Former K-1 Grand Prix kickboxing champion and Pride FC veteran, Mark Hunt, wasn't supposed to be fighting in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).
After losing five consecutive fights in PRIDE and DREAM to the likes of Josh Barnett, Fedor Emelianenko, Alistair Overeem, Melvin Manhoef and Gegard Mousasi, UFC President Dana White was positive he did not want, or need, Hunt competing inside the Octagon. So much so, in fact, that White says he offered the "Super Samoan" the money owed to him from his existing PRIDE contract once Zuffa purchased the ailing promotion, to just "go away."
Refusing to just take a payoff, Hunt insisted that he wanted to fight in the UFC and eventually made his debut at UFC 119 against Sean McCorkle, losing in the very first round via armbar, upping his losing streak to six. Hunt, however, was not cut from the promotion, but instead was given another opportunity to compete inside the Octagon.
Making the most of his opportunities, Hunt now finds himself on a three-fight win streak, which includes two knockout victories, with his latest coming last night (Feb. 25, 2012) against French striker Cheick Kongo at UFC 144 in the very first round.
Known for his heavy hands and precise striking, Hunt proved the reason he is dangerous for any opponent and that he deserves to be mentioned as one of the best strikers in the heavyweight division alongside Alistair Overeem and Junior Dos Santos.
Speaking to MMAFighting.com, the former K-1 champion talks about his impressive victory over Kongo and feels that not only is he right up there with Dos Santos and Overeem in the striking department, but he can put both of them to sleep.
Check it out:
"It feels good yeah. I'm happy I won, it wasn't much of a fight, but I am happy I won. It lasted as long as it lasted, I mean, that's how long he lasted, but it was a good fight on my side and I couldn't have scripted it any better like you said. I'm a pretty strong person, physically and mentally."
When asked if he believed if current UFC Heavyweight Champion Junior dos Santos and number one contender Alistair Overeem where better strikers than him, Hunt simply stated:
"Of course, of course I beg to differ."
On whether he felt could knock Overeem and Junior out due to his extensive kickboxing background, Hunt, being a man of few words, simply stated:
A visibly slimmer Hunt seems to be hitting his stride as he now all of sudden finds himself right in the mix in the UFC's monstrous heavyweight division. With the Strikeforce heavyweight's now joining the ranks, too, Hunt should have no problem finding another opponent to lay his heavy hands on.
With "Cigano" and "Ubereem" set to do battle later this year and no clear cut contenders lining up to challenge the winner just yet, could it be conceivable that the Samoan could be two or three impressive wins away from a title shot himself? Or, is he just one savvy Brazilian jiu-jitsu fighter away from being shown the door?
Hunt clearly packs enough dynamite in his fists to put anyone in the division asleep, but whether or not he can ever reach those heights in the division at 37 years old, with a gaping hole in his all-around skills, is a huge question mark.