Mark Hunt’s UFC story has been a phenomenal one. The giant Kiwi slugger entered on a formality with the UFC forced to honour an old contractual agreement, but now he’s fighting Fabricio Werdum at UFC 180 in a main event bout for the UFC’s interim heavyweight title.
Hunt stepped in at relatively late notice when UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez was forced off the card due to injury, but “The Super Samoan” will be aiming to keep his streak of knockouts going when he meet the Brazilian.
“I feel blessed to have this opportunity to fight for another world title,” stated Hunt. “This is something that doesn’t happen often to people. First K1 and now UFC – how can I say no, even though it’s on short notice?
He entered the UFC’s Octagon with a very average 5-6 record, though of course he had fought some of the world’s best fighters in Pride FC. His debut loss in the Octagon to Sean McCorkle didn’t inspire much confidence either. On September 25th, 2010 as he stood in the cage defeated, not
many would have predicted he’d be in title contention four years later.
However, he’s now on the cusp and the bookies aren’t writing him off; there are a legion of diehard fans betting on his ability to become UFC champion
How feasible that is remains to be seen. He takes on a world-class submission artist in Mexico – his usual Kryptonite – but he believes that punching him in the face will be enough to negate that advantage.
“I hit him in the head and there goes your black belt,” he casually told MMA Fighting earlier in the week.
He does have a track record of success using his hands as bludgeoning tools. BJJ black belt Roy Nelson recently found that out when he was knocked out by Hunt in Saitama, Japan. As casual as you like, he swung a brutal uppercut that was enough to separate Nelson from his senses and get the fans believing that Hunt could be a legitimate threat to the championship gold.
That win marked the pinnacle of his current resurgence, though he also boasts victories over Cheick Kongo, Stefan Struve and Ben Rothwell in his current UFC stint, and of course there was the Fight of the Night draw with Antonio Silva that had the MMA world aghast.
You might want to write him out, but every time you do that Mark Hunt reminds us that he’s serious about fighting. The laidback joker might not have the same intense demeanour as other contenders, but his opponents know how serious he is when he’s laying his leather on their face.
Fabricio Werdum has not got an easy route to the title despite what some might say – there’s a huge, hungry Samoan standing in his way, and he won’t be rolling over for anybody.
Hardcore fans are just waiting to see how this story unfolds. It would be one of the sport’s greatest narratives. All that’s left is to see how it plays out on November 15th at UFC 180 in Mexico City.