"There's three things you need to win this fight," Hunt's corner told him as it worked on his cut. "Heart, heart, heart."
Silva, meanwhile had to be helped from his stool as the crowd roared.
"A tremendous outpouring of support for these fighters, who deserve every ounce of it," Anik said. The two men embraced to start the round. Normally that would drive me insane. Here? It felt right. Especially as they went right back to trying to knock each other's block off.
"This fight is ridiculous," Florian said. He was seemingly reading my mind. Both men continued to throw, but it was Hunt who was getting the advantage of every exchange. A desperate Silva looked for a takedown, but Hunt's underhook game was strong on this night.
Hunt threw a right elbow that, at first glance, seemed to fall just short. Then the blood came in a small stream from Silva's forehead. It had done its job after all. Silva wandered forward, more zombie than man, but four consecutive left hooks by Hunt seemed to shake him from his stupor.
Silva shot and missed another takedown and continued to come up short in each striking exchange. The story of the final round was written in blood. Hunt's was dying his hair pink, but the flow had been staunched. Silva's was decorating his face, a steady stream continuing to obey the law of physics.
"How much more can Silva take?" Anik asked. "There are not many men alive who could take these shots from Mark Hunt," an awed Florian added. At 2:44, with Silva reeling against the cage, referee Steve Percival decided to stop the fight and have the doctor look at the Brazilian's cut.
"There's too much blood," he told he doctor as the crowd booed. "I just can't see what it is."
The doctor signed off on Silva and the action resumed. The big man, however, had received a welcome respite, coming back into the fray with new energy. He renewed his attack on Hunt's leg, trading a low kick for an elbow and left hook. That's not much of an exchange rate.
Silva scored with two big rights, sending Hunt scattering to the cage. That particular confrontation culminated in Silva missing a comically slow flying knee. Considering the men were nearly 23 minutes into a 25-minute fight, it was understandable.
"Exhaustion on both sides," Anik said. "But Bigfoot still trying to finish this fight."
"We are witnessing one of the best fights of the year," Florian added, as Bigfoot continued to work up against the cage, scoring with seven consecutive strikes before Hunt, once again, backed him off with a ridiculously hard left hook.
Yet another elbow followed, but Silva, undeterred, continued forward, on momentum and memory more than anything else. He ate another elbow for his trouble but answered back with a big right knee to the noggin.
With a minute left, the two held each other against the cage, each man's leaning weight holding the other aloft, spent; the well of energy, will and desire they had tapped throughout the fight finally seeming to have reached its bottom.
"Hard to imagine having more respect for two professional athletes than you do right now for Mark Hunt and Bigfoot Silva," Anik said. Neither man, however, was quite done. Silva looked for the Thai plumb until the bitter end. Hunt responded with dirty boxing.
As the bell finally rang, with both men defying the odds and on their feet, they embraced again.
"Bigfoot Silva and Mark Hunt—thank you for that performance," Florian screamed, competing with a crowd that seemed like it might never be silent. "That was insane."
In the end, it was a glorious battle of wills. But it was also a fight that, I thought, had a relatively clear-cut winner. Silva took Rounds 1, 2 and 4. Hunt won Rounds 3 and 5. While a draw may have felt good, objectively this fight belonged to Bigfoot.
Fight Metric Numbers
Significant Strikes: Hunt (53/72), Silva (23/51)
Total Strikes: Hunt (60/79), Silva (39/69)
Takedowns: Silva (0/2)
Barry Foley: 10-8 Hunt
Charlie Keech: 10-9 Hunt
Total: 48-47 (Hunt)
Ron Papaioannou: 10-8 Hunt
Bleacher Report Rewatch Score
Total: 48-47 (Silva)