There are times in this profession where I have no words to describe what I've just seen.
It doesn't happen often. Most of the time, I feel like I've seen it all.
But then, something will come along and make me realize that there are still great things to see in mixed martial arts. Friday night, that realization came in the form of Mark Hunt and Antonio Silva.
In one of the greatest fights in UFC heavyweight history—and perhaps a top contender for fight of the year honors—Hunt and Silva spent five rounds absolutely battering each other.
They knocked each other down.
They took each other's best punches.
They endured incredible punishment.
They showed enduring heart, continuing to stand and fight.
And, in the end, when the judging scorecards were read aloud by Bruce Buffer, the result was a perfect one: a majority draw. Neither man won, but each emerged with more momentum, fan respect and visibility than they likely would have with a win.
WHAT WE LEARNED
Here's one thing we learned that I never thought we'd see: Mark Hunt executing takedowns. And wrestling. Not just once, but multiple times. And Silva was not able to get Hunt to the ground until late in the fight, when Hunt was exhausted. And yet Hunt often found a way to escape, to work his way back into situations where he had an advantage.
We learned that Hunt and Silva can take almost any kind of punch you throw at them. They may wobble a bit, and they might go down every so often. But mostly, they stand there and take punches and then throw giant bombs of their own.
Hunt, so long derided for not having cardio, certainly tired tonight. But he continued to fight through it, taking large, gasping breaths, waiting for his moment to launch counterattacks that nearly always landed and always hurt Silva.
Silva did the same. He survived a dramatic knockdown. He took a hellacious beating that left him bloody beyond recognition. And yet, he survived. He found ways to continue. How? I have no idea.
If this wasn't the greatest heavyweight fight in UFC history, it's up there. It wasn't the most technical thing in the world. But man, it was the most exciting. It was the kind of fight that makes apathetic fans remember why they started watching mixed martial arts in the first place.
It was also one of the first times I can remember being completely satisfied with a draw. In a sport where judging is so often derided, they got this one right. Silva may have won more rounds, but Hunt did more damage. A draw? That's just about right.
What a night. And what a fight.