Mark Hunt and Antonio Silva waged war for 25 minutes. | Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images
Mark Hunt and Antonio Silva will be forever linked by the first 25 minutes they spent locked inside a cage with one another.
The two Ultimate Fighting Championship heavyweights brought out the best in each other for five remarkable rounds, as they battled to a majority draw in the UFC Fight Night 33 “Hunt vs. Bigfoot” main event on Friday at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre in Brisbane, Australia. Hunt carried the scorecard of one judge by a 48-47 count, but two others saw it 47-47. Afterward, no one involved seemed all that disappointed with the ruling or the idea that neither man would exit the Octagon a loser.
Hunt and Silva combined to land 184 significant strikes, the highest total in a heavyweight bout in UFC history, according to FightMetric. Hunt made serious inroads in rounds three and five, where he out-landed Silva 69 to 33 in significant strikes. Silva did his best work in rounds one and four, knocking down Hunt with a clubbing right hand in the first before mounting-and-pounding him in the fourth. By the time it was done, they were cut, bleeding and utterly exhausted.
The effort adds another intriguing layer to the already engrossing story surrounding Hunt’s renaissance. All but forgotten after absorbing five consecutive defeats between July 2006 and September 2010, the 39-year-old Kiwi has resurfaced as a key figure in the heavyweight division; and his performance against “Bigfoot” only enhanced his standing.
Over the past seven years, Silva has lost only to reigning UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez (twice), undefeated American Kickboxing Academy standout Daniel Cormier and two-time Abu Dhabi Combat Club Submission Wrestling World Championships gold medalist Fabricio Werdum. Meanwhile, he has strengthened his resume and staked his claim as one of MMA’s premier heavyweights with decisive victories over Fedor Emelianenko, Alistair Overeem, Travis Browne and Andrei Arlovski.
While the public often balks at the idea of an immediate rematch, it certainly seems to fit here. If nothing else, Hunt and Silva are entitled to a resolution.
In the wake of UFC Fight Night 33, here are five other matchups that ought to be made:
Mauricio Rua vs. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira: Rua quieted those attempting to hurry him into retirement, as the former UFC champion knocked out James Te Huna with a counter left hook 63 seconds into their co-headliner. The popular 32-year-old Brazilian has talked of a possible move to the middleweight division, but if he elects to stay put at 205 pounds, perhaps his long-awaited rematch with Nogueira can finally have its day. “Shogun” won the first bout between the two under the Pride Fighting Championships banner in 2005. They were scheduled to meet again at UFC 161 before a back injury forced Nogueira’s withdrawal.
Ryan Bader vs. Rafael Cavalcante: Power MMA Team’s Bader put what can only be described as a horrific beating on Anthony Perosh, as he cruised to a lopsided unanimous decision in a light heavyweight attraction that was never competitive. “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 8 winner short-circuited Perosh with takedowns and ground-and-pound, out-landing him by a staggering 156-11 margin in terms of total strikes. A 10-time Brazilian jiu-jitsu national champion in his native Australia, the 41-year-old Perosh was barely recognizable after 15 minutes, his battered and bloodied face a testament to Bader’s dominance. Cavalcante, the inconsistent but talented former Strikeforce champion, plowed through Igor Pokrajac with first-round knees and punches at UFC Fight Night 32 in November.
James Te Huna vs. Cyrille Diabate-Ilir Latifi winner: Te Huna probably needs to hit the reset button after being finished in back-to-back bouts with Rua and Glover Teixeira. Submitted by a Teixeira guillotine choke and knocked unconscious by a wicked left hook from “Shogun,” the 32-year-old has burned through much of the equity he had established in consecutive victories over Ricardo Romero, Aaron Rose, Joey Beltran and Ryan Jimmo. Diabate and Latifi will lock horns at UFC Fight Night 37 on March 8.
Soa Palelei vs. Jared Rosholt: Though most see a limited ceiling in Palelei, the monstrous Australian has finished his last 10 opponents, eight of them inside one round. Pat Barry became the latest victim of “The Hulk,” as Palelei struck for a takedown, moved to full mount and pounded away until he lay unconscious 2:09 into the first round of their heavyweight clash. A three-time NCAA All-American wrestler at Oklahoma State University, Rosholt made his promotional debut at “The Ultimate Fighter 18” Finale on Nov. 30, when he recorded a unanimous decision over American Top Team’s Walt Harris.
Bethe Correia vs. Julianna Pena: The undefeated Correia planted her flag in the fledgling women’s bantamweight division, as she outdueled Jackson’s Mixed Martial Arts veteran Julie Kedzie to a split verdict. The 30-year-old Brazilian popped Kedzie with power punches in bursts and delivered a pair of timely takedowns, showing off the tools that earned her a spot on the UFC roster. Pena became the first female “Ultimate Fighter” in UFC history when she stopped Jessica Rakoczy on first-round punches at “The Ultimate Fighter 18” Finale in November.