UFC Fight Night 33: Antonio Silva vs. Mark Hunt Head-to-Toe Breakdown
Antonio Silva came nowhere near capturing the heavyweight championship during his first shot at a UFC title in May. However, Silva has only been beaten by titleholder Cain Velasquez during his stay with the world's top MMA organization, proving he's one of the best in the world.
Currently ranked No. 4 among heavyweight contenders, Silva will try to maintain his place in the top five when he meets Mark Hunt in the main event of UFC Fight Night 33.
Hunt rose into title contention during 2013, winning four straight fights. However, in a May bout opposite Junior dos Santos, Hunt ran into a rare opponent who was capable of striking with him.
While a knockout loss to dos Santos set Hunt back, he has a chance to rebound in a big way against Silva on Friday in Australia.
Ahead of this important heavyweight matchup, here is a closer look at how Silva and Hunt match up in all areas.
Striking: Silva Offense vs. Hunt Defense
Antonio Silva is not among the more technical strikers in the heavyweight division.
However, he's still a heavyweight, and that means he only needs to land once to bring a fight to an end. Silva was well behind in a fight with Alistair Overeem in February, but he came out firing in the third round and stopped the K-1 champion with a barrage of punches.
Silva can hardly depend on his knockout power against Hunt, another high-level kickboxer who is difficult to finish.
However, Hunt isn't afraid to get into brawls and has gotten hit equally as often as Overeem inside the Octagon, with both heavyweights defending 56 percent of opponent strikes. In the past, Hunt has more than survived when standing with big heavyweights, but he may want to be cautious against Silva.
Striking: Hunt Offense vs. Silva Defense
Offensively, Antonio Silva is able to get away with his lack of technical striking by possessing unreal power. Defensively, Silva's size hasn't helped him much in past fights.
Silva defends only 38 percent of strikes thrown at him. That makes his striking defense more porous than any of Mark Hunt's UFC opponents.
Against a striker like Hunt, who is able to throw every punch with both power and accuracy, Silva simply can't get touched so frequently. If he does, Hunt should be able to finish this fight quickly and violently.
Takedowns: Silva Offense vs. Hunt Defense
Antonio Silva has been lucky to pick up two UFC wins without scoring any takedowns.
Alistair Overeem's apathy and a Travis Browne injury played big roles in Silva's knockout victories inside the Octagon. In order to win on Friday, Silva is likely going to need to take Mark Hunt down.
While he's best on the ground, Silva isn't great at taking opponents down. He hasn't scored a takedown since his memorable win over Fedor Emelianenko in February 2011.
Like most heavyweights, Silva scored a majority of his takedowns from the clinch. However, the Brazilian's lumbering footwork doesn't help him close distance. That's especially true against good movers like Hunt, who is much more susceptible to double-leg takedowns than clinch takedowns.
If he gets his hands on Hunt, Silva will be able to take this fight to the ground. The trouble is that, with the holes in his striking defense, Silva may not have much time to figure out how to close the gap.
Takedowns: Hunt Offense vs. Silva Defense
Surprisingly, Mark Hunt has scored four takedowns in his six UFC appearances.
While Hunt's wrestling may be overlooked, takedowns are still always an afterthought in his game plans. The chances of The Super Samoan shooting in on a grappler like Antonio Silva are very slim.
Silva does have holes in his takedown defense, being taken down on 50 percent of opponent attempts, but it'd be foolish to think Hunt takedowns would be a deciding factor in this matchup.
Hunt is going to stand and try to end this thing early.
Grappling: Silva Top vs. Hunt Bottom
Although he hasn't shown it inside the Octagon, Antonio Silva is at his best when raining down ground-and-pound from the top position.
One of the toughest heavyweights going, Mark Hunt is more susceptible to submissions than ground-and-pound. Still, a good top game is nearly a must against Hunt unless you're one of the very best heavyweight strikers in the world.
Silva may prefer to throw strikes from the top, but the jiu-jitsu black belt is also more than capable of forcing The Super Samoan to tap with a submission.
Although he's done a good job of preventing submissions lately, Hunt hasn't been stuck under a grappler like Silva recently. With six of his eight career losses coming via submission, Hunt needs to avoid being taken down on Friday.
Grappling: Hunt Top vs. Silva Bottom
Again, working from the top is not going to be in Mark Hunt's game plan heading into this matchup. Anything can happen in the heat of battle, but Hunt should be keeping space between himself and Antonio Silva at all times.
Hunt has taken other UFC opponents to the ground, but his takedowns led to a submission loss to Sean McCorkle and being swept by Stefan Struve in March.
The risks heavily outweigh the rewards of Hunt working from the top position against Silva. While Silva has been stopped with ground-and-pound, Hunt can't put himself in a spot where Silva has the ability to sweep and land on top.
Neither of these heavyweights is going to win a marathon, but both have had some success in the later rounds during their careers.
Antonio Silva's most recent win came in a third-round comeback against Alistair Overeem. Similarly, Mark Hunt was able to finish Stefan Struve during the final stanza of their meeting at UFC on Fuel TV 8.
Like conditioning, ring rust shouldn't be a factor in this matchup. Silva and Hunt both last appeared at UFC 160 in May, so they should be equally refreshed after six-month layoffs.
This fight provides Mark Hunt with a good chance to burst into the Top 10 following a loss to former heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos.
Antonio Silva presents big problems for Hunt on the ground, but he's not great at finding ways to drag his opponents to the canvas. If Hunt uses his footwork and avoids missing badly with an overzealous punch, he should be able to keep distance and remain standing.
While Silva's power can't be ignored, a stand-up bout with Hunt is the last thing he wants. Hunt is too good a striker to not take advantage of the holes in Silva's defense when standing.
If Silva doesn't score a takedown in the first couple of minutes before Hunt starts opening up, it'll be lights out for the Brazilian.
Hunt defeats Silva by (T)KO in the first round.
Statistics via FightMetric.com.