If you're looking for a feel-good story in the world of mixed martial arts (MMA), look no further than the surprising career resurrection of one of the hardest hitting men in the sport, Mark Hunt.
Heading into Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) on a five-fight losing streak, the "Super Samoan" failed to make a splash in his debut, losing to Sean McCorkle in the second round of their UFC 119 fight. Surprisingly, Hunt was given an opportunity to redeem himself and narrowly avoided the dreaded pink slip.
Making the most of his opportunity, Hunt has now reeled off three straight victories over Chris Tuchscherer, Ben Rothwell and Cheick Kongo. The hard-hitting heavyweight was on such a roll that his loyal fans, "The Army of Doom," hit the Twitter boards and started a rally to the powers that be at Zuffa to allow Mark to step in for Alistair Overeem against UFC heavyweight kingpin Junior dos Santos at UFC 146 on May 26, 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Though the support was strong, UFC president Dana White stated, "It ain't going to happen."
Hunt was to remain on the card to take on the towering Stefan Struve in the promotion's first all-heavyweight main card, and in the process, look for his fourth consecutive win and get himself closer to a potential title shot.
One week away from the event, an unfortunate injury to the former K-1 Grand Prix Champion forced him to bow out of his scheduled fight and add yet another crushing blow to the stacked event. With the injury, Lavar Johnson got the call to step in against Struve, leaving Hunt to face the road to recovery.
Speaking on The MMA (After) Hour, the New Zealander talked about the disappointment he feels after making the tough decision to pull out of the fight, which happens to be the first time he's had to do so in his eight year MMA career.
Check it out:
"I am so gutted about this. I never pulled out of any fight, this is the first time ever in my whole career that I actually pulled out of a fight because of an injury. I've never been injured before. I put so much work into this fight, you know? I trained hard, it's just so disappointing for me now. I was going to go and do the fight anyway, I was still trying to tell my mind not to do it. When a fighter goes into the Octagon, the ring, they go in one hundred percent. They go in bazookas, guns and everything. You don't go in there to a fight with a butter knife. If you go in there you're supposed to go a hundred percent. If one fighter goes in there fifty percent, he is giving the other fighter the other fifty percent. So the other fighter is coming in a hundred and fifty percent and you only got fifty percent. So, it doesn't make sense to go in there. I don't think Stefan Struve would have liked to beat me the way I am injured anyway. So, I might as well would have just said, 'Here, take the fight, I don't want it.' It was disappointing to me, I wanted to do the fight, I still want to do the fight but my brain says it's not good. You'll have one kick on the leg and then it will just be a waste of time anyways. So be smart about it and come back a different day and fight. I'm more depressed than anybody. You know, I put so much time, despite of what I was talking about before, I never really trained (like this), I put so much hard work into this and a lot of people put some time into me. I wanted to gout there and prove that I'm a better fighter, but, the Lord has a plan for everyone and I'm just disappointed it happened. It's just the way it is, it's the first time pulling out of a fight with an injury. I could go in there and fight but you won't see much of a fight. Your probably see me get a hurting for three rounds and that's about it. I don't think you want that."
As evidenced by some recent pictures floating around, which you can see here, Hunt did indeed look to be in the best fighting shape of his career.
The heavy-handed brawler revealed that a tear in his meniscus is the root of the problem and though he still wanted to take the fight, people around him convinced him that it would just be better to bow out, recover, and come back one hundred percent.
"The Super Samoan" is now scheduled to undergo surgery to repair his knee and is looking at a couple of months of recovery time.
Upon his return, Hunt says he wouldn't mind facing the winner of the Struve vs. Johnson showdown, both of which could prove to be very intriguing match-ups.
Do you agree?