UFC Posts Farewell to Super Samoan Mark Hunt

Mark Hunt, among the bonus winners at UFC Auckland
Mark Hunt Credit: Taro Irei/Sherdog.com

It looks like UFC Adelaide was in fact Mark Hunt’s final bow in the UFC, and after Saturday’s fight, the UFC paid the heavyweight their respects.

UFC Adelaide was almost certainly Mark Hunt’s final outing in the UFC. And while it didn’t turn out the way he wanted, Hunt, who has been at odds with the company for the past several years, has been given a show of respect by the promotion. Following the event, the UFC’s official Instagram account posted a farewell to the popular slugger.

“Legend. Thank you for everything,” the statement read, with an accompanying video snippet.

Hunt (13–14–1 (1NC)) infamously was told to stay home when the UFC acquired Pride in 2007. The promotion offered to buy out his contract, valued at close to half a million dollars. Hunt declined, instead choosing to compete. Making his UFC debut in 2010, he lost — his sixth straight defeat. Then, the unlikely turnaround. Hunt won his next four bouts, against names including Ben Rothwell, Cheick Kongo, and Stefan Struves.

Fans were solidly in Hunt’s corner. A loss to Junior Dos Santos didn’t change that. Then Hunt put on a heavyweight classic against Bigfoot Silva that ended in a draw (Hunt would later win their rematch). He became the first and only man to knock out Roy Nelson in the UFC. The led to an interim title fight against Fabricio Werdum, though Hunt was put away by a knee.

However, UFC 200 in 2016 saw Hunt’s relationship with the UFC sour. Paired up with Brock Lesnar, he was taken down and pounded on over three rounds, losing a decision. Then came news that Lesnar had failed a pre-fight drug test, but the results hadn’t come back in time to stop the fight. Given Lesnar had been allowed to bypass the usual USADA testing period for returning fighters, Hunt was livid. He sued both the UFC and Lesnar, a lawsuit that is still ongoing today.

Hunt was unhappy with the number of drug cheats he’d been fighting. Bigfoot Silva, Ben Rothwell, Alistair Overeem, Frank Mir, Fabricio Werdum, Brock Lesnar — so many of his foes in the UFC would go on to fail drug tests. Even Junior Dos Santos would test positive for a tainted supplement, though he was later cleared of any intentional wrong doing.

Hence Hunt fighting out his contract on Saturday in Adelaide. He finished his post-fight speech saying he’d see fans “somewhere else.” With fight still left in him, he’d be a great fit for Bellator, RIZIN, and especially ONE Championship, who have made some big moves in recent months.

Of course, it’s unlikely the drug testing situation will be any better in those promotions. However, Hunt mainly just needs a change of scenery. And despite what amounts to a messy breakup, the UFC made an admirable choice in taking the high road and wishing Hunt well.