They’re likely to be pretty quiet about it now, but there were those who weren’t very interested in last Friday’s classic “slugfest” of a bout between Mark Hunt and Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva (pictured above) at UFC Fight Night 33 in Brisbane, Australia.
Some fans felt that Mark Hunt had been knocked out of the rankings of the MMA world’s top ten heavyweights with his KO loss to Junior Dos Santos back in May. Others point to Hunt’s unfortunate record, which is really the result of beginning an MMA career with the PRIDE FC at Japanese MMA’s peak. For his part, Silva was listed among most ranking system’s top ten heavyweights, but could only boast a 2-3 record in his last five bouts. He has also continued to endure controversy since a failed 2008 drug test.
So, back when it was announced, some fans described the fight between Silva and Hunt as irrelevant, even “worthless.”
In fact, you could say that initially, Hunt and Silva themselves weren’t too thrilled about the match.
“When I got the offer to fight Hunt, I knew that he initially declined the bout, he asked to fight someone else, and so did I,” Silva told MMA Fighting back in September.
Hunt, who was born in New Zealand but calls Australia home, and Silva, who was born and raised in Brazil but has relocated to the US to further his career, were training partners at American Top Team in Florida.
“Not that we are big friends, but we trained together and helped each other this year,” Silva continued. The two sparred in preparation for Silva’s fight with Cain Velasquez back in May.
Still, when offered the chance to serve as headliners in the UFC’s only trip to Australia this year, the two agreed: it was too good an opportunity to pass up.
“I like the guy,” Silva admitted. “He’s really cool, but we’re professionals and that’s part of the job.”
We all know now: what a job it was.
I expected a good bout, but predicted Silva to have an advantage and ultimately record a stoppage victory.
I… was close. The action was good from the start, with the crowd cheering on their adopted son. Silva dropped Hunt to the canvas several times — but that finish never quite materialized.
Hunt and Silva battled it out for five grueling rounds in what would be scored a “Majority Draw.” Hunt had more than his share of highlights along the way, with many observers calling him the rightful victor of the bout.
Some describe the fight as the greatest heavyweight bout in UFC history.
Afterwards, Silva posted to his Instagram page: “Thank you Mark Hunt for the insane fight last night.. I wish the best for you,” along with a Portuguese translation, and a picture of the two embracing after the bloody brawl. He would remark, “I love my job.”
The naysayers? They’re quiet now. (To be fair, some of them made a good point or two before the fight.)
But then, that’s the magic of MMA. The fights don’t happen on paper. They happen on the mats — and on the canvas last Friday, Mark Hunt and Antonio Silva painted themselves a classic.
Front-Page Photo Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports