UFC Fight Night “Miocic vs. Hunt”
Saturday, May 10
Adelaide Entertainment Centre | Adelaide, Australia
A heavyweight clash between Stipe Miocic and Mark Hunt seemed like an ideal UFC Fight Night headliner for the company’s first foray into Adelaide, Australia, on May 10. Hunt is a beloved combat sports veteran and a New Zealand native whose big-punching, all-action style seemed to be a perfect test and foil for the emerging Miocic, who had just fallen short on the scorecards against former UFC heavyweight champ Junior dos Santos five months earlier. It is hard for any promoter, even the UFC, to put together a five-round heavyweight fight worth getting excited for, especially if it is not a championship bout, but Miocic-Hunt was a style matchup that promised not just bona fide action but bona fide heavyweight action, which normally means someone is going to sleep.
Unfortunately, the only folks asleep that night in Adelaide were those people tasked with protecting Hunt, who was senselessly forced to endure the beating of a lifetime, the biggest of his 20-year combat sports career, and Sherdog.com’s 2015 “Beatdown of the Year.”
For the opening 10 minutes, Miocic’s handiwork was not about brutality but clean technique and clever game planning. Over the first two rounds, Miocic rendered the 2001 K-1 World Grand Prix winner effectively useless on the feet, sticking him with jab after jab and crisp punches behind it. Miocic’s jab kept the stocky, free-swinging Hunt at distance, stunted his feints and lunges and, most importantly, did damage. Once the jab and takedown feints had Hunt sufficiently off-balance, Miocic began putting the two together, bopping Hunt with jabs, crosses and elbows standing, then twisting him to the mat with repeated single-leg takedowns.
After the second stanza, it simply looked as though Miocic was putting on the best, most complete performance of his career, but the third round is where the bout began to devolve into pure carnage worthy of enshrinement. In no way did Miocic change his patient, methodical attack on Hunt, but rather its constant, repeated implementation sapped “The Super Samoan’s” strength so seriously that he could offer no legitimate defense. The fundamental DNA of Miocic’s assault never changed, but somehow its deleterious impact began multiplying exponentially, like a virus of violence. Even if this was only a three-round bout, Miocic’s third-round demolition by itself would have ensured him a spot on this list.
By now, Hunt was a sitting duck for Miocic’s shots and even more suscepitble to the repeated singles. Worse, Hunt has historically relied on a combination of his bulbous frame and surprising agility to buck, sweep, scramble and escape on the ground, tactics which were completely negated by Miocic’s insistence on grape-vining one of Hunt’s legs at all times, then sitting on it in half guard while pounding the Kiwi up against the cage. At the halfway mark of the third round, Hunt was supine and getting beaten up, prompting referee John Sharp to tell him, “You gotta improve, Mark.”
Then, for the next 10 minutes, Sharp repeated such platitudes, over and over again, as Hunt was having his brain dribbled about the canvas. From the halfway point of round three until the bout’s conclusion 2:47 into the fifth and final frame, Hunt was in constant peril and on the precipice of being finished. Less than 90 seconds after Sharp told Hunt he had to improve position, the New Zealander got to his feet, only to be dropped by a crushing knee from Miocic, who moved straight into full mount and began punching Hunt’s face with both hands.
Hunt escaped full mount, only to keep eating copious, unyielding punches and elbows. “You gotta fight back, Mark!” yelled Sharp. Incredibly, all it took for Hunt to meet Sharp’s approval was to throw a few half-assed hammerfists while trapped, his blows doing absolutely nothing to abate Miocic’s attack. Sharp’s willingness to let Hunt get clobbered was so apparent late in round three that Miocic, while still throwing and landing damaging shots, visibly reined in his attack to avoid gassing himself, realizing that Hunt would be afforded every latitude humanly possible in the Octagon.
“I just saw that I was winning, and I was going to keep going forward until they stopped the fight or I got the decision. I didn’t care,” Miocic said. “Of course, I was looking for the finish. There’s no question I feel like I could have got it earlier, but he’s a tough guy. That’s why they let it go probably longer.”
If a 10-7 round existed in major-league MMA in 2015, it was the third round of Miocic-Hunt. Yet the bout painfully trudged on for nearly eight minutes longer. In the fourth round, a clear 10-8 in its own right, Miocic again battered Hunt, only to have Sharp tell Hunt in a perfunctory fashion to defend himself; and again, Miocic was forced to gear down his attack in an effort to conserve energy. By the end of the third, no one would have faulted Sharp, Hunt cornermen Lolo Heimuli and Steve Oliver or the ringside physician from stopping the fight. As the fourth rolled along in agonizing fashion, any single Miocic salvo would have be an appropriate place for someone to intervene. Instead, every person who had a say in halting the assault clung to the idea that “The Super Samoan” was the real, honest-to-goodness superhero that Japanese TV vignettes portrayed him as, not a 41-year-old shopworn warhorse being terrorized by a younger, fitter, more complete heavyweight.
What was crazier still about the fourth round: Despite clearly warranting 10-8 scores, Miocic actually clinched Hunt standing against the cage for most of the final minute, getting his breath back while intermittently cracking his foe. If nothing else, it gave Hunt the chance to show off his grotesquely swollen face, now resembling the combined efforts of a pistol-whipping and a severe allergic reaction. Looking at Hunt, one of the most indefatigable men to lace up any size or shape of glove, disfigured beyond recognition and gasping for air, it seemed impossible to imagine anyone letting him go back out for the fifth round. When the ringside physician came into the cage to examine Hunt, it seemed like a foregone conclusion and a TKO win for Miocic.
Instead, an actual doctor looked at Hunt, albeit not in the eyes so much as they were swollen shut, and OK’d him to keep fighting in spite of the fact that he had not been competitive at any juncture in the fight; and he had just taken the beating of a lifetime in an eight-minute window that realistically precluded him from ever sparking an “Anything can happen in MMA!” moment. The physician’s unconscionable call led to this Twitter monologue from UFC President Dana White that is as darkly humorous as it is profoundly depressing:
Now it needs to be stopped— Dana White (@danawhite) May 10, 2015
WOW!!!! Dr let it go!!!? WOW— Dana White (@danawhite) May 10, 2015
Ironically, after explicitly taking his foot off the gas pedal twice in an effort to not gas out, Miocic seemed to realize he was the only person who could help Hunt; and the only way to do that was a business-like mercy killing. Miocic grabbed another quick single, grapevined Hunt’s leg and smashed him with left hands until Sharp grasped the last strand of compassion and sensibility in his soul and finally called the fight. It was as if a crushing weight had been lifted from the collective MMA psyche. Unfortunately, it still looked as though someone had taken that crushing weight and thrown it on Hunt’s face -- repeatedly.
As grotesque as it was in actuality, as difficult as it was to watch a proud fighter be positively pummeled in front of a partisan crowd, the cold statistics of the Miocic-Hunt melee are somehow just as ugly if not more so, despite just being numbers floating on a screen.
That night in Adelaide, Miocic landed 361 total strikes, breaking a single-fight UFC mark held by Royce Gracie in a 36-minute bout two decades earlier. Hunt landed all of 46 strikes total; Miocic’s lowest successful strike output in any round was the 48 he landed in the first round. The 315-strike differential is the largest in UFC history. In the painstaking third round, Miocic topped Hunt by 119 strikes; in rounds four and five, he out-landed him 62-to-7 and 70-0. Miocic landed 57 significant strikes on the ground, where Hunt landed zero.
In the end, it does not matter if it was ignorance or delusion that led Sharp, Hunt’s corner and the ringside physician to think it remotely conscionable to let him fight beyond the third round, let alone the fourth. Hunt was still forced to take a positively savage beating because his watchmen turned into bystanders, a beatdown so profound it literally put him into the UFC record books as a pantheon-level victim, a title which does not suit “The Super Samoan” in the slightest; and for the wanton savagery that he was forced to inflict, Miocic wins an award. Mixed martial arts is so screwed up sometimes.
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