Opinion: Brazil Beckons

By Mike Sloan Dec 9, 2013
Mark Hunt and Antonio Silva engaged in an epic battle at UFC Fight Night 33 | Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images



Contrary to the popular belief of the casual fan, heavyweights rarely if ever put on phenomenal fights. Because of the great heavyweight boxing kings of yesteryear, people have been unintentionally blinded when looking back at the past, but for every terrific showdown between the big boys, there are about 400 that are as forgettable as the current cast of “Saturday Night Live.”

Fortunately for the rabid fight fans who tuned into UFC Fight Night 33 on Friday, two combatants from the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s heavyweight division delivered not just one of the best bouts in the history of the organization but one of the most entertaining battles in all of combat sports over the past decade. Granted, labeling the epic duel between Mark Hunt and Antonio Silva as the greatest in the history of mankind seems a bit of a stretch, but it will live on for ages in the memory vaults.

The way they waged war against one another at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre in Brisbane, Australia, was something to behold. That Hunt and Silva were able to endure exchange after vicious exchange was a testament to their physical toughness and mental fortitude. Hunt was rocked and bloodied first, but the 2001 K-1 World Grand Prix winner demonstrated the sort of resolve for which he has become revered and eventually turned the tide. “Bigfoot” was felled and almost finished in the third round, but the American Top Team representative weathered the onslaught and reversed roles in the fourth.

Then there was the final five-minute stretch that saw Silva give his best impression of the late Arturo Gatti in the ninth round of his all-time classic war with Micky Ward. How “Bigfoot” survived the entire fifth round and how those lethal punches from Hunt did not separate him from consciousness is beyond comprehension. Yet, at the end of it all, there Silva stood, albeit on unsteady legs, looking like a much larger male version of Sissy Spacek in the seminal prom scene from the 1976 horror classic “Carrie.”

The fight was justifiably declared a draw, which leaves only one option for the UFC, Hunt and Silva: a rematch. The only issues involve when and where to put it together.

Hunt and Silva will need several months to recuperate. Once both men are healed, do they meet in an immediate rematch? It is a tricky situation, because the longer it takes for them to lock horns inside the Octagon again, the more the suspense will build and the more the fans will covet it. However, if Hunt and Silva are given “tune-up” bouts, the UFC runs the risk of one of them losing, thus further delaying a potential rematch.

The other sticking point involves location. Since their first encounter was held in the backyard of “The Super Samoan,” the only logical spot for Hunt-“Bigfoot” 2 to take place is in Silva’s native Brazil. After all, fair is fair. Should a rubber match ever be needed, drop it in Las Vegas.

The only real drawback to a rematch is that it will be virtually impossible for Hunt and Silva to meet expectations. While there are exceptions -- see Eddie Alvarez-Michael Chandler 2 -- rematches are rarely as entertaining as their predecessors, so we could conceivably wind up with a disappointing sequel. Then again, I watched Rafael Marquez and Israel Vazquez wage three consecutive wars against one another, each better than the one before it. Why can’t Hunt and Silva replicate the magical violence they created Down Under?

Follow Mike Sloan at www.facebook.com/mikesloan19 and www.twitter.com/mikesloan19.

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