Yesterday, it was officially announced that Brock Lesnar's opponent for his return at UFC 200 would be none other than beloved UFC heavyweight Mark Hunt. To promote the announcement, Lesnar made multiple media appearances detailing why he is returning, remarking that he felt he was robbed of his MMA career by diverticulitis, the digestive disease which at one point threatened his life.
Hunt made his own comments on the announcement via an article on his own website Markhunt.tv, where he outlined his feelings on the bout and his willingness to take the fight on short notice.
"When I was asked a few weeks ago to stay ready for July, I was very pumped man. I had no idea it would be Brock, but like everything it doesn't matter who I fight they are going to get it good and proper when I step inside the cage. I'm just going to prepare as best as I can. My mind is built for this shit. Throw me into the maelstrom of battle and 9 out of 10 times I walk away."
Hunt's career MMA record is 12-10-1 with all of his losses coming via stoppage. But records can be deceiving, none more so than Hunt's. Famously, Hunt's contract with the UFC was acquired in the Pride FC purchase and the UFC offered to buy him out of his contract for $450,000 so as to release themselves from their contractual obligations to give him fights. At the time, Hunt was 5-6 and on a 5-fight losing streak. Hunt declined the offer and insisted on fighting out his contract which turned out to be a great decision. Since joining the UFC, Hunt has accumulated a 7-4-1 record in the UFC, the No. 8 ranking in the heavyweight division, and a newly signed multi-million dollar contract (one of many he has received during his tenure).
Conversely, Lesnar has not competed in MMA since December of 2011, when he was stopped by body shots from current UFC heavyweight challenger Alistair Overeem. In the almost five years Lesnar has been gone the UFC landscape has changed substantially, most notably with the implementation of USADA drug testing. Coming from professional wrestling, where there is a stigma of PED usage, some have questioned how these new rules may effect Lesnar coming into the UFC on such a short timeline. Hunt remarked on the situation that he would hope they are testing Lesnar but that ultimately it doesn't matter.
"I already said they better be testing him, but in the end it doesn't even matter. It's time for ‘punch face', a game I have been playing for many years."
Hunt definitely has been playing that game for many years. He is 42 years old and has been fighting professionally since 1998 when he began his fight career in boxing and kickboxing. Hunt was the 2001 K-1 Kickboxing World Grand Prix champion before transitioning to MMA in 2004. Many of Hunt's early losses came as a result of his opponent's taking him down and exploiting his minimal ground skills. Lesnar is a former D-1 national champion wrestler and will likely look to do the same, something which Hunt is prepared for.
"I deal with a wrestler like I deal with every other fighter. I punch them in the mouth."
It is a plan that has worked exceedingly well for him in the UFC. Hunt's takedown defense in the UFC is 75.6% placing him third among active heavyweights. But in Lesnar, Hunt faces the best wrestler he has ever fought. Lesnar's takedown accuracy is third in division history at 55% and first among active heavyweights. Still, Hunt remains confident. Lesnar has developed a reputation for being overly wary of getting punched and Hunt is one of the best to ever throw hands, something he intends to take full advantage of.
"I'll knock his face off. I knock his mouth off and then his lips fly off. If he has an itch to scratch I will scratch it for him. I ain't no part-time fighter. He thinks this is a game where he can come back and forth. I will send this pretender back so he can play house with the other part timers. This realm is for the real fighters, not these damn pretenders. Don't confuse wrestling with real fighting. I'm going to give it to him."
Odds makers seem to agree, opening Hunt as a -190 favorite over the returning Lesnar. We are less than five weeks away from finding out if they are right.
5 MUST-READ STORIES
RIP. Kevin "Kimbo Slice" Ferguson has passed away at age 42.
Beast vs Super Samoan. Brock Lesnar will face Mark Hunt at UFC 200.
Neither did we. Brock Lesnar says he "didn't want it to be over" when he left the UFC.
More like Hundo. UFC 199 salaries released with Dan Henderson topping all fighters by earning $800,000.
Prolonged recovery. UFC 199 medical suspensions revealed, Hector Lombard out for 6 months with no exception.
EXTRA CREDIT READING
Judo chop. Connor Ruebusch of Bloody Elbow breaks down how Bisping upset Luke Rockhold to become the UFC middleweight champion.
Ariel on SVP talking Kimbo and the lifting of his suspension.
I hope Heyman plays a role in promoting this fight. Waste of talent if not.
Stephen Thompson putting it on Robert Whittaker (the current #6 middleweight) should remind us all how good Wonderboy is.
MMA media luminary Josh Gross, long time banned reporter from the UFC, talking about the UFC and media.
Bill Burr was very impressed by Dan Henderson.
Luke really did an excellent job on this one. Learn some things.
In remembrance of Kimbo Slice, the Heavy Hands breaking down his technical brawling skill.
Helwani and 199 discussion.
I forgot to add this one yesterday, but a fitting tribute to The Greatest.
Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) June 4, 2016
Kimbo was very much respected in the fight community.
RIP kimbo was a real dude real humble my prayers with his fam— Jorge Masvidal UFC (@GamebredFighter) June 7, 2016
I knew kimbo since I was 19. I was a kid. Wouldn't be where I'm at it if it wasn't for him.— Jorge Masvidal UFC (@GamebredFighter) June 7, 2016
We battled inside the cage, warrior vs warrior. Outside the cage, we have loved ones. REST IN PEACE KIMBO SLICE. May God Watch Over You.— KEN SHAMROCK (@ShamrockKen) June 7, 2016
Does this come off as rude or sincere?
Just a heads up everyone, please don't refer to me as the Kimbo killer any more...kinda weird now.— Seth Petruzelli (@silverbackseth) June 7, 2016
It really does.
And I would say it again. But god damn that was awesome and shows you can never count anyone out.https://t.co/v3Ahfh36NT— Ian McCall (@Unclecreepymma) June 6, 2016
It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood.
Dan Henderson (@danhendo) June 6, 2016
Nate Quarry was very vocal about the Helwani story.
Zuffa has said the product is UFC. Fighters are interchangeable. Yet they bring back needle movers to make more money. Which is it? #Lesnar— Nathan Quarry (@NateRockQuarry) June 6, 2016
Ariel Helwani.— Nathan Quarry (@NateRockQuarry) June 6, 2016
What's surprising to me is that people are surprised how he was treated.
I've talked to MANY... https://t.co/bITEOhQsjE
Cowboy getting got by known MMA troll SuperCalo
Derrick Lewis (@Thebeast_ufc) June 7, 2016
Again, RIP Kimbo.
Werdum and Rockhold have a long standing beef and Werdum is enjoying Rockhold's loss it seems.
Waiting for Chael to photoshop a bus in place of the horse.
TODAY IN MMA HISTORY
2008: At UFC 85: Bedlam, Thiago Alves knocked out Matt Hughes with a knee and punches in the second round of the main event. Hughes came in on short notice and the fight was contested at 174 lbs. because Alves missed the welterweight limit. This card also featured the fustercluck that was Thales Leites vs. Nate Marquardt which ended in a split decision for Leites after Marquardt was deducted two points for fouling during the bout.
2009: Mike Thomas Brown defended his WEC featherweight championship, winning a unanimous decision over Urijah Faber in the main event of WEC 41. This is also the event where Jose Aldo killed Cub Swanson with a double tap jumping knee in the first 8 seconds of their featherweight fight.
2014: Diego Sanchez won the 2014 robbery of the year, stealing a split decision from Ross Pearson at UFC Fight Night 42. In the main event that evening, Benson Henderson defeated Rustam Khabilov via fourth round rear-naked choke.
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