Mark Hunt is in the midst of an unlikely career resurgence. | Photo: Taro Irei/Sherdog.com
At an age when many of his contemporaries have either exited the stage or deteriorated into shells of their former selves, Mark Hunt remains a factor in the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s heavyweight division.
Hunt, 41, will face Stipe Miocic in the UFC Fight Night “Hunt vs. Miocic” main event on Saturday at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre in Adelaide, Australia, where a convincing victory could conceivably put him in position to challenge for promotional gold in an increasingly shallow weight class. “The Super Samoan” has compiled a 5-2-1 record across his last eight appearances, losing only to Junior dos Santos and Fabricio Werdum.
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“I’m getting better at my age,” Hunt told TV3 News in New Zealand. “Of course, I feel I’m the best fighter in the world. Me fighting at this level proves it at my age. I’ve said it many times: I don’t have a pedigree in any martial arts. I just get in there and whoop ass.”
Confidence remains an integral part of Hunt’s success.
“You need that because it’s a hard business,” he said. “This is the hurt business. It’s a hard business to be in all the time. It’s not like you have a bad day and something goes wrong. You have a bad day and you’re going to get freakin’ hurt or your head’s going to fly off the other side ... It’s pretty unforgiving.”
Hunt can see the light at the end of what has been a very long and successful career tunnel that includes wins over Wanderlei Silva, Mirko Filipovic, Ben Rothwell, Cheick Kongo, Stefan Struve and Roy Nelson.
The 2001 K-1 World Grand Prix winner and Pride Fighting Championships veteran last competed at UFC 180 in November, when he filled in on short notice for injured heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez. There, Hunt was cut down by a Werdum knee strike in the second round, failing in his bid to capture the interim title. He admits the fight took place under less-than-ideal circumstances from his point of view.
“Anything would be better than the last [training] camp,” Hunt said. “That wasn’t even a camp. Anything would be better than that, so this is much better.”
In Miocic, Hunt confronts a contender who has been trending upward. The 32-year-old Strong Style Fight Team representative lost a contentious decision to the aforementioned dos Santos at UFC on Fox 13 in December, the loss snapping a three-fight winning streak. Miocic has pieced together a 6-2 record since arriving in the UFC in 2011.
“It’s good for me,” Hunt said. “As a fighter, he’s above me in the rankings. Once I put him out of the way, he’s going to be behind me and then I’ll move on to the next guy.”
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The Adelaide Entertainment Centre opened in July 1991 at a cost of $44 million and underwent a $52 million redesign in 2009.