It was the best UFC Heavyweight fight ever.. It was a performance that made fans & fighters laugh, cry, or scream. It was mocked ruthlessly for two guys who would never survive in a “real sport” like boxing.
Truth be told, everyone who praised & criticized Mark Hunt vs. Bigfoot Silva from UFC’s Brisbane show was right. When it comes to following the truth in life, following the money is often the quickest path. In Las Vegas, the over-under for how long Hunt & Bigfoot was going to last was a round-and-a-half. If you were wise enough to bet on the fight going the distance, you cashed in big as a 10-to-1 underdog regardless of who won or lost the fight.
“A statistical anomaly”
As fight fans watched Mark Hunt & Bigfoot Silva tag each other into oblivion, it was painfully clear that the fight wasn’t going to last long. Bigfoot was destroy Hunt’s left leg with kicks. He was seriously hurt. The man with the head of granite was getting tagged and wobbling. The tank with a low center of gravity was ready to be finished. The fact that the fight made it to the second round was, at best, a 50/50 proposition. Bigfoot poured it and it seemed inevitable that Hunt would go down and go down hard.
Then absurdity arrived. Bigfoot Silva’s gas tank was empty. Mark Hunt’s gas tank was empty. The longer the fighter went on, the slower it got. The slower it got, the bloodier it became. Both men were wide open to get knocked out. Both men throwing in super slow-motion blows that had little impact and yet had a ton of impact because neither man had anything left in the tank. Hunt was throwing wicked elbows. Bigfoot had him trapped against the cage and you were convinced Hunt was going to flop forward. And then Mark Hunt does what Mark Hunt does and proceeded to hammer his way away from the cage in a miraculous Houdini escape act.
Round fight will be one of the most memorable rounds in the history of UFC because of how real, raw, and yet truly comical it was. It was a walking flashback to Forrest Griffin vs. Stephan Bonnar and Dana White screaming at the original TUF cast, “So you want to be a f****** fighter?” Hunt and Bigfoot embraced each other like two old friends at a high school reunion and then promptly swung for the fences. Hunt was getting the better of the exchanges, of which there was mostly distance and lactic acid monster attacks. It is said that fatigue makes cowards out of men but in this fight it was fatigue that simply added another layer to the zombie-like bloodthirsty effort to see which man would be destroyed for good.
While the energy amongst the fans, fighters, and announcers grew exponentially for the climax, the reverse scenario was playing out in the cage. There was simply no more to give. The higher the energy amongst the fans, the lower the energy got for the fighters who could barely stand on their feet. Bigfoot Silva had his chances to finish an opponent and didn’t get the job done. Mark Hunt was trying to survive and live another day while hoping he wouldn’t get knocked on his butt because that would have been a humiliating way to go out on home turf. Round five was truly comical and yet it was entirely fitting for two men who didn’t deserve to lose but didn’t make a strong enough case to win. It was blood and guts… and heart… warts and all.
It was your classic fight between two veteran fighters who will never become UFC Heavyweight champion but will always hang around because they are professionals who are willing to shave off years from their life span in order to test their will and entertain the masses. They may live to regret the damage in a couple of decades, if they can make it to an older age, but living in the moment is what Mark Hunt and Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva represent.
As Bruce Buffer announced the scores, everyone seemed relieved that the decision was a majority draw. Who cheers for a tie? The UFC isn’t soccer and kissing your sister isn’t a celebrated American quality. But for these two headhunters who didn’t know when to quit and could not give any more? A draw was a more than fitting conclusion. Fan demand for a re-match seems strong. It was a dream come true for those in the UFC and Fox Sports 1 to have such a spectacle to talk about for years to come.
Old school vs. new school
If you’ve watched the rise of Mark Hunt in K-1 and PRIDE, then you knew what you were witnessing in Brisbane was nothing new. Bigfoot Silva’s disappointment in not getting the finish will be somewhat comforted by the fact that he met a legend in the cage and stood toe-to-toe with the Samoan Zombie for five hellacious, blood-squirting rounds. We asked ourselves what the hell these guys were thinking while watching the fight and fight fans 20 years later will be asking the same questions. If there was ever a fight to put on a “Best of” UFC bloodbath DVD and have a director’s cut w/ commentary from fighters on what their thought process was during the battle, this fight would be the pièce de résistance.
The reason fighters like Wanderlei Silva & Mark Hunt last for so long is because they don’t over-think their actions during a fight. They go on instinct and fight. Today’s MMA fighter is conditioned for a fight plan and will stick to it regardless of whether or not it’s entertaining. The veteran fighters who were raised outside of the modern UFC ecosystem, like Mauricio Shogun & Mark Hunt, live in the moment. Every fight could be their last fight. It’s why they are still hanging on when others retire at a much earlier age. It’s often the battles between grizzled veterans who aren’t aiming for the belt turn out to be the most memorable encounters of all time. Mark Hunt’s five round display of survival against a more talented, but flawed opponent in Bigfoot Silva was the perfect display of the best and the worst attributes of UFC Heavyweight action in 2013.