UFC Fight Night: Mark Hunt vs. Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva is an event just begging to be treated boldly.
With an eclectic mix of slumping veterans and Octagon newcomers—not to mention its unconventional Friday night start time—no one is likely to emerge from this card riding a bullet train to the top. That decided lack of A-list talent, however, does not prohibit a good time, which this show seems scientifically designed to deliver.
Hunt and Silva both roll in on the heels of losses, their momentum stymied and their feel-good stories dashed. Neither guy makes a habit out of going to decision, though, so if you're the sort of fight fan who likes a good, old-fashioned donnybrook, allow this event to be your huckleberry.
Possibilities abound, and Bleacher Report MMA lead writers Chad Dundas and Jonathan Snowden are more than happy to peer into the future lives of all involved. Without further pretense, here are their bold predictions...
Snowden: When Mark Hunt stalks the cage Friday in Australia, there will be plenty of reasons to doubt him. For those who enjoy lists, here's a brief one in five parts:
1. He's old.
2. He's fat.
3. He's bad at grappling.
4. He took a horrendous beating in his last fight.
5. Did I mention the old and fat parts?
And then there's this: Before his late career resurgence, Hunt had lost six consecutive fights. His value had degenerated to the point that UFC matchmaker Joe Silva was willing to simply let him out of his contract, paying him not to fight.
But while the world doubted, Hunt alone believed. Soon, fight after fight, win after win, others joined him. Eventually, we were an army. And while others hit the eject button after his loss to Junior dos Santos, I'm going down with the ship. I believe the big man has another one in him. Who's with me?
Dundas: I was astonished to learn while recording this week’s Co-Main Event Podcast that Bigfoot Silva is favored in this fight (though just barely, at -140).
Sure, he’s obviously the better-rounded fighter here, but two slightly less-than-relevant heavyweights main-eventing a Friday card in the third largest city in Australia? Let’s not pretend anybody is going to fight smart here.
This mean dog has slobberknocker written all over it.
If it goes down the hard way—and I think it will—all the fatness, oldness and bad-at-grapplingness in the world won’t matter at all. At some point, Hunt will uncork one on Silva’s jaw and living rooms across the world will ring out with shouts of “Timber!”
It is written, and so it shall be.
Dundas: Former light heavyweight champion Mauricio “Shogun” Rua hasn’t had an easy go of it as of late, scuffling to a 2-4 record since March 2011, when he lost his title to Jon Jones.
Rua has seemingly been in the game forever (11 years, 30 fights), but he’s only 32 years old. That’s why all will not be lost this weekend, even though he drops an ugly decision loss to James Te-Huna in what we all agree will be the sloppiest, most cardiovascularly challenged fight of the night.
In the end, the 6'2" Te-Huna is just too big for “Shogun,” and that’s why this bout will be Rua’s last in the 205-pound class. Emboldened by Lyoto Machida’s successful 185-pound debut against Mark Munoz back in October, Rua will announce that he's disembarking for middleweight.
Probably where he should’ve been all along.
Snowden: Unfortunately for "Shogun" Rua, a drop in weight classes isn't going to magically repair his poor, battered knees. And it's his bad wheels, more than any size differential or opponent, that have rendered Shogun's career inert.
The truth, barely whispered in Portuguese-tinged English from those close to him, is that Rua is essentially unable to train hard. He has to pick his spots. If he looks soft and doughy in his fights, that's because he is. His body just doesn't seem capable of the cardio work needed to get into the proper shape—or to make the cut to 185 pounds.
That's made every fight a struggle, even against opponents he should have whooped easily, like Brandon Vera.
But surely it hasn't come to this, has it? To the legendary Shogun getting bounced from the 205-pound division by someone named James Te-Huna? I refuse to believe it.
Yes, the clock is ticking on Shogun's fight career. But it's not midnight. Not just yet.
Snowden: There was a time when the UFC unironically called itself "the Super Bowl of Mixed Martial Arts." Only the best of the best dared enter the hallowed Octagon. From top to bottom, cards were stacked with real fighters, either established veterans or prospects, with the potential to matter.
That's certainly not the case anymore. UFC Fight Night 33, airing live December 6 from Brisbane, Australia, will arguably be the most obscure UFC Fight Night of all time. This isn't the Super Bowl of MMA. It's not even the Chick-fil-A Bowl. Bout after bout will send even the hardest of hardcore fans to Wikipedia to look up the athletes.
Five of the fighters don't even have an entry in the online encyclopedia of record.
Krzysztof Jotko? Justin Scoggins? Ben Wall?
Who are you people? Unfortunately, we may never know. We'll have to make up our own backgrounds for the guys.
It will be fun! Jotko is a Polish soldier assigned to battle pirates on the Barbary Coast. Ben Wall is the lost clone of Spider-Man, only the Spider-Man from the ill-fated musical version. Scoggins is the student of Chinese monks, one of whom sacrificed his own life by showing young Justin the infamous death touch.
There are no limits here. These can be the most compelling fighters in UFC history! It's just up to us to make it so. I, for one, can't wait.
Dundas: You’ve never heard of Krzysztof Jotko? Noob!
The 24-year-old native of Elblag, Poland has been the toast of the Eastern European fight scene since his professional debut back in 2010. His epic battles with the likes of Krzysztof Sadecki, Przemyslaw Truszewski and Lukasz Nikolajczyk are considered legenda—nah, you're right; I've never heard of any of these guys, either.
But since I just looked Jotko up on Sherdog (as mentioned above, Jotko is also unknown to Wikipedia), I can tell you those are the actual names of men he’s defeated. I can also tell you that he has a chain-link fence tattoo on one arm and a pretty dope highlight vid on YouTube where the first three highlights are all takedowns.
Heck, though, the kid’s 13-0, so maybe he’s legit. I’m not going to totally bury him just because I’ve never heard of him. There was a time I’d never heard of Jon Jones.
I hear what you’re saying, though, it’s kind of hard to get fired up for a UFC event when you don’t recognize 75 percent of the names on the card. The cure for what ails us could be on the way in the form of the UFC’s new “digital distribution network.” At this point, the company is all but admitting that by this time next year the Jotkos, Scogginses and Walls of the world will be relegated to live stream-only cards it doesn’t actually expect us to watch.
Personally, that suits me just fine.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to get back to the buddy cop comedy pilot I’m developing for Fox. It’s called: Wall and the Scogg-Dogg.
Dundas: There are a lot of things to like about Pat Barry—seems like a delightful individual—but if we’ve learned anything about him over the course of his 11 UFC appearances, it’s that his fights are basically one big coin flip.
The fact that Barry heads into this Friday’s bout against a returning Soa Palelei as a slight betting favorite means nothing. Unless he’s drastically rebooted his strategy, we can expect him to charge out of his corner and engage Palelei in the kind of wild, unpredictable slugfest that has typified (and enabled) his uninterrupted five-year run in the Octagon.
Maybe he’ll even land some good shots, putting victory seemingly within his grasp. Eventually, though, Palelei will put one of those big Christmas hams he calls fists on Barry’s jawline and put him to sleep. The loss will drop him to 5-7 in the UFC, and company brass will take the opportunity to finally, mercifully let Barry go.
No one will celebrate this. Like I said, Barry appears to be one of the sport’s most likeable characters. In the end, though, we’ll all grimace and nod in acquiescence that it was the right thing to do.
Snowden: Somehow I've been able to resist Mr. Barry's prodigious charms. His insistent desire to please is off-putting to me, his smile just a bit too big to be anything but phony.
Barry's "look at me" frat-boy antics seem to play well with the subset of MMA fans who drink their booze in 40-ounce containers and wear their t-shirts just a little too tight. But I'm a man grown. Dancing around in your underwear and dating a teenager? While you're in your 30s? Your hero Pat Barry fits every sketch artist's first outline of a cretin. I'm not in.
Barry wants you to think he's just a big kid, just happy to be here. What I see is a marketing plan, one his skills aren't sufficient to support. As a fighter, he's kind of lousy. For all of Joe Rogan's talk about his K-1 level kickboxing, Barry's been knocked silly by the likes of Shawn Jordan and Lavar Johnson. Last I checked, those guys aren't exactly Tyrone Spong.
Chad is right, though. I won't be celebrating when and if Barry is released. That kind of over-the-top emotion is more Pat's thing. I'll give that moment the attention it deserves—a yawn and a click of the "next story" button.