Mark Hunt has a tentative retirement plan in place, and it doesn’t include hanging up his gloves as a member of the UFC roster.
Hunt (13-11-1 MMA, 8-5-1 UFC), who meets Curtis Blaydes (9-1 MMA, 4-1 UFC) in the UFC 221 co-main event this weekend, has been locked in a legal battle with the UFC for more than a year. The heavyweight pursued action when he felt the organization knowingly allowed Brock Lesnar to compete with banned substances in his system during their match at UFC 200 in July 2016.
“The Super Samoan” has been on an anti-performance-enhancing-drug march for several years, so much so that he feels he’s effectively torpedoed his relationship with the UFC brass. Hunt, 43, said he’s fine with that, though, because once the final three fights on his current contract are complete, he plans on finishing his career elsewhere.
“I get reminded all the time I am the oldest fighter in the universe,” Hunt told MMAjunkie. “I’ve got three fights left with the UFC, because I haven’t had a good run with a lot of things that’s happened with them. Everyone knows I’m in court about having to get an even playing field. They called me a whiny bitch, but they can all get (expletive). I survived the era of PRIDE, where everyone knowingly juices. I’m here now and they’re trying to make it even.
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“After the three fights with the UFC, I’d like to fight globally three more times and then retire. Hang it up. I want to go out there in my best shape ever and compete. I feel like I can compete still with these young guys, even though they’re half my age.”
Hunt has been pouring resources into his legal fight with the UFC for months, and currently, there’s no end in sight for his case. Hunt is determined to keep pushing, though, because he believes it’s an important issue for the sport which shouldn’t be dismissed.
For Hunt, he said the push to uncover any foul play with the Lesnar situation is very important to him. It remains to be seen how long his case drags out, but Hunt said for the betterment of the sport, he’s not going to give up on his pursuit of justice.
“It probably won’t do anything (for me), but at the end of the day, it will do something for the people coming through, the boys and the girls that come to this level,” Hunt said. “The message we’re sending nowadays is it’s OK to cheat. The message we should be sending is like with (UFC heavyweight champion) Stipe (Miocic), hard work gets to the top. You can’t get to the top without hard work. We’re sending out the wrong message now that all these cheating bums can take the shortcuts. They don’t deserve to be here. They shouldn’t get money or endorsements or anything because they’re taking shortcuts.”
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Given the fact he’s the oldest fighter on the UFC roster, Hunt has perhaps more reason than anyone to attempt to find a way to create an advantage for himself. He refuses to do that, though, because he wants to set a positive example of what a clean athlete can accomplish.
Hunt, No. 10 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA heavyweight rankings, is still among the top-ranked fighters in the world. He will attempt to extent that position when he meets No. 14-ranked Blaydes in Saturday’s pay-per-view co-headliner at Perth Arena in Perth, Western Australia, following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass.
Although he admits he knew nothing about Blaydes when the matchup was offered, Hunt gladly accepted. After a solid training camp, he said he’s prepared for action.
“I didn’t know anything about Curtis,” Hunt said. “I have no disrespect for Curtis. All I ask if that he be an honest, clean fighter. That’s all I ask. That’s all I ever ask. … Of course you can’t look past Curtis. This is the heavyweight division. He’s looking to wrestle me and put me down and grind me out. I’m looking to punch his head into the universe.”
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Hunt said if he beats Blaydes he will ask for someone ranked higher than him in the heavyweight division. Hunt said he would be keen on a rematch with current champ Stipe Miocic (18-2 MMA, 12-2 UFC), who handed him a one-sided loss at UFC Fight Night 65 in May 2015.
With only two fights remaining on his UFC deal after UFC 221, though, a title shot could be beyond Hunt’s reach unless he overcomes his dispute with the company and signs a new deal.
“Of course I’d like a rematch with Stipe,” Hunt said. “He got me at a (expletive) time, but nonetheless, he’s a well-deserved champion. I know he’s a public servant, but the best thing about Stipe, is he doesn’t take steroids. He’s clean. Good on him. He’s a great champion. I’d love to dance with him again.”