Antonio Silva has not had a fight go the distance in more than three years. | Photo: Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
Roughly six months removed from a crack at the Ultimate Fighting Championship heavyweight crown, Antonio Silva’s hunger has only deepened.
Silva returns to the cage against 2001 K-1 World Grand Prix winner Mark Hunt in the UFC Fight Night 33 main event on Friday at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre in Brisbane, Australia. There, the monstrous Brazilian jiu-jitsu black will look to rebound after failing to unseat heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez at UFC 160 in May. The loss did little to shake Silva’s resolve.
“I have a tough training routine,” he said during a pre-fight interview with UFC.com. “I think that we our professionals and we need to dedicate ourselves to our maximum [ability]. If you want to achieve anything in life, you need to dedicate yourself 100 percent. My training routine is intense: every morning and night, except for Saturdays, when it’s once a day, and on Sunday we rest to start another week.”
Silva has put together a 2-2 record since touching down in the UFC in 2012, scoring wins over former Strikeforce champion Alistair Overeem and Jackson’s Mixed Martial Arts standout Travis Browne while losing only to the aforementioned Velasquez. “Bigfoot” finds motivation in his passion for his job.
“What motivates me to train is that I love what I do,” he said. “I love to fight. I was born to fight. I’ve practiced martial arts since I was 4 years old. I do it because I love it, not for the money, and it’s great to do a sport for the love of it. It’s great to work with what you love, and I love MMA.”
Hunt, like Silva, last fought at UFC 160 in May, when a spinning hook kick from Junior dos Santos brought a dramatic and abrupt end to his four-fight winning streak. The 39-year-old Kiwi made himself a relevant piece in the heavyweight division again with back-to-back finishes against French kickboxer Cheick Kongo and 7-foot Dutchman Stefan Struve. Few pack Hunt’s wallop in the standup department, but Silva sounds like a man who knows where his advantages lie.
“My strategy for this fight is to be well-prepared for all situations,” he said. “Mark is a dangerous opponent and deserves a lot of respect. He’s an excellent striker with very heavy hands. I have to be sharp standing up and good at takedowns if I want to take it to the ground. I also need to have my jiu-jitsu up to date so I can get a submission.”
Silva does not expect the judges to play a part in the outcome.
“We’re two fighters who look for the knockout during the entire fight,” he said. “Mark is tough. He’ll be fighting at home [and] wanting to put on a show for his fans; and I’m coming from a loss and I won’t lose again. I want to fight, and I want to leave that arena victorious to get myself on the path to fight for the title again.”
Change of Scenery
As he turned the corner at age 30, Nam Phan felt the need for a change.
“The Ultimate Fighter” Season 12 semifinalist and former featherweight will downshift to 135 pounds, as he locks horns with Takeya Mizugaki as part of the UFC Fight Night 33 prelims. Phan, a professional since October 2001, can hear the clock ticking on his career.
“I give myself five more years in this sport,” he told Sherdog.com. “I just want to do the best I can while I’m still young.”
Phan’s arrival at 135 pounds will be met by a formidable figure in Mizugaki, who once challenged for bantamweight gold in the World Extreme Cagefighting promotion. The rugged 29-year-old Japanese grinder has rattled off three straight victories, including a split decision over highly regarded prospect Erik Perez at UFC Fight Night 27 in August.
“I just take it one fight at a time,” Phan said. “Where [a win] puts me doesn’t really matter. What’s more important to me than ranking is stacking up wins.”
This & That
UFC Fight Night 33 will be the fifth Ultimate Fighting Championship event held in Australia, joining UFC 110, UFC 127, UFC on FX 2 and UFC on FX 6 ... Once regarded as the world’s premier light heavyweight, Mauricio Rua has not recorded back-to-back wins since he defeated Mark Coleman and Chuck Liddell three months apart in 2009 ... Power MMA Team’s Ryan Bader was a two-time NCAA All-American wrestler and three-time Pac-10 conference champion at Arizona State University ... Tristar Gym export Alex Garcia trains in Montreal, more than 9,600 miles from the Brisbane Entertainment Centre ... Soa Palelei has never gone the distance in his professional career, which covers 22 bouts and dates back more than a decade ... A semifinalist on Season 17 of “The Ultimate Fighter,” Dylan Andrews was the first New Zealander ever to compete on the reality series ... Jackson’s Mixed Martial Arts representative Julie Kedzie graduated from Indiana University with a bachelor’s degree in English ... Born on Nov. 21, 1986, Clint Hester shares a birthday with 13-time MLB all-star Ken Griffey Jr., former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman and NBA hall of famer Earl Monroe ... Nova Uniao’s Caio Magalhaes lists Rickson Gracie as his hero ... Bethe Correia, Justin Scoggins, Krzysztof Jotko, Bruno Santos and Ben Wall are a combined 46-0-1 entering their UFC debuts ... Anthony Perosh is a 10-time Brazilian jiu-jitsu national champion in his native Australia.