One of the main components of any MMA fight these days is the game plan or strategy. Long gone are the days in which fighters would just be able to train without much thought of what they would need to do inside the Octagon to get the win.

Head coaches are often given the task of devising a structure to their fighters’ training camps to ensure that by the time the fight comes around it won’t feel like they are implementing a predefined game plan, but it will feel like second nature.

In this feature, we will look to identify the underdog in an upcoming bout and examine what is required of that underdog in order to overcome the odds and predictions and get the all-important “W” in the win column. The point, then, is to step into the shoes of a head coach to break down the fight and provide a game plan for the underdog.

This week’s subject is Mark Hunt, who squares off with Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva at UFC Fight Night 33 In Brisbane, Australia.

Both of these heavyweights go into this fight looking to rebound from a loss, though they are both still considered relevant in the division overall and remain towards the top of the rankings in the UFC. With a few wins, either fighter could be looking at a title shot or top contender match-up, given how shallow the talent pool currently appears.

Bigfoot is looking to come back from his loss to Cain Velasquez six months ago. That defeat proved that he is still lagging behind the very elite group of fighters which arguably now consists of just two or three men, with the rest falling further and further behind.

Meanwhile, the “Super Samoan” is seeking to rebound from his loss against another member of that elite group of UFC heavyweights, Junior Dos Santos, on his home soil and will be sure to be the fan-favorite, if not the bookies’ favorite, against Silva.

This will be a real opportunity to break away from the chasing pack and make a step back towards those in the top two or three prior to a title fight. As for the loser, it is perhaps a rare situation whereby they could go from a main event to a prelim fighter within the space of a few months.

Despite the lack of depth in the heavyweight division, there still exists the potential for interesting match-ups out there for both fighters once this fight is done, whether it be Roy Nelson against Hunt or Bigfoot against the winner of Stipe Miocic vs. Gabriel Gonzaga, which is due to take place at UFC on Fox 10 in Chicago on Jan. 25.

The Breakdown

Silva has definitely progressed leaps and bounds over recent years in technique as well as from an athleticism standpoint. The nickname “Bigfoot” might not instill much confidence in his athletic abilities, but in a heavyweight division bereft of athletes, Silva is definitely making progress.

Looking down Silva’s resume alone, it is easy to see why the bookies have him as the favorite heading into this one. Alistair Overeem, Travis Browne, Andrei Arlovski, Ricco Rodriguez and, not least, Fedor Emelianenko are some of the best heavyweight names in MMA history, and to hold victories over all of these men goes a long way to proving not just the consistent progression of Silva, but also his overall skill level.

Hunt has had perhaps the most dramatic U-turn in the UFC over the last two or three years, whereas he was looking to be very much on a downward spiral following his loss to Sean McCorkle in his UFC debut back in 2010.

What happened next could have been predicted by few outside of Hunt’s inner circle. The “Super Samoan” went on a winning streak that catapulted him into the title picture at heavyweight and even led to MMA fans on Twitter lobbying on Hunt’s behalf for a shot at the title, thanks to victories over Chris Tuchscherer, Ben Rothwell, Cheick Kongo and Stefan Struve, before he ran into Junior dos Santos.

Despite his apparent comeback, Hunt’s game plan is hardly a secret. He will look for a knockout on the feet whilst keeping grappling to a minimum.

The Strategy

This is truly a case of two fighters who rely upon their respective power striking to finish their opponents.

Hunt will need to counteract the improved athleticism of Silva, not to mention his clear size advantage over just about any man walking the planet.

Whilst the striking abilities of the two are perhaps the closest matched, it is the grappling of Silva of which Hunt will be most wary. Hunt will need to show improved speed and footwork to keep Silva from overpowering him, whilst still being able to get in and out without getting caught by the sledgehammer-sized fists of the Brazilian.

Another weapon that Hunt could look to utilize to keep Silva off-balance would be his leg kicks. This could prevent Silva from readily marching forward and imposing his size upon Hunt and would then allow Hunt to move forward himself with a view to exploding with the vicious hooks that have become his trademark.

Overall, if Hunt is to get a victory in this fight, he will have to utilize his traditional game plan of keeping the fight standing at all costs to an absolute maximum before looking to land a big shot to end the fight and send the local fans home happy.

Photo: Mark Hunt delivers a left hand (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)


About The Author

Greg Byron
Staff Writer

Greg Byron started training in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu after his brother introduced him to a local MMA fighter/coach when he was just 16 years old. Greg has trained for nearly a decade in both BJJ and MMA, competing in several grappling events within the UK. In addition to MMA, Greg possesses a law degree and works for a firm in northern part of England.