim that he should be considered as championship material if he beats a former title contender in Antonio Silva.
A win for "The Doctor" would be just that -- a claim that he can contend for the division's title and make a case that Cain Velasquez should be wary of. He would need more wins, since the winner of Josh Barnett and Travis Browne at UFC 168 seems like the forerunner for now. If he cannot win though, it may be time to finally cool that talk and let Hunt ride off into the sunset after inserting him in a few more fun fights.
Beating Hunt would not be as monumental as his wins over Alistair Overeem, Travis Browne or Fedor Emelianenko, but it would be enough for "Bigfoot" to get back to where he left off before being stopped by Velasquez at UFC 160 last May.
Despite losing his past three by way of knockout to Velasquez twice and Daniel Cormier, Antonio Silva always finds himself in the big fights. Winning over "The Super Samoan" does not mean Silva gets another crack at the gold just yet -- he would need to string a few more wins together for a second chance. With that being said, he would get another tough test put in front of him and "Bigfoot" should be used to those by now.
Walking into enemy territory this weekend, Silva knows the risk of facing a striker like Hunt. He cannot afford to be embarrassed in Australia, because that would dent any future title hopes and result in him being a mid-level player in the ever-evolving heavyweight division.
Not only would he improve to 3-3 in his last six, but he would also show the rest of his heavyweight foes that he is still a dangerous match, with his eyes still on the prize if they decide to engage in a duel and take that away from him.
It feels like we have had this conversation with "Shogun" several times before, yet as different as the case may be now -- the song remains the same.
Longtime supporters of the former PRIDE FC superstar are hoping that Rua can somehow bounce back into championship form, even though he is 2-4 in the UFC since he won the light heavyweight championship over Lyoto Machida way back at UFC 113 in Montreal.
With his sights set on the middleweight division, if Rua cannot beat underdog James Te Huna this Friday night, conversations about retirement will rise, and even "Shogun" diehards will find it difficult to argue their point. Rua still has a chance to achieve greatness yet again in this sport at age 32. Although, after a number of grueling fights and having to fight the best in the world on a consistent basis for 10 years, there will be thorough soul searching on his part when he steps out of the cage with a loss. It is unlikely that the company would cut him after three losses, yet it does not have him in good standing, either.
A win does not only mean he snaps a two-fight losing streak and erases the memory of being submitted by Chael Sonnen at UFC Fight Night 26 in Boston a few months ago, it means there is a chance to continue in this sport with hopes of becoming reborn.
James Te Huna
It is extremely obvious that a win for James Te Huna will be the most satisfying one of all 16 of his previous victories.
A win over Rua will be much bigger than wins over the likes of Ryan Jimmo, Joey Beltran and Aaron Rosa, it would skyrocket his career momentarily, and it would bring forth another tough light heavyweight soon after.
There will not be any title contention talk, and even a top 10 ranking for Te Huna seems fairly optimistic, but the slugger knows well enough that if he can beat a former champion in the division, it could lead him to believing that it is the way to go in order to become one.
Not only would it be a massive upset in the eyes of those who believe Te Huna is bait for "Shogun" to get back on the winning track, but also proof that the co-main event competitor is one to watch, potentially earning a humongous victory for his career.
MMAmania.com will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 33 fight card on Friday night (Dec. 6, 2013), starting with the Facebook "Prelims" at 6:30 p.m. ET, then followed by the FOX Sports 2 "Prelims" at 7 p.m. ET, right on through the FOX Sports 1-televised main card bouts beginning at 9 p.m. ET.
See you on Friday!