Another weekend, another UFC card, although this one has some promise and intriguing bouts. Most notably, the main event features two talented heavyweights who've fallen short of the true upper echelon of the division, but can get a big boost with a win at this event. The rest of the card also has rising prospects in both the men's and women's divisions as well as proven veterans who are in must-win situations.
Will Mark Hunt make one last run at a title? Is this the end of the road for Shogun Rua? I answer these questions and more with my predictions for Friday's fights.
What: UFC Fight Night 33: Hunt vs. Bigfoot
Where: Brisbane Entertainment Centre, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
When: Friday, the one-fight Facebook card starts at 6:30 p.m. ET, the four-fight preliminary card kicks off on Fox Sports 2 at 7 p.m. ET and the six-fight main card begins on Fox Sports 1 at 9 p.m. ET.
I legitimately have no idea what to expect in this fight. I know Hunt's faithful in the MMA fanbase obviously want to see him do well and believe he'll find a way to pull this off with his crippling power and counter striking edge. I wouldn't say they're wrong. Silva is not the speediest of heavyweight. Should he decide to play to Hunt's strengths, I don't suspect the bout will last long. Yet, Silva has the sizable advantage on the floor both with, well, size as well as skill. Hunt's improved his defensive scrambling, but isn't excruciatingly difficult to hold down.
I'm going to go with Silva given that I'm being forced to pick here. When he wants to, he can level change, secure a double and go to work. He can and should do that here. Will he? It's anyone's guess.
Like the rest of you, I was shocked by the loss to Sonnen that Shogun suffered in August. Even writing it sounds bizarre, but it's unavoidably true. That loss, and truthfully some others, have raised questions about Rua's time left in the game, at least as a relevant light heavyweight. And they're fair, as painful as they may be to entertain them.
Rua's been sporadic in performance while still on a general decline. He looked not so great about Brandon Vera in a win, but decent to good in a loss to Alexander Gustafsson. The difference maker for me in this fight with Te Huna is the Kiwi's relative 'freshness'. That is, while he's a bezerker, too, he's not as shop worn as Rua. He's not as talented as Rua and can get blasted out or submitted in his recklessness, but his proactive push is probably going to be enough to win the day.
Pick: Te Huna
What a dangerous fight for The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) veteran. A loss to Perosh could permanently label him a non-contender if he isn't already in that space. He shouldn't lose to Perosh considering his superior wrestling, athleticism, top control and power punching, but he might. Perosh is sneaky and patient in finding offensive openings. An overly aggressive or overly cautious Bader is likely to get finished.
This seems fairly straight forward. Barry's got his wrestling and jiu-jitsu challenges, but he should have enough time to work Palelei over if not in the first round, then certainly in the second.
I'm going to side with Andrews here, but I've been reasonably impressed by Hester's offensive creativity, most notably (if not exclusively) in the striking department. Where he goes from there, well, we'll find out in this fight. And Andrews, despite incessantly being counted out, finds ways to win bouts. I'm going to side with the more proven of the two, but Hester could make a lot of noise with a with on this card.
Kedzie's record is and isn't indicative of the kind of fighter she is. She's plenty capable of hanging with the best in the division, at least for a while, before what appears to be a loss of focus does her in. Still, the point is that as interesting a prospect as Correia is, I'm not yet convinced she has the striking-to-submission blended skill set required to put Kedzie away or win two decisive rounds.
From the preliminary card: