Mark Hunt (9-8, 4-2 UFC) vs. Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva (18-5, 2-2 UFC), at UFC Fight Night 33
The main event of this card and possibly the most anticipated match of the night will feature these two big, BIG, boys taking center stage, or cage. There is nothing quite as exciting as a true heavyweight headliner and these dudes are among the truest of heavyweights, both weighing in at or near the 265 lb limit. This should be a ton (about a quarter ton actually) of fun, let’s get into it.
As if fight fans didn’t love Mark Hunt enough for his awesome runs in K-1 and PRIDE, he then comes over to the UFC and goes on one of the most unexpected, unlikely, and fun, runs in recent history. Arriving in the UFC late in 2010 thanks to a technicality in his PRIDE contract, Hunt wasn’t expected to do much. In fact, Dana White even offered to buy out his contract and let him walk but the Samoan wasn’t having it. Fresh off a disappointing run in the now defunct Dream organization apparently Hunt new something the rest of us didn’t, that he could still kick ass. After a rocky UFC start Hunt has since provided nothing but great fighting entertainment in the 5 fights since; here is how he has done it:
-Striking is and always has been his bread n butter. Being a former K-1 Grand Prix champion Mark Hunt hits extremely hard and is a seriously dangerous guy on his feet. Throwing the occasional leg kick and/or knee to the body, Hunt’s biggest and most dangerous weapons are his HEAVY hands. Relentlessly advancing forward looking to unload the big right or big left is pretty much what his game is all about. Clearly the man has lots of technical ability but he also is a bit of a brawler which makes him all the more dangerous.
-The chin of Mark Hunt is the stuff of legend. Taking the best shots that K-1’s finest, a prime Mirko Crocop and Wanderlei Silva can offer and staying standing is insane and although Hunt’s once impervious chin was eventually toppled by the games absolute hardest hitters, it still would take something special to put this man down.
-Hunt also benefits greatly from immense physical strength. Deceiving as his physique may be, make no mistake about it Mark Hunt is very strong. Time spent training at American Top Team with access to world class strength training facilities and coaches helped get Hunt in his best shape in years.
As impressive as Hunt is and can be, there are some weaknesses in his game and are responsible for the considerable number of losses on his record.
-He has been quite susceptible to being submitted. Not to say his grappling is necessarily weak, he’s showed strong positional grappling against Ben Rothwell, Tsuyoshi Kohsaka, and even Fedor Emelianenko, but he has been caught a number of times by the more aggressive submission fighters he has faced.
-It would also be wise for Hunt to try and avoid a brawl when possible, or necessary. Now I know I just got done raving about the man’s chin but he is not getting any younger, fighters are hitting harder than ever, and the cumulative effect of years spent taking shots to the head could show up at any time. There is no shame in getting dropped by Melvin Manhoef or Junior dos Santos but not falling back on a lifetime of technical striking expertise when you should is not wise. Remember Mark, you are a K-1 GP winner, not a tough man contestant.
The behemoth standing across the cage from Hunt on fight night will be the huge and powerful Antonio Silva. Fighting in MMA since 2005 Silva has done remarkably well losing almost exclusively to the MMA elite in UFC HW champ Cain Velasquez, Strikeforce GP winner Daniel Cormier, ADCC champion Fabricio Werdum, and another hard hitting Samoan Erik Pele. He has gotten better as the years have gone by and could very well be in his prime right now. He brings well rounded skills to the cage and they are:
-Size and Strength are formidable obstacles to overcome on their own, but paired with a ton of actual skill make them even more devastating. Standing 6 foot 5 inches tall and often cutting weight to make the 265 lb HW limit make Silva a handful for anyone to deal with, especially with an 82 inch reach. With all the horsepower you’d expect from a man this size Silva is capable of physically overwhelming most foes. Coming into fights in great shape just adds to the nightmare for most opponents.
-Striking, both upright and on the ground, is what Bigfoot has relied on most in his career so far with 12 (T)KO wins on his resume. Usually finishing guys with flurries of punches rather than 1 shot KO’s has been no less brutal or effective. He has great instinct as well and when he goes for the finish he usually gets it.
-Grappling is also a strength for the Brazilian; armed with black belts in BJJ, Judo, and even Karate, he is an absolute terror to be rolling around with. Successfully using these skills to take out beastly wrestler Tom Erikson, ADCC champ Rico Rodriguez and the legend Fedor Emelianenko has shown the effectiveness of Bigfoot on the mat. His size and positional dominance are among the best we will see in MMA today.
Like everyone not named Jon Jones, Bigfoot also wields some weaknesses, they are:
-Wrestling; Silva has had struggles with the very best HW wrestlers he has faced. Whether it was because of being taken down, controlled, and pounded (Cain) or getting nailed in the face due to the threat of the takedown (Cormier), wrestling has proven a problem style for Silva.
-Not that we can rip him too much for this, but Silva’s Chin has not always held up like he needed it to. It’s tough for anyone to withstand getting hit by 250 pound monsters but that is the way it goes in today’s MMA. Silva will want to get hit as little as possible in this fight because if Mike Kyle can drop you and Werdum can give you a hard time, Hunt is going to sleep you.
What a great fight this is and a worthy main event on almost any card. Two equally dangerous but very different fighters with size of this magnitude has awesome written all over it. Given how each has fared against fighters with similar builds and skills to that of each other’s I am picking Hunt to take this by 2nd round KO.