Mark Hunt has won four of his last five fights. | Photo: Taro Irei/Sherdog.com
UFC Fight Night 33 marks the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s first trip Down Under in a year. The promotion is rewarding its Australian fan base for its patience by featuring two of the sport’s most beloved stars -- Mark Hunt and Mauricio “Shogun” Rua -- at the top of the card.
Hunt takes on former No. 1 contender Antonio Silva in the heavyweight headliner, while Rua locks horns with hard-hitting kiwi James Te Huna in the co-main event. Whether they win or lose, both men are known for providing high-quality violence in the Octagon. UFC Fight Night 33 on Friday at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre in Queensland, Australia, figures to be no different.
Here is a closer look at the card, with analysis and picks:
Sherdog Fantasy MMA: UFC Fight Night 33 Free Fan Pick’Em
HeavyweightsMark Hunt (9-8, 4-2 UFC) vs. Antonio Silva (18-5, 2-2 UFC)
The Matchup: Hunt’s unlikely journey to title contention ended in May, courtesy of a Junior dos Santos spinning hook kick at UFC 160. Hunt absorbed a great deal of punishment in the loss, but even his chin was not able to withstand the Brazilian’s onslaught. A serious staph infection left a gruesome hole in Hunt’s leg shortly thereafter, but the New Zealand native was able to maintain a charming air of nonchalance about the entire ordeal. Still, coming back from such an injury is no small feat, and one must wonder if he will suffer any lingering effects upon his return to the Octagon.
Silva, meanwhile, saw his title dreams dashed by Cain Velasquez on that very same card; it was his second lopsided defeat to the American Kickboxing Academy product in a year.
While the massive Brazilian’s resume includes impressive victories over the likes of Fedor Emelianenko, Alistair Overeem and Travis Browne, his flaws, namely a lack of speed and athleticism, remain the same.
While dos Santos was able to get the best of Hunt thanks to superior movement, feints and volume, the lumbering “Bigfoot” can only hope that he will be able to connect with one of his massive right hands when the two are standing. Silva’s eight-inch reach advantage will mean little in exchanges, however. Hunt, a former K-1 standout, has grown more technical with age and should have little difficulty getting inside against his larger opponent.
Hunt is adept at baiting his opponent into slugfests, although adapting to the various elements of MMA has forced him to often utilize a more counter-heavy approach in the UFC. Even then, his cast-iron chin gives him the confidence needed to absorb a few shots in order to land one of his own. Hunt is a master at getting his foes to chase him, giving him the opportunity to land his counter left hook or right cross. Additionally, his uppercut can serve as a solid weapon for opponents looking to take him down.
While Silva has undeniably heavy hands, his lack of speed and deliberate nature make standing and trading a dubious avenue to pursue against a striker as skilled as Hunt. The American Top Team representative is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt with a heavy top game, while Hunt has never been known for his takedown or submission defense. Silva must look to neutralize Hunt’s knockout power by tying him up against the fence and dragging him to the mat. If he can achieve top position, the Brazilian should be able to advance position with ease and work for a TKO or submission.
However, Silva’s wrestling is subpar, and his lack of quickness means he will likely have to absorb some heavy fire to ground Hunt.
The Pick: Hunt’s age and recovery from a recent staph infection are a concern, but so is Silva’s chin. “The Super Samoan” wins via KO or TKO in round one or two.
Next Fight » James Te Huna vs. Mauricio Rua