So the Super Samoan went Squatching and got a hell of a lot more than he was bargaining for I’ll wager. I’ll start off with the obvious. This was beautiful. Poetry in motion if I’ve ever read a sentence in my life. Both men are warriors, and I approach this recap as a privilege. I am truly honored and humbled to have witnessed an apocalyptic conflict the likes of Hunt v. Silva.
"Battle is the most magnificent competition in which a human being can indulge. It brings out all that is best; it removes all that is base."
--George S. Patton
Now that I have appropriately expressed my awe, let’s get to some general observations about the fight. Draw is an acceptable scoring for this match. I need to re-watch to be sure of my own score, but I had it for Silva 48-47 and expected a S/D. I was far too excited to remain objective throughout, so I don’t mind admitting that there was a large margin for error and the fight as a whole was extremely close, though Hunt really ran away with it at the end.
Scoring controversies aside, this was undoubtedly the greatest heavyweight fight I've ever seen. It had EVERYTHING. I was shocked to see how good Silva looked on his feet in the first two rounds. He dropped Hunt with a right hand, wobbled him with leg kicks, and didn't take all that much damage until the 3rd round. He’s never looked better. Jack Slack commented in a piece for Fight Land earlier this week on how much Hunt’s stand-up has improved in recent years, but Silva looks like he’s been training tactically and tirelessly as well. He seems like he’s improved an insane amount from his time in Strikeforce.
I was particularly impressed with his foresight in switching stances, and the amount of time he spent in Southpaw. Hunt definitely seemed like it caught him off guard. He had a lot of trouble deciding which way to circle, and opened him up for Silva to capitalize and steal the first two rounds standing. Did anybody see that coming?
The southpaw stance made Hunt’s cross counter more difficult to land off of Silva’s jab. It created more distance for Bigfoot to potshot from the outside, and allowed him to maintain the distance more easily because of the natural advantages of an open stance. Silva’s distance control during the first two rounds was excellent. His use of the teep and the jab follow up was very impressive, obviously well planned, as well as prepared for.
The other shocker was Hunt’s grappling. He dominated the clinch and implemented a terrifying top game with surprising ease. His takedowns were on point for the most part, save for that costly slip in the 4th round that resulted in him getting pounded on from the top for the better part of 3 minutes. Regardless, I was very impressed that he was able to muscle Silva around in the clinch. Hunt is bull strong. He always has been and we all knew that. Now, I’m forced to acknowledge that his strength is on par with giants. For a man his height, that’s pretty incredible.
By the fourth round both guys were too tired to engage in much of a technical battle, and this became an old school Super Samoan fire fight. A contest of wills between two motherfucking warriors that gave us all the explosive action we could ever want between two world-class heavyweights. This really put the exclamation point on what has thus far been the most incredible year for fight fans that I can ever remember. The UFC has been putting out an insane amount of amazing matches in 2013. It’s a good time to be alive ladies and gentlemen. A damn fine time to be breathing.
In the 5th Hunt’s training, and Silva’s chin, were on full display. Mark was landing hard shots at will, and quite possibly could have achieved the finish if not for that Damnable Steve Perceval interrupting the fight for the cut check. Speaking of Steve, I must have missed something important because the Australian crowd really had it out for this guy. Booing him at every opportunity, what was with that?
But back to Hunt, he found a home for that left hook early and often. As a mental exercise, I tried to envision the fight from behind Bigfoot’s eyes during that final round. My imaginary foray into the cage mostly consisted of freight train strikes raining in from both sides, followed by time delayed cacophonous thunderclaps exploding near the brain-stem one after another. How he stayed on his feet for 5 minutes is a mystery the combined deductive reasoning of Sherlock Holmes, Batman, and Dr. House couldn't solve.
As just one final aside in homage to how great this fight was and my own excitement throughout: I couldn't sit down at all during the 5th round. I was screaming at the top of my lungs, in my stance, moving my head and throwing mock punches. My dogs were both barking at me for being more animalistic than they were. Can we just all take a moment and reflect on how very entertaining these two men have been in their last few fights?
Hunt is the comeback story of a century, stringing together 4 straight wins after losing a consecutive 6 in Pride. Finally halting his momentum was the consensus number 2 heavyweight in the world, JDS, and he still gave Dos Santos more trouble than anyone not named Cain Velasquez ever has. Until Fight Night 33, in fact, I had considered Dos Santos/Hunt the best heavyweight fight ever. Now it’s a distant fucking second.
Silva on the other hand had his success sandwiched between beatings by the ruthless champion. Aside from those missteps, however, he’s consistently been playing up the dark horse angle. Silva’s smashed straight through Travis Browne and Alistair Overeem in vehemently violent fashion. Both fights in which he was a pronounced underdog.
In summation, these two guys are fight fan gift-horses. Don’t think too hard about the scorecards on this one, and just be thankful we’re likely to get a rematch. Checking the gift-horse’s mouth is always ill advised. In this case, eye-contact probably isn't the best plan either.