Mark Hunt Says He’s Still ‘one of the f****ng best’
MMA is a young man’s game, and a very unforgiving one at that. If you are a fighter in your late 30s, or in your 40s like UFC heavyweight Mark Hunt (13-11-1 1NC), chances are that you’re close to being on your last legs.
Not the “Super Samoan,” though. The tread on the tires of one of the sport’s most dangerous punchers still passes the penny test.
Hunt, 43, who is currently the No.5-ranked UFC heavyweight, just continues spitting in the face of ‘Ol Father Time. On Sunday, the Kiwi veteran will face No.9-ranked contender Curtis Blaydes at UFC 221, inside Perth Arena in Perth, Australia.
A veteran of over 70 fights between MMA, kickboxing and boxing, Hunt defeated Derrick Lewis by TKO in his last bout, proving to be an ageless warrior once again. He will turn 44-years-old in March and is still competing at a high level.
What does he attribute that to?
“I attribute that to being one of the best f***ing fighters in the world,” Hunt told FIGHT SPORTS. “That’s what it is (laughs).”
Hunt’s opponent Blaydes, is 17 years his junior, but Hunt doesn’t appear to be too concerned about him. In fact, he admitted to not being all that familiar with Blaydes either.
“To be honest, I don’t know much about Blades,” said Hunt, who resides in Australia and will be fighting in The Land Down Under for the sixth time at UFC 221. “He’s in the Top 10 for a reason. He’s a great fighter. I have no disrespect for him. I’m looking forward to locking horns with him on Sunday.”
As for the matchup, Hunt said: “If he can’t get me down he’s in trouble. And he’s going to have a long night, actually a short night. We will see how it goes on Sunday.”
Watch UFC 221 Countdown: Hunt vs. Blaydes via UFC YouTube
After UFC 221, Hunt will have two fights remaining on his current contract. He told Australian website The Courier Mail recently that he plans on moving on after his current deal with the UFC expires, and may venture into boxing, with possible matchups against Paul Gallen or Lucas Browne.
FIGHT SPORTS asked for some clarification on the matter.
“At the end of the day I’m going to fight six more times and then move on, retire or do something [else],” Hunt said. “It is what it is. That’s just how I feel about it. I have three more fights [with the UFC]. If I can make a title run, then we will go from there.”
Six more fights?
“I’m probably the oldest fighter in the universe,” said Hunt. “And although I like competing, fighting is just one of those things that is way better than anything. You can’t get that feeling from fighting that you can from anything else. But I’ve been doing it for so long. Three more times with the UFC and then three times globally. And I can do boxing, kickboxing, whatever. We will see what happens.
“I’ll have plenty of opportunities, especially with fighting. I love to compete. I’d like to compete three more times. I’m the oldest fighter in the UFC, but if feel if I can still hang with these young guys and whip their ass, then why shouldn’t I still do it? I love to compete. If I have good energy than I will go from there and we will see what happens with these other fights. [I have to] think about Sunday first.”
Hunt was supposed to face Marcin Tybura back in November, but was pulled from the card after writing an article for Player’s Voice, where he mentioned having memory loss and that he was starting to stutter and slur his words. He’s since been cleared after the UFC brought him in to the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Brain Center in Las Vegas, Nev. to get cleared to fight again.
“It was an interview taking out of context, way out of context,” he explained. “I’m good. There is nothing wrong with me. We are hear now and I’m good.”
And, of course, there is the ongoing lawsuit vs. the UFC, which was filed in January of 2017. “I don’t like to talk about that sh*t anymore,” he said, with a tinge of annoyance in his voice. The lawsuit stems from Hunt’s fight vs. Brock Lesnar at UFC 200, where Lesnar failed multiple post-fight drug tests. Hunt is seeking financial relief for damage to his brand, and is demanding a clause be put in fight contracts that would cause an opponent to lose their entire purse should they fail a drug test.
“I don’t want to be in court, but you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do,” he explained. “I’ve been out trying to make things even. If it’s not for me, it will be for the guys coming through. You need to send a loud message out there for the people that are trying to come through and the guys that want to be pro fighters at the top end. And the message is you’ve got to be honest and hard working to get to the top and not a f***ing cheater that takes shortcuts, you know?”
Hunt, who said it’s always special to him to fight at home, will be looking to win his second fight in a row on Sunday, and says he’s “looking forward to putting on a show” for the hometown crowd. With his positioning in the UFC heavyweight rankings at No.5, a win gets him closer to a shot at the title. But since he’s made up his mind about moving on from the UFC after his contract his up, it may not happen. And for Hunt, he says he’s completely fine with that.
“If I can put it past Curtis Blades on Sunday, then I can ask for someone [ranked] higher. Then we will go from there. Of course, I’ve got three more fights. Will I get a title shot? Who knows. If I don’t get one in the end it doesn’t matter. As long as I win these next three fights, that’s all I want.”