When Samoan fighter Mark Hunt made his UFC debut in 2010 with a mixed martial arts record of 5-6, I wondered what he could bring to the octagon. After losing to Sean McCorkle in his UFC debut, I awaited the announcement of that he had been cut from the roster.
To my surprise Hunt was not be released from the promotion, but rather he was given another match, this time against Chris Tuchscherer. Hunt would not only score a first-round knockout over Tuchscherer, but earn his first “Knockout of the Night” bonus. This became the first of four victories for Hunt inside of the octagon.
With his latest victory over Stefan Struve at UFC on Fuel TV 8, Hunt has at least earned a match with one of the UFC’s top-ranked heavyweights.
Prior to his UFC run, Hunt had a decent run in PRIDE that included victories over Wanderlei Silva and Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic, as well as a title shot against then-heavyweight champion Fedor Emelianenko.
For Hunt, his biggest asset in the cage is his striking. With an extensive kickboxing background, that includes a 2001 K-1 World Grand Prix championship belt, Hunt’s punching can flatten anyone who steps in the cage with him. Even up against taller opponents, like Struve who is over a foot taller than the Samoan, Hunt can deliver a devastating blow if he can close the distance.
Another one of Hunt’s strengths is his durability. In most of his fights, Hunt has taken some of the hardest hits and has managed to continue in a fight. He has only been knocked out once in his career.
Hunt’s main weakness, which he seems to be improving on, is his submission defense. Since coming to the UFC and training with American Top Team, Hunt has been working on his takedown defense. He has also lost a lot of weight. While Hunt may be able to stop takedown attempts from someone like Struve, fighters with high caliber wrestling or jiu-jitsu could still take him down and control him on the mat.
Still, the K-1 champion has far exceeded my expectations in his current UFC run. If Hunt can score a win over one of the bigger names in the heavyweight division, he could be well on his way towards a title shot.
Who do you think would be a good opponent for Hunt’s next fight? Answer with a comment below or send a tweet to @alstover with the hashtag #RantMMA.