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'Bigfoot' Silva, Mark Hunt originally declined to fight each other

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva and Mark Hunt will headline UFC Fight Night 33 on Dec. 7 at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre in Australia, but the bout almost never happened.

"Bigfoot" and Hunt trained together in the beginning of the year, when the Brazilian was scheduled to fight Cain Velasquez for the UFC heavyweight championship, and Silva told MMA Fighting that they both declined the offer to fight each other.

"When I got the offer to fight Hunt, I knew that he initially declined the bout, he asked to fight someone else, and so did I," Silva said. "Not that we are big friends, but we trained together and helped each other this year."

However, UFC wanted the pair of heavyweights to headline their first and only Australian show in 2013, and they had to accept the contract.

"I like the guy, he’s really cool, but we’re professionals and that’s part of the job," said Silva. "They wanted that fight so we had to accept it, despite the fact that we didn’t want to. But I’m very happy that the UFC gave me this opportunity to headline another card. I hope I can do a great fight for the fans. I’m hungry to fight again. I recharged my batteries and I’m now ready to train and do a great fight on Dec. 7."

Silva trained with Hunt for a month at American Top Team in Florida before his clash with Velasquez in May, and that will help him prepare his strategy for the fight.

"We sparred three or four times," he said. "I obviously will take something from that training for my next camp, but everything changes. We will set the perfect strategy. We can’t underestimate him, he’s a dangerous fighter, but I always did great fights against strikers, like Andrei Arlovski, Alistair Overeem, Fedor Emelianenko and Travis Browne. I match well against strikers."

Hunt is a former K-1 world champion, and "Bigfoot" knows he has to be ready for his high-level striking game.

"Mark Hunt is a dangerous opponent," he said. "He’s not ranked among the Top 10 in the UFC, but that doesn’t say anything. I will train for the toughest fight of my career like if he was the No. 1."

Silva is 2-2 inside the Octagon, with both of his losses handled by the hands of Cain Velasquez. He knows he has a long way before getting another shot at the heavyweight title, and he’s patient to get as many wins as he needs to his record to get there.

"I’m really far from the title now," he said. "Every fighter’s goal is to fight for the title, but I know that I’m at the end of the line now. There are a lot of top fighters in front of me that deserve this opportunity. I believe that defeating Hunt, maybe two or three more wins would get me there again. And I will get there."