Best fight in the history of the UFC’s heavyweight division?
If the reaction of UFC president Dana White is anything to go by, the five-round war between Mark Hunt and Antonio Silva in Brisbane yesterday might not just top the list of the best heavyweight contests, but also the best fights in the organisation’s 21-year history.
Both heavyweights were left a bloody mess after a brutal, see-sawing 25-minute contest which ended in a majority draw … a result that, if anything, added more lustre to the contest.
One judge had it 48-47 for Hunt, but two judges scored the fight 47-47 — a 10-8 fifth round for Hunt bringing him back from the brink of defeat.
Indeed, there were no losers in this contest … not the fighters, not the fans and certainly not the UFC, which will reward both fighters handsomely for the organisation’s first card in Brisbane on a night that attracted more than 11,000 fans and a worldwide audience of millions.
UFC president Dana White labelled the bout the “sickest heavyweight fight ever”, immediately tweeting that both fighters would earn a $50,000 fight of the night bonus, as well as be given their win bonuses. That means a total pay day of at least $370,000 for Sydney-based Kiwi, Hunt, and $200,000 for Brazilian Silva.
Both Hunt and Silva win FON and both get their win bonus and I might buy them both their own private ISLANDS!!!! Sickest HW fight ever!!!
— Dana White (@danawhite) December 7, 2013
There was plenty in the script leading into this fight, but not because the fighters disliked each other. Indeed, the two are good friends, having spent a good deal of time training together at the American Top Team gym in Florida.
That friendship would need to be put aside, though, because victory for either fighter would not only have major implications for their careers, but also for the UFC’s heavyweight division.
Both Silva and Hunt were coming off losses at UFC 160 … number-four-rated Silva to the champion, Cain Velasquez and Hunt (currently not rated in the top 10, but a massive UFC fan favourite) to former heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos.
The winner would set himself up for another run at the UFC’s heavyweight title, while the loser would be consigned to the also-rans of the division.
A tense opening round gave little clue what was to follow, with Hunt and Silva both wary of each other’s knock-out power.
The taller Silva used leg kicks to good effect to keep Hunt at a distance, shading the round. A close second round in which both fighters had their moments — Silva a nasty legkick that buckled his opponent, and Hunt a big right hand that staggered his taller foe — had the crowd on edge.
Then, in Round 3, all hell broke loose.
In what most considered a shock, Hunt took Silva, a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, to the ground and unleashed brutal ground and pound; short elbows, hammer fists and big right hands bludgeoning the head and body of Silva. He survived, but it seemed just a matter of time before Hunt would get the knock-out in the fourth round.
After eating a massive elbow midway through the round, Silva found his second wind, a brilliant combination of punches knocking Hunt to the ground. All of a sudden, the roles were reserved, with Silva in full mount and Hunt desperately trying to protect himself and avoid a stoppage. He did … just … setting up a deciding fifth round.
What Hunt didn’t know at the time was that he was down three rounds to one on two scorecards. Only a knock-out would win him the fight … and only a massive, dominant round would earn him a draw.
For the first two minutes of the final round, Silva did his best impersonation of a punching bag as Hunt landed unanswered lefts and rights. After opening up a massive cut on Silva’s forehead, the referee stopped the contest for the doctor to take a look. The all-clear was given … and then Hunt continued to dish out punishment, Silva doing his best to keep the ‘Super Samoan’ at bay.
In the end, neither fighter would lose … and we’d be left to marvel at the heart and courage showed by both men in what can quite aptly be described as a war.
— Junior Dos Santos (@junior_cigano) December 7, 2013
dos Santos, who was beaten in a UFC heavyweight title bout against Velasquez after defeating Hunt earlier this year, described the fighters as “great warriors”, while former fighter-turned-commentator Kenny Florian described Bigfoot and Hunt as “animals”.
— Kenny Florian (@kennyflorian) December 7, 2013
The fight will no doubt be afforded a place amongst the best contests to take place in the Octagon, alongside the likes of The Ultimate Fighter 1 finale between Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonner, the UFC 79 war between Chuck Liddell and Wanderlei Silva and this year’s light heavyweight title bout between Jon Jones and Alexander Gustafsson.
Unfortunately for the Australian crowd, wins were few and far between for the local fights on this card.
Perth heavyweight Soa Palelei announced himself as a force in the UFC’s heavyweight division with a dominant first round knock-out of dangerous striker Pat Barry, but middleweights Dylan Andrews and Ben Wall, light heavyweights James Te Huna and Anthony Perosh and flyweight Richie Vaculik were all defeated.
UFC Fight Night 33: Hunt vs Bigfoot results
Heavyweight: Mark Hunt and Antonio Silva share a majority draw (48-47, 47-47, 47-47)
Light heavyweight: Mauricio Rua defeated James Te Huna via knock-out (punch) at 1:03 of Round 1.
Light heavyweight: Ryan Bader defeats Anthony Perosh via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-26).
Heavyweight: Soa Palelei defeats Pat Barry via KO (punches) at 2:09 of Round 1.
Middleweight: Clint Hester defeated Dylan Andrews via TKO (doctor’s stoppage due to a dislocated shoulder) at the end of Round 2.
Women’s bantamweight: Bethe Correia defeats Julie Kedzie via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Featherweight: Takeya Mizugaki defeats Nam Phan via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-28)
Middleweight: Caio Magalhaes defeats Nick Ring via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Flyweight: Justin Scoggins defeated Richie Vaculik via TKO (punches) at 4:43 of Round 1.
Middleweight: Krzysztof Jotko defeated Bruno Santos via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27).
Middleweight: Alex Garcia defeated Ben Wall via TKO (punches) at 0:43 of Round 1.