For Australian and New Zealand mixed martial arts fans, it’s one of the most anticipated fights of the year … Sydney-based Kiwi heavyweight Mark Hunt up against Brazil’s former UFC heavyweight title challenger Antonio ‘Bigfoot’ Silva.
It’s a match of contrasting styles … a feared knock-out artist against a decorated Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt. And it’s also a fight that can put the victor back on the path to the UFC heavyweight title.
But it’s a war in which Hunt will emerge victorious … and here’s why.
1. Hunt has knock-out power in both fists
There’s a reason that Mark Hunt (9 wins, 8 losses) is one of the most feared fighters on the planet — because when he hits an opponent, he hurts them. A former world champion kickboxer, Hunt has six KOs from nine MMA victories — two of those earning UFC knock-out of the night bonuses. Antonio Silva would do well to avoid watching vision of the third round of Hunt’s victory over seven-foot Dutchman Stefan Struve. A brutal left hand from Hunt not only KO’d Struve … it broke his jaw. And against taller fighters (the likes of Struve, Cheick Kongo, Chris Tuscherer), Hunt’s KO record is scary. Disconcertingly for Bigfoot fans, four of the Brazilian’s five defeats have come by way of knock-out (twice against Cain Velasquez and also against Daniel Cormier and Eric Pele).
2. Only now is Hunt a true mixed martial artist
Just three years ago, it appeared Hunt’s days as a UFC fighter were well and truly over. He had just suffered a sixth consecutive loss and UFC president Dana White had banished him to Facebook preliminary bouts. But it’s easy to forget that Hunt was forced to learn on-the-job when he switched from professional kickboxing to mixed martial arts. He was seen to have a poor ground game, but that’s only because he didn’t even begin training in Brazilian jiu-jitsu until after he began his MMA career. He’s now a much more well-rounded fighter, proving he can mix it with noted submission specialists such as Struve and top wrestlers like Ben Rothwell. He’s now better equipped to defend the takedown, and has shown he can work his way out of trouble when attacked with submission attempts.
3. The home crowd advantage will fire up the ‘Super Samoan’
The last time that Mark Hunt fought in Australia, he announced his return as force in the UFC’s heavyweight division with a brutal knock-out of journeyman Chris Tuscherer. In front of a packed house at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre, Hunt will feed off the energy of a partisan home crowd. And don’t underestimate the luxury of a short 90-minute flight from his Sydney base to the Brisbane fight venue. In his last bout, Hunt not only had to deal with travel from Sydney, to Auckland, to Las Vegas … he also had to deal with a Customs issue that meant he didn’t arrive in the USA until just a few days before his fight.
4. Silva has a big chin … but Hunt has the better chin
Hunt’s made a name for himself as a knock-out artist, but he’s just as popular with fans for his ability to take a punch and keep moving forward. Throughout his MMA career, Hunt has taken big shots from some of the biggest names in the sport — the likes of Wanderlei Silva, Mirko Cro Cop, Fedor Emelianenko, Alistair Overeem and Junior dos Santos. There’s little doubt that Hunt will be able to take the best shots that Silva can dish out … and he’ll return them with interest. If it comes down to a slugfest — and it just might, given Silva’s past four victories have all come via KO or TKO — you’d back Hunt every time.
5. Confidence is an amazing thing … especially for Hunt
Both Hunt and Silva come into their bout off last-start losses … Hunt against former UFC heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos, and Silva against current UFC heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos. And while Silva was demolished in a one-sided round one TKO, Hunt will actually take plenty of confidence out of his performance against dos Santos, in which he suffered a third-round TKO. Early in round one, Hunt badly fractured his toe — and injury which severely hampered his movement throughout the fight. Even so, he was able to stand and trade with one of the UFC’s most feared knock-out artists in a performance which confirmed his place amongst the top echelon of the heavyweight division. An injury-free Hunt will be supremely confident of securing a knock-out win against Silva.