By Schwan Humes
Mark Hunt has established himself as a premier fighter in combat sports, having reached the peak of success in kickboxing (as a K-1 Grand Champion), then diving headfirst into mixed martial arts, competing in the two largest organizations in the sport (PRIDE and the Ultimate Fighting Championships). Hunt’s entry into MMA wasn’t spectacular, but with tenaciousness, hard work, determination, drive, an iron jaw, and spectacular punching power, he has turned himself from a potential also-ran into a top-ranked heavyweight in the biggest organization in mixed martial arts.
Hunt is known and loved for the many wars he has engaged in inside of the Octagon, and this Saturday night, on the opening bout of the UFC 209 main card, we will get a matchup of former UFC title challengers and former K-1 champions, when Hunt stands across the cage from Alistair Overeem. But that isn’t the only war Mark Hunt is walking into; outside of the cage, Hunt is waging war against his employer in a fight he can’t afford to lose. Mark Hunt is fighting two wars -- one inside the cage, the other outside of it. Today we explore the fight outside of the cage.
Ultimately the fight happened, and with the exception of a few moments of sustained offense, Hunt was taken down and thoroughly outwrestled on the way to a three-round decision. All was good for the UFC, as a big star had been reintroduced to the heavyweight division and Lesnar was reestablished as a fighter who was capable of competing with and beating the best. Hunt’s momentum was halted, but he got a main card spot, a big payday, and lost little luster losing in a manner expected and predicted by the majority of MMA fighters, coaches, and media. It was a situation where there were no real losers, only winners, then the wheels fell off and the drums of war began to be pounded.
Lesnar failed his pre-fight tests and post-fight tests; the post-fight test failure was treated in the typical manner these sorts of offenses are, with fines being levied and the opportunity to compete in the Octagon being taken away via suspension. Neither was met with much celebration from the mixed martial art world, given the amount of Brock’s purse and his status as a part-time fighter (i.e., a guy who didn’t depend on the sport as his primary source of income). But what was particularly concerning was the fact that Lesnar had failed a test before the fight; in most cases a fighter is pulled from a card until things are clarified as to whether the fighter has in fact been rightfully flagged or if an error had been made. That wasn’t the case for Lesnar, who was allowed to compete, unlike multiple other fighters pulled from cards because of failed pre-fight (out of competition) tests. This was the last straw for Mark Hunt, who decided he was going to take a stand against the organization and against the PED culture he felt was rampant in the UFC.
With a fight like this looming, Mark Hunt would like to focus and prepare; unfortunately for him, he has a family to support and expenses to be paid. What this means is that Hunt has two opponents: one that will try to finish him outside the cage, the other trying to accomplish the same goal inside of it. In the next installment we will address that matchup and the potential ramifications win or lose when Hunt faces Alistair Overeem Saturday night at UFC 209.