After an old arrest more than one decade ago that was caused by an "idiot friend" stirred up recent visa problems for New Zealand's Mark Hunt, many mixed martial arts (MMA) feared that "Super Samoan" would be unable to make his scheduled appearance to fight Junior dos Santos at UFC 160, which takes place in Las Vegas, Nevada, in less than two weeks (Sat., May 25, 2013).
Those concerns, seemingly, were assuaged when Hunt revealed shortly thereafter that help was on the way in the form of Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) officials. However, Hunt stated earlier this afternoon that he is still stuck in New Zealand, waiting to get his visa issues sorted out by the United States consulate.
It's an unfortunate -- and distracting -- reality that isn't sitting too well with the heavy-hitting Heavyweight just 11 days until showtime.
"I'm not like, a threat to America or anything -- I'm just ready to do my job and that's it," said Hunt during today's (May 14, 2013) UFC 160 media conference call (listen to full replay here). "I don't know what it is, I'm running out of time just to get over there and get acclimated."
The former K-1 star has competed in "Sin City" before, admitting that arriving too close to fight night isn't ideal and that he does not expect that experience to change if he is prevented from boarding a plane soon.
"I fought in Vegas once before and I went out there four days out from the fight, and that was quite tiring," Hunt said. "I was going to bed at six in the morning, American time, and everyone else was just waking up. It was a bit of a problem, so I just have to get my visa in time to get acclimatized. Hopefully soon -- tomorrow or tonight."
While Hunt's frustrations continue to mount, he is doing his best to leave it in the hands of those who can make his visa issues go away sooner rather than later. And if he is meant to compete this Memorial Day weekend then, well, that's what he is prepared to do against "Cigano."
"It's just frustrating, but what can you do? I can't do anything about it. It's not in my hands anymore," he said. "I'll just leave it in God's hands, and see whatever happens, happens."
Just when everything seems to be smelling like roses for the former Pride FC star, an international situation like this threatens to slow his momentum right when he is possibly one emphatic win away from vying for a UFC world title.
The good news is that UFC officials remained confident that Hunt will indeed be on a plane soon, headed to the fight capital of the world to compete on the sport's biggest stage. Whether or not the short amount of time that Hunt has to acclimate to the drastic time change affects his performance on fight night against his heavy-handed counterpart remains to be seen.
If nothing else, it's all the more reason for Hunt come and swinging. Unless, of course, dos Santos is keeping tabs on his whereabouts and adopts a more grappling-heavy gameplan.
We shall see ... hopefully.