184004015bk032_ufc_fight_ni_crop_north
Getty Images

Mixed martial arts is a thriving passion for the fighting faithful in Australia.

The fanbase has grown to become one of the most lively collectives across the globe, and on Friday night (Saturday for them), the UFC returned for UFC Fight Night 33. It was the promotion's first visit to Brisbane and the first time the Octagon had rolled through Australia in a year.

With a market hungry for action-packed combat, what better way to mark a return than with two of the game's heaviest hitters in Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva and Mark Hunt? Despite both fighters coming off recent losses, the matchup featured two men who were eager to get back into the title hunt in the heavyweight division.

Silva came into the bout one fight removed from a title opportunity, where he was drubbed by champion Cain Velasquez at UFC 160 in May. Silva was looking to get things back on track against the former K-1 champion.

Screenshot2013-12-06at11
Getty Images

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. 

Usatsi_7416644_crop_north
USA Today

Heading into his next tilt against Anthony Perosh this weekend at Fight Night 33, Ryan Bader has his mind set on getting back into the upper-tier of the UFC light heavyweight division.

The Ultimate Fighter season eight winner has been on somewhat of a roller coaster since he suffered the first loss of his professional career to future champion Jon Jones at UFC 126 in 2011. In the aftermath of the setback, the former Arizona State University wrestling standout has experienced mixed results as he's attempted to regain his footing in the competitive ranks of the 205-pound fold.

The 30-year-old has stepped into the Octagon on six occasions since his fight with "Bones" and found victory in three of those showings. While his efforts haven't produced the results he had been working toward, that hasn't stopped the Power MMA leader from sticking to the task at hand. He has his mind set on becoming a title contender in the light heavyweight division and his bout against Perosh on Friday night will present an opportunity for him to take the first step back toward title contention.

While the chaotic world of competing on the sport's biggest stage can be an all encompassing situation and requires his mind to be completely focused, the father of two has continued to progress in his efforts to support the United States military.

Hi-res-7285970_crop_north
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Josh Thomson won't deny there is a chip on his shoulder. And it's been there for quite some time.

The AKA staple and top-ranked lightweight has hovered in the conversation as one of the best 155-pound fighters in the world for the past decade. Yet, where his record and résumé reflect a body of work that commands respect, there is a subtle tell in the way he shifts slightly in his seat when the topic of his current situation comes up.

Make no mistake about it, the 35-year-old doesn't flinch when the subject of his upcoming bout with Benson Henderson next month at UFC on Fox 10 is posed, nor does he hesitate to share his feelings on how a title shot against Anthony Pettis eluded him. Those questions he answers with a tempered measure of excitement and clear-eyed reasoning; in a manner an 11-year veteran of the fight game would. That said, when the finer details of the path he's traveled for the past decade are put on the table, there is a different side of Thomson that comes to light. 

In a typical conversation with the former Strikeforce champion, a joke or levity is always at the ready, but when it comes time to focus on the steps taken to reach the point he now stands, a grittier side to the current contender breaks through. While he's enjoyed success at a high rate and earned championship recognition along the way, Thomson pulls no punches when he explains the route he eventually had to travel wasn't the one he would have chosen.

Mmaufc135huntrothwell_crop_north
AP Images

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... 

Usatsi_7086270_crop_north
USA Today

Everyone loves a hot take. And, per our contracts, here at Bleacher Report the takes are always sizzling.

But if you've ever ventured into the comments section, you know we have nothing on you guys. Readers say the darnedest things—so we solicited your boldest statements in a new feature we are calling MMA Tweet-O-Rama.

Our three lead writers put out a Twitter call for your thoughts, and boy did you all deliver. Each of us picked our two favorites and then the chaos commenced, roundtable style.

This time out, we talk trash about your beloved Pride Fighting Championship, combat some gentle sexism and talk about the mighty Nate Diaz. To play along next time, you'll need to follow us on Twitter: JonathanJeremy and Chad.

Usatsi_6880512_crop_north
USA Today

For a long time now, UFC fans have known a tough decision loomed on the horizon.

As the fight company continued to expand its calendar of live events from one year to the next, we understood that eventually we’d have to make some hard-and-fast choices about what to watch and what to miss.

The day was coming that you wouldn’t be able to catch it all, not if you had a family, a job or a life away from your television.

Luckily, it now seems the UFC may have made that decision for us. Last week’s announcement that 2014 could see a near 50 percent increase in the number of events came with a potentially game-saving caveat.

Usatsi_6452244_crop_north
USA Today

Hey guys, it's fight week. 

Actually, there's no such thing as fight week any more. It's just one long stretch of fight weeks, pressing out into the distance with no end in sight. And sometimes, that's going to be terrible. But sometimes—take this week's UFC Fight Night event from Australia, for example—that's going to be just fine with me.

This card—which airs on Friday night in North America but takes place Saturday in Australia (you do the math; it makes my head hurt just thinking about it)—has been flying under the radar. That's what happens when you put on too many events; the good stuff gets overlooked. But I like this card a lot, especially from a gambling perspective. There are at least two fights where I think the underdog should be a massive favorite, giving me an opportunity to make some serious cash. 

So let's take a look at the card, shall we? I've got the lines for all five main card fights, with some analysis and my recommended plays for each.

Ben-askren1_crop_north
BellatorMMA

The discouraging nosedive that is Ben Askren’s free agency may have reached terminal velocity this week, with rumors that the former Bellator champ will ditch our whole continent to sign with OneFC.

OneFC? I mean, now he’s just messing with us.

At least one better option was emphatically crossed off the list over the weekend, when Dana White emerged from a meeting with Askren only to reiterate that the UFC had declined to tender him an offer, at least for now.

“The meeting went well,” White told MMA Junkie.com’s John Morgan prior to the TUF 18 finale. “He's a nice kid, I've got nothing against him ... (but) we won't be signing him at this time.

Rorymacdonald_crop_north
USA Today

There is an art to matchmaking in combat sports.

While some fights come together with natural ease, most bouts are formed through a hectic process of evaluation. Several aspects need to be graded on each side of the table before committing to the matchup.

Whether or not a fight makes sense in the divisional scheme, timing and making sure both fighters stand to gain similar rewards are the most pressing issues that come to mind. Then, of course, there is the most important aspect of a potential fight: Will both competitors be willing to mix it up and put on a show?

The unfortunate part of the process comes when all of these criteria are met and the fight fails to deliver. That said, the UFC showcases far more exciting tilts than flat fights these days, which goes to show just how good Joe Silva and Sean Shelby are at their jobs.