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Monday, December 9, 2013
Another 'best ever' candidate?

By Josh Gross
ESPN.com

The year 2013 has been a banner year in the "best ever" category.

You can't watch mixed martial arts week in, week out, without being propositioned with the idea that the fight you're about to watch, or the one you just did, is simply the best (hat tip to Tina Turner).

The latest fight getting this treatment is, of course, Mark Hunt's heavyweight UFC clash with Antonio Silva in Brisbane, Australia. It was an amazing fight to watch unfold live. No doubt about it. Action picked up in the second half, leading to wild moments and flurries that left both fighters hurt, defenseless, in a position to recover and fight back. It was just surreal in some spots. These weren't lightweights bouncing bombs off one another's heads. Heavyweights.

Both guys north of 260 pounds, each ham-fisted with bad intentions.

It was an epic way to spend half an hour, no question. But the best heavyweight clash ever?

That's what some people are saying. The best heavyweight fight ever.

The best UFC heavyweight fight ever. The best five-round heavyweight fight ever. The best fight of the year. Hey, a person could reasonably argue in favor of Hunt-Silva being all those things. Had I chimed in on fight night, I might have said something similar. But I've tried to make a habit of waiting on "best ever" pronouncements. And because I'm writing this with a little distance, I feel comfortable not signing on to Hunt-Silva as being the best of the best from heavyweights in the UFC.

The first half of the fight was competitive but mostly vanilla. Hunt couldn't figure out distance against Silva. Silva was paying proper attention to defense. But then Hunt popped Silva and dropped the giant Brazilian in the third. And it was on. From that point forward, the next two and a half rounds were truly something to behold.

Still, it falls short of fight of the year for me. I prefer Jon Jones' win against Alexander Gustafsson, or Demetrious Johnson retaining his belt against John Dodson.

As for where it ranks all time among heavyweight fights in the Octagon, it'll be a fan favorite. No question. But I prefer Randy Couture versus Pedro Rizzo 1 (alternating 10-8 rounds followed by another grueling 15 minutes); Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira versus Couture (a classic style fight that delivered); Bas Rutten's clutch UFC debut stoppage of Tsuyoshi Kosaka; and the thrilling spectacle between Brock Lesnar and Shane Carwin.