Esther Lin, MMA Fighting
We don't yet quite know who UFC heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos will be stepping into the cage against when he walks into the MGM Grand Garden Arena on May 26.
We know one person who it most certainly will not be: Mark Hunt. The heavy-handed New Zealander has been the subject of a rowdy social media movement since questions have arisen about Alistair Overeem's eligibility to fight Dos Santos, but White says Hunt won't get the nod, even if Overeem can't go.
"They can keep rallying. It ain’t going to happen," White said during the UFC on FUEL 2 post-fight press conference.
Hunt was an unlikely candidate to begin with. Although he's won three straight fights, those victories have only moved his career record to 8-7.
Then again, it's been an impressive climb back for him. When UFC-owned Zuffa bought PRIDE in 2007, White tried to buy Hunt out of his contract, thinking he had no remaining value as a competitive mixed martial artist. The proud athlete could have taken the payout and gone elsewhere, but instead demanded his contracted bouts.
In his first UFC match, he lost to then little-known Sean McCorkle in just 63 seconds, tapping out to a straight arm bar. But in his next match, he rallied to knockout Chris Tuchscherer, and since then he's beaten respected veterans Ben Rothwell and Cheick Kongo.
He's currently scheduled to fight Stefan Struve on May 26, and according to White, that's exactly where he'll stay.
"I have apologized and praised Mark Hunt for what he's accomplished in the situation he was in," White said. "And I think this fight with Struve is a good fight for him. If he beats Struve, he’ll break in and start fighting some of the top five heavyweights in the world. Anything can happen in a fight, but in all reality, it's not fair to Mark Hunt either, to throw the guy right in there with Junior Dos Santos for a title shot. The guy worked his way up, he beats Struve, he fights somebody in the top five. I guarantee you this, he beats Struve, his next fight will be someone in the top five that can get him closer to that title shot."
Meanwhile, the mystery of who exactly will face Dos Santos at UFC 146 continues. At the time Overeem's elevated testosterone-to-epitestosterone ratio was revealed, White lambasted him, saying he was "beyond pissed," and calling him a "moron." Over one week later, White continued to voice frustration with the situation, but sounded like he was resigned to letting the system run its course.
"I don't have the temperament to talk about this," he said. "I will say things you guys will love and I will hate next week. So let me just say this: everybody gets due process. Alistair Overeem will have his due process with the Nevada state athletic commission. We'll see what happens and we'll go from there. And when it all goes down, somebody else will speak about this. Not me."
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