When it comes to trying to recreate a classic MMA bout, the myth that lightning never strikes in the same place twice comes to mind. Hardcore fight fans watch hundreds of fights a year. We see everything from lopsided beatdowns to extended staring contests where fans are practically begging the men on screen for some action. If we’re being completely honest, the vast majority of the fights we watch each weekend are immediately forgettable. But like any sports fans, we watch for those rare contests that blow our minds and force us to jump out of our seats due to the insanity that’s taking place on screen. Every so often, two fighters step into the cage and find a way to get even the notoriously hard to please MMA crowd something to swoon over, and it’s in those moments where all of the 15-minute battles between gassed-out heavyweights and the 30-27 lay-and-pray wins become worth it.
In late 2013, Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva and Mark Hunt had one of those fights that remind fight fans exactly why they tune in every weekend. Even though Bigfoot and Hunt are two of the largest athletes on the roster, making it look like even a five-minute run may be too much for them, the two 265-pound giants went to absolute war for five rounds in Australia one night in December, fighting to a majority draw and putting on one of the best heavyweight fights in UFC history. By the end of the 25 minutes, both men were beaten, bruised, exhausted and left without a win. But for once it seemed like no one really cared that the bout didn’t have a definitive victor. Fight fans and even UFC President Dana White knew we had seen something special that night.
Of course, between the insanely positive fan reaction to the fight and the fact that the bout didn’t technically crown a winner, it was only a matter of time before the UFC decided to run back one of the greatest heavyweight match-ups of all time. From as far back as Royce Gracie vs. Ken Shamrock to Forrest Griffin vs. Stephan Bonnar or even a recent long-awaited rematch between Mauricio “Shogun” Rua and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, the UFC has never been shy about making money off a sequel to a memorable fight, even if those sequels almost never match the drama and intrigue of the original. Even if everyone from the average fan off the street to UFC matchmaker Joe Silva knows that it would take a borderline miracle for the second fight to live up to the first, a rematch between Hunt and Bigfoot was always going to happen. So after tearing the house down in Brisbane nearly two years earlier, Bigfoot and Hunt are headed back to Australia to finish the thing in front of what could end up being a record-breaking crowd in Melbourne at UFC 193 this November.
While many fight fans may have preferred to remember the Hunt-Bigfoot bout as it was and don’t see the need for a rematch that almost will certainly underwhelm next to its predecessor, it’s hard to fault the UFC’s matchmaking logic here. Since their first match-up, Hunt and Silva have gone 1-2 inside the Octagon. Both men have suffered some brutal TKO defeats over that time span. They also currently reside in or near the bottom half of the heavyweight division’s top-15 rankings, with Hunt coming in at seventh and Bigfoot holding down the No. 11 spot. On paper, this seems like the fight to make. Furthermore, with a possible record-setting event coming up in Australia, the site of the first battle, the situation was almost too perfect.
If there’s one complaint to be made about Hunt vs. Bigfoot 2 (other than that the fight was made in the first place, I suppose), it’s that the UFC is hoping the nostalgia from the first fight will be enough to convince fight fans that a battle between two heavyweights at least two to three wins away from title consideration is big enough to co-headline what could be the most attended card of all time. UFC 193 is going to sell a ton of tickets regardless of who’s on the card due to it being the first UFC event in Melbourne — the state of Victoria finally legalized the use of a cage this past year. That shouldn’t be an excuse not to stack the card for pay-per-view show airing in a stadium that can hold over 55,000 fans. Bigfoot vs. Hunt is an exciting fight and could easily headline a normal Fight Night event or even be the co-feature on the right pay-per-view card. But with a great welterweight title fight (that sadly isn’t going to draw a ton of casual viewers) between Robbie Lawler and Carlos Condit set for the main event, the UFC should have brought more than a fight between a couple of borderline top-10 heavyweights for the co-main event.
Other than their placement on the pay-per-view card, however, there’s not a lot to hate on when it comes to Hunt-Bigfoot 2. The fight might not be as epic as the first, and with only 15 minutes to work this time instead of the 25 they had in Brisbane, things are guaranteed to be at least a little different, but from a matchmaking standpoint, everything from their recent fights to their schedules and the venue for UFC 193 fell so perfectly into place that this fight basically had to happen. It doesn’t matter that Hunt and Bigfoot may not be all that close to a heavyweight title shot, or that they’re both old enough and have been punched in the head enough times that another title fight might be out of reach. It doesn’t even matter that Hunt and Bigfoot will not and probably cannot put on a show like the one that they did the first time they battled Down Under. Some rematches are destined to take place. In this case, the UFC couldn’t have picked a better time or place to make it happen. The UFC may not be able to make lightning strike in the same place twice, but the company is giving it their best shot with Bigfoot-Hunt 2.
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