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History in the making: Mark Hunt resurrects his mixed martial arts (MMA) career by destroying Chris Tuchscherer

"I'm not interested in money or any of that crap anymore. I don't care if I have $10 million or $10 in my pocket. It's not about that, it's about proving I'm good enough." --Mark Hunt

Mark Kolbe

Mark Hunt was not welcome in Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).

When the world's largest mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion purchased its biggest rival, PRIDE Fighting Championship, it assumed control of its roster, as well, which meant everyone under contract for the Japanese-based organization had an obligation to finish out their remaining fights inside the Octagon.

Well, almost everyone.

Hunt was entitled to a pair of bouts under the ZUFFA banner, but was instead offered a buyout to keep him from stinking up the joint. Don't go away mad, just go away. After all, the New Zealander was already 36 years old and the owner of a putrid five-fight losing streak, all of them finishes.

UFC President Dana White, however, had no idea who he was dealing with.

"He had a losing record in PRIDE and we didn't want to bring him into the UFC," White recalls. "So we said, ‘We'll pay you the money and you can ride off into the sunset and do your thing.' And he was like, ‘Fuck that. I want to be paid to fight.' First of all, a losing record, his age, the guy hadn't fought in a long time. It just made no sense to bring the guy in."

And after a submission loss to Sean McCorkle in Hunt's UFC debut back in September 2010 (which came after White's leap of faith), it appeared as though the brusque promoter was accurate in his assessment.

Hunt, however, barely batted an eyelash.

The winner of the 2001 K-1 World Grand Prix Championship was cool as a cucumber heading into his sophomore effort, a UFC 127 "Prelims" fight -- untelevised -- against fellow floundering 265-pounder Chris Tuchscherer on February 27, 2011, at the Acer Arena in Sydney, Australia.

But the "Super Samoan" was well aware of the fact that this was a "loser leaves town" match.

In addition, Tuchscherer was the betting favorite at -275. Not only was "Crowbar" 21-3 in his professional career, compared to his opponent's 5-7, he was also a two-time NCAA Division II All-American wrestler and widely-expected to exploit Hunt's suspect ground game.

Made sense at the time.

Instead, the former plumber found himself in deep water against the portly power-puncher, eventually succumbing to a fight-ending uppercut, one devastating enough to turn out the lights and earn Hunt his first -- but not his last -- "Knockout of the Night" post-fight bonus.

Don't call it a comeback.

Resurrection would be more appropriate, as Hunt used his win over Tuchscherer as a springboard into heavyweight title contention. In fact, a win over Junior dos Santos at UFC 160 would have done the unthinkable, and catapulted a fighter once deemed unfit to hang in the big leagues, straight into a championship fight against Cain Velasquez.

Alas, it was not meant to be.

That said, Hunt still compiled a four-fight winning streak, one that included a jaw-busting performance against Stefan Struve. It also helps that fans adore him, which explains his spot in the UFC Fight Night 33 main event against Antonio Silva, which takes place this Friday night (Dec. 6, 2013) in Queensland, Australia.

And "Bigfoot" knows a thing or two about knockouts.

Whether or not Hunt has already peaked -- and perhaps missed his chance at a Cinderella story -- or simply suffered a temporary setback en route to the promised land, remains to be seen. One thing is for sure, we can't expect one loss to keep him from getting to the top.

Or five.

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