UFC 160’s Mark Hunt Hoping To Continue Title Run: “The Plan Is To Knock Junior Out”
By Kelsey Mowatt
If you had told someone a couple of years ago that by May, 2013, Mark Hunt would be competing in a title shot eliminator bout for the UFC, you’re knowledge of MMA would have quickly been called into question. After all, before Hunt KO’d Chris Tuchscherer at UFC 127 in February, 2011, the New Zealand heavyweight had lost six straight fights in a row. Five of those six losses had come by submission. Most observers had closed the book on Hunt’s MMA endeavours.
Of course, in what is well documented history, Hunt has become one of MMA’s biggest stories by winning four straight fights. Most recently, the 39 year-old vet stopped Stefan Struve in brutal fashion at UFC on FUEL TV 8, which ended the rising fighter’s four fight win streak. A few days after that memorable win, Alistair Overeem withdrew from his UFC 160 tilt with Junior dos Santos due to injury. The MMA gods were smiling on Hunt, and he was tapped as Overeem’s replacement.
Now, Hunt will look to add yet another thrilling chapter to his career, when he throws down with the former champ dos Santos on Saturday. While a KO win will catapult Hunt into a title fight with either Cain Velasquez or “Big Foot” Silva, it remains to be seen if a decision win does the same.
“No, there’s no pressure to do that, I’m just trying to win this.That’s the main thing for me,” Hunt said during a recent media call, when asked if he feels pressure to score a knockout so that a title shot comes his way. “Of course I want to win, but the plan is to knock Junior out…just getting the win is all I’m looking for.”
Despite Hunt’s run the heavyweight will be a considerable underdog versus dos Santos. While Hunt’s one punch knockout power, renowned chin and extensive striking background will give dos Santos cause for concern, many observers are already looking towards a possible third tilt between Cain Velasquez and the Brazilian.
“Everything,” said Hunt, when asked what is the biggest threat dos Santos will bring into the Octagon Saturday. “Like I said, he’s the former champion so it will be a great match for me. We’ll see how it goes.”
When the UFC held the media call, Hunt was still waiting on his visa to fly out from Australia to the U.S.. The delay had already ruined his original timeline in terms of acclimatising to the conditions and time difference in Las Vegas. Hunt didn’t receive his visa until this past Monday.
“It’s just frustrating but what can you do?” Hunt noted. “I can’t do anything about it. It’s not in my hands anymore. I just leave it in God’s hands and whatever happens, happens.”
The May 25th, UFC 160 card will be hosted by the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.