It was an oddly paced fight, a strange finish and the aftermath was even more surprising.
Mark Hunt got a much-needed victory over Derrick Lewis via TKO at 3:51 of the fourth round in the main event of UFC Fight Night 110 on Saturday night in Auckland, New Zealand. It was Hunt’s first time competing in MMA in his home country and a significant win for “The Super Samoan” late in his career.
But Lewis, 32, threw a monkey wrench into the narrative when he alluded to retirement in an interview with Brian Stann in the cage afterward. “The Black Beast” said he was getting married next week, didn’t want to put his family through this anymore and this would “most likely” be his final fight.
If it is, thank you @TheBeast_UFC #UFCAuckland pic.twitter.com/YnYWOfefUa— UFC (@ufc) June 11, 2017
Hunt, 43, made a bit of a reference to retiring himself, saying post fight “if that’s it for me tonight,” but also added “it looks like it’s still continuing.”
The fight itself was slowly paced, which was a possibility for the two huge heavyweights, but also included a lot of hard haymakers thrown. Lewis looked good early on, putting forth good performances in the first and second rounds. But he tired midway through the third and Hunt mixed in body shots that further depleted him. Hunt’s experience, patience and technical striking ability took over from there.
Lewis threw a jumping knee in the fourth round and when that didn’t connect he seemed to back toward the cage and signal that it was all he had. Hunt finished with some punches, none of them particularly hard, soon after.
“This is a pretty good feeling,” Hunt said. … “This is my hood. I run this hood.”
Lewis said he re-injured his lower back recently and that affected his performance in the fight.
Hunt (13-11-1, 1 NC) rebounded from a third-round knockout loss to Alistair Overeem at UFC 209 in March. It has been a drama-filled past 12 months for Hunt, who is suing the UFC, UFC president Dana White and Brock Lesnar after Lesnar failed two drug tests in relation to their fight at UFC 200.
“I think we all ned to band together to get rid of steroids in our sport and make it an even playing field,” Hunt said afterward.
Lewis (18-5, 1 NC) was on a six-fight winning streak, the longest in the division, coming into Saturday night. A victory over Hunt would have put Lewis close to a title shot. But now it seems as if this was the final time we’ve seen him in the Octagon.
If this is truly it for him, Lewis put together a heck of a UFC run, going 9-3 with eight finishes by KO or TKO.
In the co-main event, Derek Brunson starched Daniel Kelly with a missile-like left hand at just 1:16 of the very first round. Brunson landed punches on the ground after the left, but it was basically academic from there.
Brunson (17-5) ended a two-fight losing streak with the impressive knockout. He lost a disputed decision to Anderson Silva the last time out at UFC 208 in February. Brunson, 33, said afterward he still wants to work toward a title shot and wants Antonio Carlos Junior next.
It looked to be a rebound performance for Ross Pearson. But it ended with Pearson out cold and Dan Hooker celebrating in front of his hometown fans.
Hooker finished Pearson with a highlight-reel standing knee at 3:02 of the second round. Pearson dipped down during a combination and Hooker drove the knee into his chin — and sent Pearson’s mouthpiece flying.
Hooker (14-7) had alternated wins and losses over the course of his three-year UFC career. Perhaps this is a positive omen for the 27-year-old Kiwi. Pearson (19-14, 1 NC) has lost four straight and the 32-year-old’s long UFC — since 2009 — could be coming to close.
“I feel like I’m going to have to spend a few days reflecting on this,” Hooker said. “All I could envision was the bell ringing so now that it’s all done, I’m going to sit back on the farm and enjoy this experience. It’s an amazing feeling to have everyone here in Auckland see me fight.”
Now, that was a perfect performance worthy of his nickname.
Ben Nguyen, whose moniker is “10,” finished Tim Elliott by submission with a rear-naked at choke at just 37 seconds of the first round. Nguyen landed some hard strikes, won a scramble, ended up on Elliott’s back and ended it quickly.
Nguyen (18-6) has now won two in a row after the lone loss in his UFC career against Louis Smolka last July. The South Dakota native, who now lives in Australia sports a 4-1 UFC record. Nguyen, 28, is looking like a promising name in the flyweight division moving forward. Elliott (14-8-1) has lost two of three, but one of those was a tough decision defeat against champion Demetrious Johnson.
Ion Cutelaba didn’t need his skin colored green this time to look like “The Hulk.”
The Moldovan light heavyweight smashed Henrique da Silva in just 22 seconds Saturday night. A right hand followed by a combination dropped da Silva and Cutelaba finished violently with ground and pound. It was a huge performance for the 23-year-old prospect.
Cutelaba (12-3, 1 NC) rebounded from a loss to Jared Cannonier back in December. Da Silva (12-3) has now lost three in a row in the UFC.
“I was in a rush because I have a baby at home who is going to sleep soon and I wanted to say goodnight!” Cutelaba said afterward.” I want to have memorable fights and that is what I did tonight. I am ready to fight again soon. Whoever the UFC will give me, I will finish them.”
Vinc Pichel has not fought in more than three years. But he said this week that he didn’t believe in ring rust. The California native doubled down on that in a big way Saturday night.
“F*ck ring rust!” Pichel told the camera after a knockout of Damien Brown at 3:37 of the first round on the prelims.
Brown rushed in with Pichel against the cage and Pichel made him pay with a combination that landed flush. A straight right dropped Brown and that was it.
Pichel (10-1) is now on a three-fight winning streak, thought he has not fought since beating Anthony Njokuani by unanimous decision at UFC 173 in May 2014. Brown (17-10) had won two in a row coming in and the Aussie was looking like a promising addition to the lightweight division.
Alexander Volkanovski defeated a game Mizuto Hirota by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27) in the main card opener.
Also on the prelims, John Moraga defeated debuting Ashkan Mokhtarian by unanimous decision, Zak Ottow beat Kiichi Kunimoto by split decision, Luke Juneau had a successful first foray in beating Dominique Steele by unanimous decision
On the Fight Pass prelims, J.J. Aldrich defeated debuting prospect Chan Mi Jeon, who is just 19 years old, by unanimous decision.