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Mark Hunt leaving UFC after contract expires, plans to fight globally before retirement

UFC 221 Open Workouts Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

While Mark Hunt has done nearly everything there is to do in mixed martial arts (MMA), the unflappable heavyweight veteran will look to add to his resume tomorrow night (Sat., Feb. 10, 2018) at UFC 221 live on pay-per-view (PPV) from inside Perth Arena in Perth, Australia, when he takes on rising contender Curtis Blaydes.

Hunt, 43, has had an up-and-down UFC career to say the least. Not only has “Super Samoan” failed to cash in on divisional gold, but he’s currently in a legal battle with the promotion over Brock Lesnar’s UFC 200 debacle. Lesnar was the third UFC heavyweight to test positive for performance-enhancing drugs after a bout with Hunt (Frank Mir and Antonio Silva being the other two).

For obvious reasons, Hunt can’t wait to cut ties with UFC and continue his fighting career outside of the biggest MMA promotion in the world. Of course, the knockout artist will have to fulfill his current contract obligations before stepping away from UFC for good. That means we’ll see Hunt compete inside of the Octagon two more times after UFC 221.

“I get reminded all the time I am the oldest fighter in the universe,” Hunt told MMAjunkie. “I’ve got three fights left with the UFC, because I haven’t had a good run with a lot of things that’s happened with them. Everyone knows I’m in court about having to get an even playing field. They called me a whiny bitch, but they can all get (expletive). I survived the era of PRIDE, where everyone knowingly juices. I’m here now and they’re trying to make it even.

“After the three fights with the UFC, I’d like to fight globally three more times and then retire. Hang it up. I want to go out there in my best shape ever and compete. I feel like I can compete still with these young guys, even though they’re half my age.”

Hunt, who captured a fourth-round TKO win over hard-hitting Derrick Lewis this past June, doesn’t have much to gain from a win over Blaydes this weekend in Perth. Still, “Super Samoan” is focused on delivering stellar results in a co-main event fight that could quickly turn dangerous.

“I didn’t know anything about Curtis,” Hunt said. “I have no disrespect for Curtis. All I ask if that he be an honest, clean fighter. That’s all I ask. That’s all I ever ask. … Of course you can’t look past Curtis. This is the heavyweight division. He’s looking to wrestle me and put me down and grind me out. I’m looking to punch his head into the universe.”

If Hunt is able to take Blaydes’ head off in front of a wild Australian crowd at UFC 221 then his divisional stock with once again be on a meteoric rise. After all, the UFC heavyweight class is extremely thin these days, leaving a proven finisher like Hunt just one or two wins away from immediate title contention.

MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 221 fight card, starting with the Fight Pass “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on FOX Sports 1 at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET.

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