Mark Hunt vs. Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva:
Mike Drahota: Hunt dropped out of the rankings after his incredible loss to Junior dos Santos back in May, but I don’t think he’s that far behind the number four-ranked Silva. “Bigfoot” has benefited in the Octagon from his opponents’ mistakes, capitalizing on a Travis Browne injury and Alistair Overeem’s complete lack of focus and conditioning. When he faced a focused Cain Velasquez who was ready to go to war, he got knocked out twice in the first round. Hunt has been dealing with some injuries but he seems to have weathered the storm quite well. “Bigfoot” isn’t known for having the most solid chin, and that’s going to hurt him here. Mark Hunt via knockout in the first round.
Rory Kernaghan: Mark Hunt once again has the opportunity to catapult himself in to title contention, this time against the number four in the division; Antonio ‘Bigfoot’ Silva. The match has first round finish written all over it, and I think Hunt will be dishing out the KO. Hunt’s chin is not infallible, but I feel that he has the edge in durability and also the striking department. My prediction is that Hunt wins his comeback bout by devastating left hook in round one.
Brian Cox: “Bigfoot” Silva is a huge guy to say the least. Going into the Octagon against Mark Hunt, Silva will have six inches in height advantage, as well as having eight inches in reach over “The Super Samoan”. Bigfoot also has an advantage on the mat should the fight end up on the ground. However, he is not the fastest fighter out there, nor is he the heaviest hitter. Furthermore, he is not renowned for his chin. And what Silva brings to the table in height, reach and ground, Hunt has seen and dealt with before. Hunt has demonstrated improving ground skills and may be difficult to submit, stop, or control. My prediction on this fight is that Hunt will bully Silva against the cage, exhaust him and then drop “Bigfoot” in the middle of the cage. Mark Hunt, by way of second round KO.
Buster Evans: First of all, I cannot believe that Hunt is the underdog coming into this fight. Really? This is without doubt the “The Super Samoan’s” fight to lose. Silva may be far superior on the ground but he has to get the fight there. Hunt has shown improved takedown defence in his last few fights. Believe it or not Hunt also has better wrestling stats in the UFC. On the feet this will be a one-sided beat down. Hunt’s hands plus Bigfoot’s gigantic chin = Mark Hunt via knockout in round 1.
Mauricio “Shogun” Rua vs. James Te Huna:
Mike Drahota: Former champ “Shogun” has been on a downward trend as of late, dropping three out of his past four bouts. His striking is apparently progressing to new levels, but he never got even close to a chance at showing that against Chael Sonnen. Rua has been through many wars and they may be beginning to take a toll on his body. Te Huna, on the other hand, has quietly won five out of his seven total UFC bouts. He’s a powerful striker who has never been knocked out himself. This bout is going to show if “Shogun” can still compete with the best in the world. It’s close, but I’m going with Shogun via split decision.
Rory Kernaghan: Mauricio “Shogun” Rua has his back against the wall against a hungrier opponent in James Te Huna. JTH likes to stand and bang and doesn’t have much of a submission game to speak of. Rua’s chin is very tough, and obviously being a Chute Box product he knows how to strike. We saw a depleted version of Shogun against Chael Sonnen, and Te Huna was finished in round one against Glover Teixeira, so it all depends on which fighter shows up more prepared. My opinion is a Shogun decision after a FOTN performance.
Brian Cox: This is a make-or-break fight for Rua in terms of relevance in the light heavyweight division. “Shogun” is on a two-fight losing streak, but more importantly, he’s turned into a hit-or-miss fighter over the last (nearly) seven years, going 5-6 in that span. To be blunt, Rua needs a win or he could find himself out of a job. Although Te Huna has more wind in his sails than Rua, he’s nonetheless a solid opportunity for “Shogun” to prove that he still has what it takes. Rua should be able to beat Te Huna either standing or on the ground, and I believe his experience against better competition and his hunger to put his career back on track will be the deciding factor in this fight. For those reasons, I’m picking Shogun Rua by way of second round TKO.
Buster Evans: This fight is a lot closer than the main event and I’ve really found it hard to pick a winner. “Shogun” may be coming off two losses, but to be fair, both were very bad matchups for Rua stylistically. Te Huna is a warrior just like like “Shogun,” with powerful hands, good wrestling and an iron jaw. He really does have all the tools to win this fight and could very well be the first to put Rua’s lights out. But I think “Shogun’s” striking experience will be the difference. Rua’s leg kicks will play a big factor here. Rua via round 3 Submission (after dropping Te Huna).
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