The main event of UFC Fight Night 33 at Brisbane Entertainment Centre in Brisbane, Australia, produced a majority draw on Friday, but it was one of those rare instances in which the result almost didn't matter. Perhaps there will be a time to argue over the judges' scores, but it wasn't immediately after the bout, which was an instant candidate for fight of the year.
Judge Charlie Keech scored the contest for Hunt, 48-47. Judges Kon Paapaioannou and Barry Foley saw it 47-47.
"I'm so happy," said Silva, who had trained with Hunt in the past. "Mark is a tough guy. I trained a lot for this fight."
UFC president Dana White, never afraid to share his opinion on poor judging, gave his reaction to the scores on Twitter.
"I agree that I have NEVER been so happy with a draw in my life," White said. "I am happy it was a draw. Winner of that fight is US the fans!!!"
A recap of the five-round bout reads more like a movie script than a description of a professional sporting event. Both heavyweights appeared out on their feet at different points of the fight, only to rally back.
Silva (18-5-1) was the cleaner fighter early. He used his size advantage to keep Hunt at bay, landing side kicks to Hunt's midsection while circling away from his knockout power. A brief exchange in the first round saw Silva knock Hunt down with a right hand, but Hunt recovered quickly.
The fight appeared close to being over in the second round when the volume of leg kicks landed by Silva had Hunt (9-8-1) limping badly on his lead leg. The 39-year-old visibly winced and switched to a southpaw stance near the end of the round.
Momentum changed drastically in the third round, however, when Hunt drove home a jab, straight right combination that knocked Silva down. A tiring Hunt almost casually followed Silva to the ground and finished in top position.
Hunt took Silva down again early in the fourth, but couldn't keep him there. After getting back to his feet, Silva walked through several hard elbows by Hunt to land a three-punch combination. Staggered, Hunt threw a defensive left hook up against the fence, but ended up falling onto his back where Silva would eventually open a deep cut on his forehead with an elbow from mount.
The final round would prove to be crucial, as all three judges awarded it to Hunt -- two by dominant scores of 10-8, which produced the draw. Hunt managed to find a second wind as Silva faded, unloading on two-punch combinations and elbows.
Referee Steve Perceval stopped the action in the fifth to have Silva checked by a cageside physician. Silva would be allowed to continue and showed more life on the restart. The two heavyweights stood and threw in the pocket in the final moments.
The result marks the first draw on either's professional record. Hunt finished the year with a 1-1-1 mark in three appearances. He suffered a knockout loss to Junior dos Santos at UFC 160 in May.
Silva also finished 2013 with a 1-1-1 record. Heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez defended his belt against the Brazilian in May via first-round TKO.
Rua lands perfect punch to finish Te Huna
Mauricio Rua lives.
Facing loud rumors of his demise, Rua (22-8) knocked out James Te Huna with a perfect counter left hook just 63 seconds into their light heavyweight fight. The win snaps a two-fight losing streak for the former UFC champion.
Rua looked as sharp as one can look in a 63-second fight. He hit Te Huna (16-7) with a leg kick on the outside, a right hand to the body and nearly threw him to the ground when they tied up during an exchange.
Te Huna, looking to press, stepped into a lead left-hand uppercut. It ended up missing badly, as Rua stepped to the right and delivered the crushing counter left. The lights went out on Te Huna instantly.
"The strategy was to move and connect, use my speed and find the openings," Rua said.
Rua, 32, had relocated his training camp from Curitiba, Brazil, to UFC welterweight Demian Maia's facility in Sao Paulo. He told ESPN.com prior to the bout he was "100 percent healthy" headed into the bout.
"I'm very happy and emotional for this win," Rua said. "I've made a big sacrifice during this training camp. I moved to another city and was away from my family and friends but it has paid off as the reward is great. I'm so proud of my team and all of our efforts."
The victory marks the 19th knockout win by Rua, who had fallen outside most Top 10 rankings following a loss to Chael Sonnen in August.
Te Huna suffered back-to-back losses for the first time in his career after No. 1 contender Glover Teixeira submitted him in the first round via guillotine in May.
Bader mauls Perosh in wide decision
Bader (16-4) was dominant in what was likely his final appearance of the year, mauling Perosh over the course of three rounds to record a unanimous decision.
All three rounds could have arguably been scored 10-8, although official judges' scorecards read 30-27, 30-27 and 30-26.
It was a statement-type performance by Bader, who two months ago appeared on the verge of knocking out Teixeira before he got clipped in a TKO loss. The former collegiate wrestler was far more measured in his attack this time.
"I learned from my last fight," Bader said. "This time around the game plan was to go out, be patient and get the win. For that reason, I've worked a lot on my cardio and speed and it was nice to have that advantage for a fight that went the distance."
He dropped Perosh (14-8) in the opening moments of the fight with a short, counter left. Perosh showed no fear in letting his hands go, but he was at a visible speed disadvantage. A few uppercuts on the inside moments later by Bader had him hurt.
"The plan was to keep the fight on its feet -- use the jab and find various punches," Bader said. "After I felt my right hand weaken, I utilized my wrestling."
Perosh responded with a pair of right hands that forced Bader to back off and reset. In between the first and second rounds, Bader's corner reminded him to be cautious. He took their advice and scored an early takedown in the middle frame, which led to some big elbows from top position.
The third round was the most one-sided of the fight, as Bader took Perosh down early again and appeared close to a TKO finish with a series of unanswered left hands midway through. Perosh's face was a bloody mess by the end of the fight, as he suffered cuts on his forehead and nose.
"Perosh was very tough," Bader said. "He took some very heavy shots but just kept on coming. Much respect."
Bader recorded his ninth win in the UFC. ESPN.com ranked him the No. 9 light heavyweight in the world heading into the bout. Perosh dropped to 1-2 in his last three fights.
Palelei crushes Barry in opening round
The official time of the finish came at 2:09 of the first round as Palelei (20-3) knocked Barry unconscious with hammerfists from the mount. The victory marks the 16th knockout of Palelei's career and 10th in a row.
"I wanted to make a statement today," Palelei said. "My last fight wasn't my best performance, so I'm really thrilled with the knockout tonight."
The game plan of Palelei was pretty obvious from the start as he looked to take Barry down within the first five seconds of the fight.
Barry stuffed the first attempt, but wound up on his back moments later when Palalei drove through a knee strike. Barry was relatively helpless off his back, allowing Soa to pass his guard and work quickly into the mount. Once Palelei got that position it was game over as he opened up with vicious strikes on his defenseless opponent.
"Pat is a very dangerous striker, so it easily could have been me KO'd today," Palelei said. "That's why I wanted to take the fight immediately to the ground and use my ground and pound. I've been working my BJJ lots this camp. When I get on top, I'm not coming off you."
The 35-year-old Aussie hasn't suffered a loss since November 2010 against Daniel Cormier. Barry falls to 5-7 in the UFC and has been finished in all seven losses.
"I'm a proud Aussie MMA fighter, the first from Perth in the UFC, and I'm looking forward to climbing the UFC heavyweight division," Palelei said.
Hester stays unbeaten in the Octagon
Hester (9-3) improved to 2-0 in the Octagon after a separated right shoulder forced Andrews to retire between the second and third rounds. Replays showed the shoulder popped out when Hester moved to block an overhand right from Andrews.
The result of the injury is a second-round TKO victory for Hester.
Andrews (17-5) obviously would have preferred the opportunity to fight the final round, but it might not have changed the result. All momentum had clearly swung in Hester's favor at the time of the stoppage.
"Game plan going in to this fight was to keep it standing, look for to openings and take advantage of them," Hester said. "I felt that was going to plan and [was] disappointed we couldn't go into the third round."
A former second pick on the 17th season of "The Ultimate Fighter," Hester got off to a great start on the feet. He hit Andrews, a fellow cast member on the reality series, with several right hands and a knee inside.
Andrews ducked under an elbow strike and took Hester down in the center of the cage but was mostly inefficient from top position. Hester eventually reversed position and finished the round on top.
"Dylan is my brother, you know. I didn't focus on our friendship while preparing for this fight, but after the fight was done I was swarmed with emotions," Hester said. "We spent six and a half weeks together at the TUF house and we'll always be friends. We both just know that this is what you got to do."
The second round belonged completely to Hester, as the 27-year-old scored a football-style tackle in the center of the cage and went to work from Andrews' guard. Andrews eventually worked to his feet but ate a couple heavy uppercuts.
As blood started to flow from a cut over his left eye, Andrews threw the overhand right that resulted in the injury.
Hester extended his win streak to five, which includes four consecutive finishes. Andrews, meanwhile, saw a six-fight win streak end.
"This is my second UFC win and just another stepping stone to the top 10 and ultimately the championship," Hester said.
Correia surprises Kedzie by decision
Correia (7-0) spent the entire 15-minute contest tracking Kedzie down, mostly behind a powerful left hook. The strategy saw her walk into plenty of counter striking by Kedzie, but the Brazilian landed just enough to take the decision.
"I can't put into words how happy I am," Correia said. "Julie was the favorite fighter, and I beat her. This win will have to put me up in the division, she was ranked eighth, so hopefully I can progress more from here."
Two judges scored the bout 29-28 for Correia, while a third had it 29-28 for Kedzie. ESPN.com scored the 135-pound contest for Corriea.
"I kinda thought I won that fight," Kedzie said. "She took me down, but I got back up right away. Nothing surprised me about that fight except the judges' decision. I think I edged it out."
Kedzie (16-13) used her hand speed and technical advantage to get off combinations throughout, but Correia's physical style took a toll on her as the fight wore on. Early on, Kedzie's lead leg showed visible welts from outside leg kicks.
A pair of left hooks buckled Kedzie's legs in the first round, but she responded well from it. She stuffed a late takedown attempt by Correia to finish the round, and then went on to dominate most of the second frame.
Kedzie scored early with the right hand in the final round, but Correia answered with her first takedown of the fight after catching a body kick. Kedzie would eventually get back to her feet when Correia tried to transition to her back.
"Julie and I had a similar game plan, but she kicks more often," Correia said. "I tried to implement my game to take her kicks out of the fight and I did."
Correia has now won six of her seven fights by decision. Kedzie suffered her fourth consecutive loss, two of which have come in the UFC. She lost to Germaine de Randamie, also by split decision, in July.