Mark Hunt – a New Zealand fighter that has seen five consecutive losses in a row; is now one of the top contenders for the UFC world championship title. It hasn’t been an easy road and even Mark himself commented that by the statistics on the book, he shouldn’t even be here.
In 2007 the UFC bought rival promotion PRIDE and ended up inheriting Hunt’s contract, which they were all too eager to buy out but Hunt refused to accept, and today we’re seeing that his refusal to give up has paid off, big time.
On Saturday the 15th of November the UFC 180 interim heavyweight title is poised to take place at Mexico City Arena where hunt will be taking on Fabricio Werdum – the current No.1 contender for the title. Fabricio Werdum, originally from Porto Alegre in Brazil, is standing as the No.1 contender while Hunt’s sitting at No.4. Hunt replaced Cain Velasquez when Cain suffered yet another injury and the UFC have stated that he will be stripped of his title should he not return to the Octagon By March next year.
Even with the odds stacked up against him and Fabricio holding the favourite spot – Hunt has been his optimistic self – focusing all his energy on making sure that he qualifies for the heavyweight and is as physically and mentally prepared as possible.
With a less-than-perfect figure and at age forty – Mark Hunt admits that he shouldn’t even be doing what he’s doing – but I see him as an inspiration, an underdog that has risen above even the most damning of circumstances to take the UFC world championship by storm. Even Hunt himself used the word “underdog” in a recent interview and, the truth is that there is nothing more admirable in this sport than an underdog who uses sheer willpower and inner strength to tip the scales in his favour.
Hunt arrived in Mexico City about three weeks ago to prepare for the fight and had to drop over 40 pounds as well as ensure his fitness was up to scratch - all well having to adjust to the City’s high altitude of 7, 350 feet. This weight-loss was an absolute necessity to ensure that he could make the heavyweight limit and ultimately ensure his participation in the fight. Hunt didn’t disappoint and dropped the excess weight leaving him with only 6.6 pounds left to cut within 24 hours – Something we know he’ll manage to do given all the adverse circumstances he’s managed to overcome over his 16-year career.
He also admitted to press that it’s been a mental struggle for him over the last couple of weeks and that a lifetime of overcoming adversity singlehandedly made sure that he regained his focus for the much anticipated fight to come.
Hunt also mentioned that the heavy carb-restricted diet has taken a serious toll on his energy levels – both physically and mentally – and that he’s looking forward to consuming some carbs to scrape together the mental energy he needs to plan his performance and fight. He also added later that he’s going to be making plans during the fight – plans to seriously hurt Fabricio as much as possible. If Hunt’s words are anything to go by then we’re definitely in for a glorious fight on Saturday.
Hunt was also reported to have said “the only belt I want around this waist is the UFC champion’s belt, and that’s the one that Cain’s got”, an obvious declaration that he’s looking for nothing less than the top spot.
In 2010 Hunt made his debut where he went up against Sean McCorkle and was submitted within just 63 seconds – a major loss that stamped Hunt’s sixth consecutive loss but, fortunately for him, wasn’t his last chance. UFC executives decided to give Hunt another chance and they’re all glad to have made that decision with Dana White, the UFC’s President stating that “He had a losing record in PRIDE and we didn’t want to bring him into the UFC. He proved us wrong. He proved everybody who doubted him wrong”, an emotional statement that must be music to Hunt’s ears, given his rocky relationship with the UFC as a whole.
The fight card, as it stands now shows Hunt with a total of 10 wins to his name while rival Fabricio sits at a total of 18 wins – an obvious reason that he’s been pegged as a favourite to win the UFC championship title. Both fighters are sitting on one draw, while Hunt has 8 losses and Fabricio 5. Looking at these stats may make you doubt Hunt’s chances of winning the fight but we’ll stay hopeful until the fights over because we know that having heart can mean a lot more in the ring than sheer statistics. With a mere 3-year age gap between the two, Hunt’s statement that “I’m too fat and too old to be doing this”, is obviously an exaggeration that’s best ignored by fans. As it stands there’s a 20-pound weight different and a less important 10-inches of height difference between the two. Both fighters have very different fighting styles and skills with Werdum being an accomplished Brazilian jiu-jitsu fighter and Hunt possessing extraordinary knock-out potential with his hard-hitting, juggernaut style of fighting. This knock-out power has been displayed in his fights against Roy Nelson, Stefan Sturve and Cheick Kongo – worth checking out if you want to gauge the power of Hunt’s punch.
Hunt knows that his floor fighting skills may not match those of Fabricio but his been quoted as saying “Everyone’s a world class ground fighter until they get punched in the face. So, that’s how I deal with all the ground fighters like everyone else. I hit ‘em in the head and there goes your f@#ing black belt”, a hilarious statement that’s not far from the truth. Hunt will be looking to keep himself and Fabricio standing for as long as possible to increase his chances of delivering one of his world-class blows to the head of his opponent.
Although this fight is taking place because luck was on Hunt’s side when Cain’s injury pushed him into the front row, it’s a much deserved break for the “Super Samoan”. I’m looking forward to Saturday’s match and I’ll defiantly be rooting for Hunt to come out on top as the UFC world champion.