Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Heavyweight sluggers Mark Hunt and Antonio Silva will go to war once again this Saturday (Nov. 14, 2015) at UFC 193 inside Etihad Stadium in Melbourne, Australia.
Since his historic battle with Silva, Hunt has found mixed results. He scored a gorgeous knockout victory over Roy Nelson to return to the win column, but he enters this bout on the heels of two straight defeats.
Meanwhile, Silva's slide has been even worse. Two straight knockout losses earned him a major step back in competition, and even then, his victory over Soa Palalei was hardly a return to form.
Let's take a look at the keys to victory for both men:
Key Wins: Roy Nelson (UFC Fight Night 52), Stefan Struve (UFC on Fuel TV 8), Cheick Kongo (UFC 144)
Key Losses: Fabricio Werdum (UFC 180), Stipe Miocic (UFC Fight Night 65), Junior dos Santos (UFC 160)
Keys to Victory: Despite his pedestrian record, Hunt is still one of the best in the world at Heavyweight. A ruthless power punch regardless of whether he's counter punching or charging his opponents, Hunt has done well to round out the rest of his game in recent years.
Both men have been on the wrong end of some tough losses in the last couple years, but Hunt appears to more or less be the same fighter. He may be a bit slower and less durable, but he's still a tough and dangerous task for the majority of the weight class.
On the other hand, "Bigfoot" looks like a completely different athlete. He's far slower, less physically imposing, and he can't endure hard punches anymore.
With that in mind, Hunt should look to take out Silva quickly. While Hunt is fresh, his opponent's takedown attempts and slow punches aren't much of a threat, so Hunt should take advantage immediately.
Hunt is a precise striker and he should test his opponent's chin early as possible.
Record: 19-6 (1)
Key Wins: Fedor Emelianenko (Strikeforce: "Fedor vs Silva"), Travis Browne (UFC on FX 5), Alistair Overeem (UFC 156)
Key Losses: Cain Velasquez (UFC 160, UFC 146), Frank Mir (UFC Fight Night 61), Andrei Arlovski (UFC Fight Night 51)
Keys to Victory: One of the largest fighters in the division, "Bigfoot" hits hard, but his game has always been to drag his opponents to the mat. From top position, Silva's penchant for landing devastating ground strikes is unmatched.
Despite his decline -- which cannot be helped -- Silva needs to build upon what worked for him in their first fight. Namely, the Brazilian needs to chop down Hunt's lead leg from the get go and make use of his reach advantage with long, straight punches.
By utilizing his full range, Silva will make it difficult for Hunt to close the distance. Hunt has never been known for his conditioning, whereas that area of Silva's game doesn't seem to be affected. If Silva slows down Hunt with strikes and makes him tired, the odds will definitely even out.
Furthermore, Silva can drastically change the fight with just a single successful takedown attempt. I don't care how much slower "Bigfoot" has become, there's no way any fighter can survive his mount and escape unscathed.
This is far from an easy match up for Silva, but he's not out of the fight, either.
Bottom Line: While it's clear that neither man is likely to contend for the title ever again, they're fighting for a position inside the Top 10.
This is especially true for Hunt. His two recent losses were undoubtedly rough, but they came against two of the top five fighters in the world. If Hunt can win here, he proves that he's still relevant in the overall title picture, even if it is quite unlikely.
On the other hand, it's never a good sign when a fighter takes a step back in competition and still loses. If Hunt comes up short against "Bigfoot," his career renaissance is likely over, at least in terms of being a Top 10 fighter.
Honestly, before Silva's last win, it looked like his career was over. His losses to Mir and Arlovski were absolute putrid, as Silva looked extremely hittable and less than durable. He looked a bit better in his victory over Palelei, but "Bigfoot's" future is anything but certain.
If the massive Brazilian manages to win here -- and look good doing it -- perhaps he's made the necessary adjustments to return to form. However, the more likely result is another painful defeat, which again questions whether Silva is worthy of his position on the roster.
At UFC 193, Mark Hunt and Antonio Silva will throw down. Which fighter will earn the victory?