Mark Hunt has been pulled from his headlining slot at UFC Fight Night 121 in Sydney over comments the heavyweight veteran made about brain damage in September. The news was revealed by the Australian outlet The Daily Telegraph.
“My body is fucked but my mind is still here," he wrote in an article for Player's Voice. "I’ve still got my senses about me and I know what’s right and wrong, which is the main thing. Sometimes I don’t sleep well. You can hear me starting to stutter and slur my words. My memory is not that good anymore. I’ll forget something I did yesterday but I can remember the shit I did years and years ago. That’s just the price I’ve paid – the price of being a fighter.”
The frank words were enough to raise concerns at UFC headquarters, who handle athletic commission matters when putting on events in places like Australia. They've announced that Fabricio Werdum will replace Hunt against Marcin Tybura at the November 18th event.
Hunt was not happy, to say the least.
But as Cain Velasquez learned and Mark is now learning, you've got to watch out when it comes to making statements in the media about your health or lack thereof.
While it sucks to lose Mark Hunt on the card and for who knows how long moving forward, safety is obviously of paramount importance and you can't fault the UFC for making the decision they did. I am a bit concerned though that their actions may have the chilling effect of killing open and honest talk about CTE and brain trauma as fighters realize the wrong words could sideline them indefinitely.