COMMENTARY | History says it's a no-brainer: Mark "Super Samoan" Hunt and Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva will rematch.Fight fans will crave it. UFC president Dana White will probably arrange it. The TV ratings for a sequel obviously could be monster.
But as much as I thoroughly enjoyed watching both 265-pounders wallop each other for 25 minutes Friday night, pleasantly bewildered and literally jumping out of my chair and yelling at the TV set as both men took turns facing the brink of demise only to come roaring back whenever the end seemed near, as much as I rank this fight as front-runner for 2013 fight of the year, I truly hope there is no encore.
Let's forever leave it at that - a draw. An epic draw. Arguably the most memorable and least controversial draw in MMA history.
My reasoning for this unusual but conscientious stance: Because the two fighters combined to pummel each other with over 300 strikes - roughly two-thirds of them "significant strikes," according to stats provided by FightMetric. Because we witnessed their mutual bloody destruction and constantly wondered, "When is one of them going to fall? How can someone absorb so much punishment and still be standing?!" Because in the past two years Bigfoot has been knocked out or TKO'd three times - and in my opinion Bigfoot would have been stopped a fourth time on Friday night if referee Steve Perceval hadn't exercised poor judgment by temporarily halting the fight in the 5th round to survey a cut that bled profusely on the Brazilian; the referee interrupted the fight just when Hunt was teeing off with punches and Bigfoot wasn't punching back and was on very wobbly legs. The end seemed near. It proved to be terrible timing by the third man in the octagon and an action that allowed Bigfoot precious time to recover and likely altered the outcome of the fight.Another key reason there should be no rematch: Mark Hunt turns 40 in March. I'm especially worried about him at this stage of his career. Throughout 14 years in MMA and pro kickboxing the native New Zealander has logged over 60 pro fights. Renowned throughout his career for a chin that resembles a tank, Hunt still impresses with his remarkable ability to take a punch. But as usually happens with top sluggers, particularly those who habitually hold their hands low as Hunt does, there are mounting signs that his chin is in decline. Hunt absorbed a lot of damage in May at the hands of former UFC heavyweight champ Junior Dos Santos, who finished Hunt with a brilliant spinning heel kick. And now Hunt absorbs another beating against Bigfoot, who dropped him in the first with a punch that I seriously doubt would have felled a younger Hunt.
In fact, it's hard to find another fighter in the heavyweight division - or any weight class in the UFC, for that matter - who has banged with more big punchers than Mark Hunt. There's a reason Mark Hunt's pro MMA record is 9-8-1; one is he for years neglected his ground game. Another is he's fought the biggest punchers in the game during their primes: Wanderlei Silva; Fedor Emelianenko; Mirko "CroCop" Filipovic; Alistair Overeem; Ben Rothwell; Melvin Manhoef; Gegard Mousasi and the aforementioned Dos Santos. Oh, and let's not forget Hunt's storied K-1 career where the former K-1 World Grand Prix champion fought legends such as Jerome Le Banner (four times), Ray Sefo, Semmy Schilt, Brazilian Karate Francisco Filho and Germany's Stefan Leko.
So with the world's growing concern over concussions and head trauma in sports, even with six months rest, do you really think another back-and-forth war with Bigfoot is in the best interest of the humble Australian transplant's brain? And for that matter, do you really think Bigfoot's brain needs to be involved in another fight of the year anytime soon? I mean, I'm not suggesting that either fighter should retire, just that they are so evenly matched that we could easily see another four- or five-round war break out between them. There is no doubt a repeat of their armeggeddon would be of great interest, and perhaps excellently entertaining for fight fans. But will it be in the best interest of the long-term health of these two terminators? The two former sparring partners need a break from each other. Forever. Let your brains heal gentleman. Have your managers ask matchmakers Joe Silva or Sean Shelby if you can fight someone else - preferably someone a little less heavy-handed in the standup department.
I'm sure millions of people will watch a rematch between Hunt and Silva, but I won't be one of them. Friday night's main event produced beautiful art. But it also may have taken years off both men's careers (as serious boxing and MMA fans have witnessed many times over the years, the Ali-Frazier trilogy being one famous example among many). I love this sport - but I also love to see fighters leave the sport some day with all their wits and powers of intelligence. Sometimes discretion is the better part of valor. But when head-hunters such as Mark Hunt and Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva are in the cage all they know is valor. That's the problem if we ever demand of them a rematch.
Frank "Da Tank" Curreri is a world-class Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt and professional journalist who lives in Las Vegas. He previously worked for the Ultimate Fighting Championship, Salt Lake Tribune, Las Vegas Review-Journal and a Fox news affiliate.
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