Another fight, another knockout loss for Antonio ‘Bigfoot’ Silva.
The former UFC veteran fought at the Glory 46 kickboxing event in China over the weekend and added another defeat to his resume. Although it was only his first foray in kickboxing, it wasn’t the first time Silva has been stopped in a fight. In fact, we remember Silva more for his knockout losses in the UFC than his victories.
Losing by knockout isn’t the issue here It’s the damage Silva has taken throughout his career. The 38 year old Brazilian saw his UFC career end in 2016 after a string of knockout losses but he has fought on, rather foolishly. The knockdowns and knockouts kept coming, even outside the UFC. And now this, another KO loss in kickboxing. And he may not yet be done fighting.
Most Knocked Down
In September of 2016, Fightnomics listed down the most knocked down fighters in the history of the UFC. Not surprisingly, Bigfoot Silva was high on the list:
Ouch!— Fightnomics Reed (@Fightnomics) September 22, 2016
Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva has been one of the most frequently knocked down fighters ever.
2nd all-time on Knockdowns Received per Min. pic.twitter.com/3kmrFdSHG6
Sure, that list was from a year ago, but with Nate Marquardt and Andrei Arlovski the only current active fighters in the UFC from that list, that’s still pretty much your Top 10 right now. And even if there were any significant changes on that list, the fact that Bigfoot Silva suffered 10 knockdowns in 28 rounds still stands. Record or not, that’s still too much.
Here’s more. We checked on the official UFC stats at Fightmetric and found out that Bigfoot only has a 50% strike defense. This means that for every two punches/kicks his opponent throws, one is able to connect on Bigfoot’s body. Sure, if you dig more into Fightmetric, you’ll find out that Derrick Lewis also has a 50% strike defense and Mark Hunt just 51%. There’s a difference though between the two and Bigfoot Silva.
Lewis may be an easy target but he outlands his opponents 3.2 to 1.58 in significant strikes per minute. Hunt meanwhile, lands 3.03 significant strikes per minute and absorbs 2.83 significant strikes per minute. Bigfoot Silva? He connects with 2.89 significant strikes per minute but gets nailed with 3.09 of those per minute.
Look, the difference in strikes landed and absorbed aren’t significant, numbers-wise. It just translates to one or two extra punches/kicks per round. But given that these fighters are heavyweights, that one extra punch/kick can put you to sleep. Or ( hopefully not ) inflict permanent damage. Remember these fighters use four ounce MMA gloves when they punch each other.
The bottomline is this. Antonio ‘Bigfoot’ Silva has absorbed plenty of damage in his career. Going back to those stats, those were UFC stats only. Remember that Silva has fought only 11 times under the UFC banner. He already had 19 fights under his name before he arrived in the UFC and two fights outside the promotion after his release in 2016. You bet he didn’t fight differently when he didn’t fight in the UFC.
Fighting After The UFC
Antonio Silva made his MMA debut on March 6, 2005. That was a dozen years ago. Just imagine the number of strikes he’s absorbed these past 12 years given the way he fights. The knockdowns he’s taken and the knockout losses that he’s absorbed. Sure he’s not Bigfoot for nothing. He’s tough as nails. But he’s human and the body can’t take too much.
Despite being a big name, Silva has won just three times under the UFC banner. He lost seven times and drew once although the draw was overturned to a no-contest because of drug issues. All of his seven UFC losses were by knockout. Six of those KO losses came inside round 1. So it wasn’t a surprise when the UFC released him when his contract ended in October 2016. It was a surprise though when he decided to fight on elsewhere.
Since his release from the UFC, Bigfoot has fought twice in different promotions in Russia. In November 2016, he fought undefeated bodybuilder Ivan Shtyrkov under Titov Boxing Promotion. Silva was knocked down in round one, got beaten up in round 2 but survived and managed to finish with a big third round. He lost the bout by unanimous decision.
In June 2017, Silva fought former Bellator heavyweight champion Vitaly Minakov at Fight Nights Global 68. Bigfoot was knocked out in the second round of that contest. But if you thought that he was going to hang up his gloves, Bigfoot instead turned his attention to kickboxing. Not only did he attempt to make the crossover, he did so by challenging the best in the business.
Rico Verhoeven is the current GLORY heavyweight kickboxing champion. He’s lost just once in his last 10 fights and had won 7 fights in a row, 4 by knockout. The 28 year old Dutch is ranked as the #1 heavyweight in the world by the likes of liverkick.com, Combat Press and GLORY. Surely, he is no easy opponent to face, not especially if you are making your pro kickboxing debut.
But Bigfoot Silva is a big name. And he’s literally big enough to face Verhoeven. And so they fought at Glory 46 in China over the weekend. The result? Verhoeven knocked out Silva inside two rounds.
Fighting For Money
It’s tough to watch Antonio ‘Bigfoot’ Silva suffer yet another knockout loss. Whether it’s MMA or kickboxing, it’s equally painful to witness. After the fight, Silva even called for a rematch with Verhoeven but inside an MMA cage ( Verhoeven has fought once in MMA ). You’ve got to be kidding!
There is no harm in trying again. But at this stage of his career, Antonio Bigfoot Silva must realize that health could become an issue. Sure, he still believes he can compete with the best, especially outside the UFC where he can go back to TRT. But then he also says that money is the reason why he continues to fight.
It’s sad to see fighters like Bigfoot Silva fight for scraps when the likes of Conor McGregor earn tens or hundreds of millions per fight. Silva is willing to sacrifice his health to earn a living. Listen to Silva’s longtime manager Alex Davis, who spoke to MMAJunkie in August about Bigfoot fighting Verhoeven:
“ If it was up to me, he would not take this fight. But at the end of the day, my job is to inform him, give him my advice, and the one who has to make the final decision is him.”
That’s lunacy. Sports is also business. But health should be priority over anything else. If there was someone to blame for this, it’s perhaps the regulating bodies who don’t give a damn about fighters like Bigfoot Silva. Whether you like it or not, what he’s doing is suicide.
Mental Health Issues
According to Davis, Bigfoot’s brain health is being closely monitored by the Cleveland Clinic’s Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in Las Vegas. He even added another foolish statement:
“Physically, ‘Bigfoot’ has no problems whatsoever. He has no brain damage. We’ve done extensive research and testing, even before he left the UFC. So he’s OK on that end.”
We all know that the signs of brain damage are not always apparent until after several years after the actual trauma. So despite how extensive the research and testing they’ve been doing since Silva left the UFC, we can never know for sure if he’s going to be OK tomorrow, the next day or the day after next.
Let’s not look too far from former MMA star Gary Goodridge who like Bigfoot fought in kickboxing after his MMA career. Big Daddy is currently living with degenerative dementia as a result of head trauma from his fighting days. Sad to say this but Bigfoot appears to be following in Goodridge footsteps. Silva can’t fight too long.
The Mark Hunt Example
Most recently, UFC Heavyweight Mark Hunt was pissed off after he was pulled from the November 19 UFC Fight Night in Sydney. The UFC cited ‘medical concerns’ as the reason and pointed to Hunt’s September article in the Players Voice as their basis. In the article, Hunt discussed issues relating to his health like memory loss and loss of sleep.
Like Silva, Hunt is a brawler who’s been in many wars. In fact, the two fought in perhaps the most brutal five round bout in UFC heavyweight history at the main event of UFC Fight Night 33 in 2013. That back and forth brawl ended in a majority draw ( later overturned to a NC after Silva tested positive for elevated testosterone levels ). Surely Silva can relate to Hunt. And Hunt, like Silva, should think about protecting his health more than anything else.
At the end of the day, the decision is up to the fighter himself. In the absence of concrete regulations and managers who truly care for their fighters, Bigfoot Silva will fight on for as long as someone out there is going to pay for his name. But this can’t go on for too long. Hopefully, Bigfoot’s career won’t end as tragically as it did for Big Daddy Gary Goodridge. No one is too big for brain damage.
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