UFC Fight Night 33 delivered plenty of "fun" fights and great moments of violence, and it was capped off with a terrific, pulsating main event between Mark Hunt and Bigfoot Silva. If you were to tell me beforehand that Bigfoot/Hunt was going to go the full 5 rounds, I'd have cringed and braced for the worst. Instead, rounds 4 and 5 provided us with high-end drama that we've seldom seen in UFC heavyweight fights whether there's a title on the line or not.
Tim Burke is at World Series of Fighting 7 in Vancouver tonight (which Bloody Elbow will have full coverage of), so I'll be guiding you through this edition of fights to make for last night's main card fighters.
Please note that I'm leaving Julie Kedzie off this list as she announced her retirement, so it's pointless to include her in this piece.
Mark Hunt. You can't understate what Mark Hunt has accomplished over the past few years. He went from losing to Sean McCorkle (badly) to taking the #4 heavyweight in the world to a majority draw. Hunt stuffed all of Bigfoot's takedowns and scored a couple of his own. It's not often you see a 39-year-old improve his game this late in his career, but he's clearly done just that and you have to admire it. Unfortunately for him, he lost in decisive fashion against Junior dos Santos and would be eaten up by Cain Velasquez without too much of a struggle, so "UFC champion" Hunt isn't going to happen. But for the time being he's a viable asset in a weak division, and while I'm sure some fans are screaming "rematch!" after that instant classic, I don't think it's immediately necessary after the brutal beatings they incurred on each other. However, a fight with the winner of Gabriel Gonzaga/Stipe Miocic would be worthwhile, particularly for Miocic who is trying to climb up the ranks of the division.
Antonio Silva. For the first two rounds, Bigfoot looked outstanding both offensively and defensively. He peppered Hunt's lead leg with hard kicks, and did a great job of avoiding Hunt's lunging attacks and maintaining distance. Yes, he was completely destroyed by Cain Velasquez twice and Daniel Cormier, but he's clearly one of the best and toughest heavyweights in the world. The tough part for Bigfoot is that, as mentioned before, he's lost to the champion twice and in non-competitive fashion. There's no justification for a 3rd match, so he better hope Fabricio Werdum can upset Velasquez to have a chance at the title again. So what does that mean for him? I think he either gets Junior dos Santos or Josh Barnett (only if he loses to Travis Browne).
Mauricio Rua. I was dead wrong about Shogun being finished to the point where he couldn't beat James Te Huna. He wiped Te Huna out and became the first man to KO him. Removing all context of the quality of opponents he's faced in the past, I'd say that's the best finish of his UFC career. But let's get serious about Shogun as a contender at 205 lbs - those days are over. He's lost too many fights against top 10 opposition since 2011 for him to be "in the mix". I'd be content with him fighting fringe top 10 guys because that's clearly the level of opposition he's capable of leveling. But since those guys are all booked up, I think he'll headline a Fox Sports 1 card against Rich Franklin (at 205 lbs) as part of Franklin's retirement fight. It's both winnable for Shogun and a good name for Franklin to add to his list of opponents as he closes out his career.
James Te Huna. Ouch. That's the 3rd time in the last 4 fights he's either been knocked down or knocked out, and he left himself wide open for Shogun to snipe him. Light heavyweight is badly lacking depth right now, so options for him are thin. Best available (and favorable) match-up to me is Cody Donovan.
Ryan Bader. Well he didn't KO Perosh like many predicted, but he definitely gave Perosh one hell of a beating. That fight should've been stopped in the 3rd and I can't believe that two judges found no 10-8s to be had in this one. Bader is probably going to jump back into the top 10 because a few LHWs are dropping to middleweight. Phil Davis has not been mentioned for any potential fight recently, so why not do Davis/Bader?
Anthony Perosh. By the time he's healed up from that thrashing I think he'll be ready to face Robert Drysdale (provided he can get licensed and doesn't get caught with elevated testosterone levels again).
Pat Barry. I like Pat Barry. He's an entertaining fighter with a great story, but he's not progressed enough as a mixed martial artist. Palelei steamrolled him on the ground and he's been (T)KO'd 4 times in 2 years. Barry has been in the UFC for 5 years and has never won consecutive bouts, so it might be time to part ways. Alas, if he does get another shot, put him up against Brandon Vera in an absolute "loser gets cut" scenario.
Dylan Andrews. Definitely a heartbreaking way to lose if you're Andrews. It was a likely 19-19 fight heading into round 3 before his shoulder injury resulted in a TKO loss. I see him as a good action fighter and for that reason alone I think (depending on the severity of the injury) he'll start 2014 with a bout against Chris Camozzi.
Clint Hester. Hester is definitely "raw" and needs some heavy work on his ground game, so I don't think he'll get a step up in competition any time soon. I believe he's best served fighting someone like Thiago Perpetuo.
Bethe Correia. Good for her to remain undefeated and win her UFC debut on short notice. With the women's roster filling up nicely the options open up a bit. For now, I think she'll take on TUF 18's Jessamyn Duke.
- WSOF 7: Elvis Mutapcic 'Maximum Fighting is definitely recycling their belts'
- World Series of Fighting 7: Live results and play-by-play
- Invicta FC 7: Main card preview and prophecy - Nakamoto, Esparza, and Honchak
- Report: Matt Brown injured, elects to withdraw from UFC on Fox 9 fight
- Watch the Invicta FC 7 weigh ins on Bloody Elbow