Heavyweight Antonio Silva
Can you hear, I say, can you hear the thunder?
I can. And when it loudly crashed across the face of UFC Fight Night 33 in Australia, do you know what I did? I ran, is what I did. And I took cover.
Metaphorically, anyway. What I actually did was watch, and I'm pleased I kept my faculties about me. Because from the heavyweight main event of Mark Hunt and Antonio Silva all the way down to the first preliminary fight, this event was a powder keg of combat violence just waiting for the match.
Happily for fans, the pyrotechnics did arrive. Fighting before a very supportive Brisbane crowd, Aussies and outsiders alike brought more than matches. They were packing oxyacetylene.
All told, the evening saw six knockout victories and several more exciting fights that went the distance. But the final stat lines tell only a part of the story. Who really brought the thunder at Fight Night 33? Don't take cover. Just smile, have some of this vegemite sandwich and tuck in to the real winners and losers.
Cheers to Tristar Gym's Alex Garcia who, in the first fight of the night and in his UFC debut, absolutely flattened Ben Wall to set the tone for the evening.
A highly inhumane right uppercut was the punch that did it. Just 43 seconds into the first round and it was over. You have to feel good for Garcia, a 26-year-old welterweight who has long been considered one of the division's best prospects. Props also go to Wall, though, typically a lightweight who took the fight on short notice.
Jeers to Krzysztof Jotko for sucking the win right back out of the sails in a snoozer second fight. I know you're a grinder and all, Jotko. But I'm trying to build a theme here. Throw me a bone, buddy.
I guess I can't be too mad, given that he just won his UFC debut and is undefeated and only 24 years old and all. But on second thought, yes I can.
On a card lousy with highlight moments and excellent scraps, it took a special effort to stand out as a Fight of the Night candidate. Nam Phan and Takeya Mizugaki did just that with their back-and-forth undercard slugfest.
Mizugaki took the unanimous decision, but Phan gave his opponent all he could handle. A great bantamweight tilt and just more proof positive that the mighty thunderbolt isn't wielded exclusively by the giants of the game.
Correira (left) and Kedzie fight.
Bethe Correia trains with the Pitbull brothers, Patricio and Patricky Freire. You could see a strong resemblance Friday night.
The main card began with a women's bantamweight bout, and it didn't disappoint. Correia and Julie Kedzie both were aggressive and landed plenty of stuff, but in the final round Correia pulled away, out-volumizing the veteran and scoring a takedown for good measure. If you believe in things like the FightMetric statistics, Correia had a clear edge in the opening and closing frames.
Great win for Correia in her Octagon debut. She's now 7-0. Meanwhile, Kedzie could be dunzo in the UFC with her fourth straight defeat and an 0-2 UFC run.
Soa Palelei's nickname is "The Hulk." Superhero nicknames often smack of empty hype (or self-conferred grandeur). But you know what? I'm good with this one. Mainly because there's no chance I'm going to tell Palelei anything to make him...right.
Palelei, a monster of a man who makes a significant weight cut to fight as a heavyweight, took down the wrestling-deficient Pat Barry early and often in the first round. Then, in an interesting twist, while they were on the ground, Palelei pounded him. And it took precious few shots to end it. Perhaps not surprising, given the way each Barry's head bounced up and down like a speed bag with each punch.
That's 20-3 overall now and 2-of-2 (both knockouts) in this UFC run for The Hulk. Looks like the Australia native is a real—SMASH—thus far inside the Octagon.
Pat, I love you, man. What UFC fan doesn't love you? But I have some things you need to hear.
First off, you need to learn how to grapple. I'm not saying you have to be Demian Maia. But you have to be something, at least if you want to be viable at this level of MMA. Palelei was utterly unconcerned about your takedown defense or your guard, and you justified it and then some.
Second, that was your third loss in your past four tries. That puts you at 2-5 in your past seven contests and 5-7 as a UFC employee. I'm not sure there has ever been a more famous 5-7 UFC employee. But you need a win, man. It's starting to feel like your reach is exceeding your grasp here, if you know what I mean.
You may be wondering what of this, if any, makes you a winner. Well, I'm glad you asked, because that segues nicely into my third point. After that beating Friday night, you may not be able to get on a plane for a while. And if that's the case, free vacation! Australia's got to beat the pants of Colorado this time of year.
Hand it to the old man. He is tough as nails. And at age 41, the Croatian-Australian is exceeding expectations and statistical probabilities every time he puts in a mouthpiece.
Ryan Bader is plenty likable in his own right, but rooting for Anthony Perosh is like rooting for ice cream or a baby seal. You can't not do it. So you tip your cap to Perosh, who was on the business end of a brutal bloodletting Friday night. It was downright hard to watch in spots. Bader, aggressive almost throughout, looked great. Perosh looked 41.
Fans (and probably the UFC, which knows a good storyline when it sees one) will probably be quick to let Perosh back into its collective good graces. Perosh's brain pan? Maybe not so much.
He's old. He's flabby. He's got no knees. He's got no pop on his strikes. He'd be better off at middleweight. He'd be better off not fighting.
Plenty of bad stuff hurtling Shogun Rua's way coming into the event. And by no means was that stuff unjustified, either. But at UFC Fight Night 33, Shogun turned on it the way a slugger turns on a 95 mph fastball. He turned on it the way he turned on a charging James Te-Huna, landing a crisp counter left hook that turned the legs of the favored man to bendy straws.
He turned on all the criticism and knocked it all straight out over the wall in dead center. Who knows if the notoriously inconsistent Rua can do it again? Who knows what, if any, of the criticism will resurface, or was even actually disproved? Those are questions for another day. Let the Hall of Famer have his due. The man found his stroke Friday night, and it was a beautiful thing to watch.
This has been a pretty darn good year for MMA in terms of slobber-knocking, back-and-forth bloodbath fights. Sanchez-Melendez, Jones-Gustafsson, St-Pierre-Hendricks and Cain-Junior 3 right off the top of my head.
Feel free to add Mark Hunt vs. Antonio Silva to the short list. Usually a majority draw feels like an unsatisfying outcome. But in this case, it made sense.
It was a five-round war, with two of the most powerful heavyweights of this or any era wailing on each other for 25 minutes with no let-up. Both men were hurt, but they remained standing just so they could come back and throw one more haymaker, in hopes that next one would be THE one.
Before a delirious crowd, they traded punches, knees, elbows, leg kicks, partridges and pear trees. They exhausted and bloodied each other. It was one of those fights where you couldn't tell whose blood was whose at the end.
I'm really not sure what else to say. I just tip my cap to both men for that effort. Seriously. Thanks, fellas.
I wasn't sure what Silva would do against Hunt. Perhaps he'd try some jiu-jitsu given Hunt's deficient ground game? Perhaps he'd use his reach to keep Hunt at bay?
Somewhat the latter, certainly not the former. Silva stood and slugged with the former professional kickboxer. He knocked down and was knocked down. And evidenced by the cards, he gave as good as he got.
A true Fight of the Year candidate. No losers in this one literally or figuratively, especially in the blood-hungry UFC environment, where this kind of performance can cinch up your career prospects for as long as you want them to be cinched.
In today's more enlightened world, it's hard to watch a fight like that without wondering about the brain damage being wreaked. It's undoubtedly a strange and sad thing to ponder. But in the moment, that knowledge made their physical sacrifice, and the pure combat sports quality that resulted, all the more inspiring.
Takeya Mizugaki defeated Nam Phan by decision at UFC Fight Night 33.
Mark Hunt vs. Antonio Silva, Majority Draw
Mauricio Rua def. James Te-Huna by KO, 1:03, Rd. 1
Ryan Bader def. Anthony Perosh by unanimous decision
Soa Palelei def. Pat Barry by KO, 2:51, Rd. 1
Clint Hester def. Dylan Andrews by TKO (injury), 5:00, Rd. 2
Bethe Correia def. Julie Kedzie by split decision
Takeya Mizugaki def. Nam Phan by unanimous decision
Caio Magalhaes def. Nick Ring by unanimous decision
Justin Scoggins def. Richie Vaculik by TKO, 4:43, Rd. 1
Krzysztof Jotko def. Bruno Santos by unanimous decision
Alex Garcia def. Ben Wall by knockout, 0:43, Rd. 1
Scott Harris is a writer for Bleacher Report MMA. For more arbitrary evaluations and all sorts of other things you simply cannot find elsewhere on the Internet, follow Scott on Twitter.