UFC 180: Mark Hunt Says His Power Can Deliver Championship Win, But Will it be Enough?
By Kelsey Mowatt
For understandable reasons, the ‘comeback story’ has dominated the pre-UFC 180 narrative, since it was announced that Mark Hunt will face Fabricio Werdum for the promotion’s interim heavyweight title. While it’s made for compelling headlines and a nice promotional hook, the larger questions remains; can Hunt really do this?
Regardless of whether you’re a Hunt fan or not, no one can deny that the turnaround he’s produced, is pretty remarkable. As 2010 came to a close, the former K-1 champ had lost six straight fights, and the heavyweight’s MMA career was widely viewed as a bust. Since then, Hunt has gone 5-1-1, and has recorded some of the most memorable KOs in the heavyweight division along the way.
Of course, anyone who has watched Hunt put away opponents over the years, know that because of his feared striking game, he has a chance to defeat Werdum, or any man for that matter. In addition, Hunt has worked hard on his takedown defence and ground game, and his stand-up has become even more dangerous as a result.
As retired fighter and now analyst Kenny Florian recently relayed on the latest edition of “UFC Tonight” (quote via FOX Sport 1 press release):
“If you want to improve your striking, watch Mark Hunt. He’s so fluid. It’s all about accuracy. He’s looking for the chin from variety of angles and he avoids takedowns. He keeps getting better.”
Florian’s fellow commentator, Daniel Cormier, also noted that “it doesn’t matter how great your chin is”, when it comes to absorbing a punch from Hunt. It if lands, chances are, you’re going to “sleep.”
Due to Werdum’s vaunted ground skills, and Hunt’s well documented power, there’s been considerable speculation that “Vai Cavalo” will look to take the fight down. Not surprisingly, Hunt has been contending that he has the means to negate Werdum’s world class, jiu-jitsu skills:
The New Zealand fighter relayed on “UFC Tonight”:
“I’m a striker, that’s my background. I can put him out. He’s the submission artist, but this isn’t BJJ. This is mixed martial arts. I don’t care if you have a black belt or red belt, if I can punch you in the face, you’re going to sleep.”
While it remains to be seen if Hunt can survive Werdum’s submission game, which has tapped the likes of Fedor Emelianenko and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, this narrative overlooks the heavyweight’s vastly improved stand-up.
Although standing with Hunt might be a dangerous road to take, Werdum has not only engaged powerful strikers like Travis Browne and Roy Nelson on their feet, he outscored them while doing so. As Cormier furthered on “UFC Tonight”:
“It’s going to be a great fight. Fabricio’s been known as a jiu-jitsu guy and he and his coach been working for years trying to round him out. We’re finally seeing the finished product. Whether he’s standing or on the ground, he’s a complete man now.”
In other words, a large portion of the MMA world may be hoping to see Hunt complete his comeback story, but there’s a reason why Werdum’s a heavy favorite on the betting lines. The 37 year-old heavyweight has more ways to win the fight than his 40 year-old opponent.
UFC 180 will be hosted by the Mexico City Arena on November 15th.