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Monday, 04/09/2012, 05:52 pm

The rally for Mark Hunt – A true underdog story


By Lewis Mckeever:
Unless you have been living under a rock for the past few days, I’m sure you’re currently aware of the Mark Hunt situation; the rally for Mark Hunt and his quest for UFC gold. Hunt has been trending on twitter, building an online army of dedicated troops, smashing through Facebook polls and most importantly, smashing through the UFC’s heavyweight division.

Whilst all logic and rationale point towards a Frank Mir/Junior Dos Santos match up, in an interesting twist of events, it’s looking increasingly likely that the “Super Samoan” will square off against the UFC’s heavyweight kingpin Dos Santos as a potential replacement for Alistair Overeem. *WARNING*, this isn’t about logic or rationale; this is about the imagining and unfolding of one of the most captivating underdog stories in mixed martial arts history.

It started off as just a minuscule, cult like legion of Hunt enthusiasts on a mission to fast track their idol into title contention and has progressed and developed into somewhat of an online phenomenon. As the old saying goes; all great journeys begin with a single step. In just a few days Mark Hunt has garnered a militia of seven thousand plus followers on twitter, that number growing and multiplying each passing day. If you’re not overly familiar with the career of Mark Hunt, you may very well be perched in your chair scratching your head at this point, wondering what all of the fuss is about. Allow me to elaborate.

Numbers and statistics don’t tell a story, if you just want to look at the figures then you’ll never come to terms with Mark Hunt being granted a UFC title shot, you’ll never have an understanding of legendary hall of famer Randy Couture’s career. There’s much more to Mark Hunt than an underwhelming 8-7 MMA resume.

Hunt has been the underdog throughout his entire combat sports career. He was never set to win the K-1 world grand prix, never destined to become a champion, never supposed to put a screeching halt to Wanderlei Silvas reign of terror in Pride, never even have thought to compete in the UFC, but here he is. Here Mark Hunt stands, at 5 ft 10 inches tall, 264 pounds, ready to defy all odds and rewrite the history books once again.

The highlights of Mark Hunt’s rollercoaster of a career are no doubt his spectacular 2001 K-1 world grand prix victory and his back to back wins against Croatian cop; Mirko Filipović and Pride sensation; Wanderlei Silva. It’s also worth noting that the proud Samoan is the only man to ever simply shrug off the legendary Mirko Crocop left high cemetery kick, not once, but twice. Surviving two Mirko high kicks alongside absorbing a ludicrous amount of punishment throughout his emphatic kick boxing career (most notably his heart stopping bout against fellow Aussie Ray Sefo, which featured Mark Hunt dropping his hands, sticking his chin out in the air and simply allowing Sefo to hit him with his best shots) has earned him quite the reputation amongst fans worldwide.

Whilst folk are quick to critique Hunt’s reputation and focus on his seven MMA losses, it’s important to analyse those defeats and look beyond the numbers. Mark Hunt hasn’t been losing against your run of the mill fighters. Mark has suffered setbacks against some of the most prestigious and elite household names in the sport; the enigmatic Russian, Fedor Emelianenko at the peak of his career, a rampant Gegard Mousasi who was riding an 11 fight winning streak, Heavyweight juggernaut Alistair Overeem and powerhouse catch wrestler Josh Barnett. Four of those seven losses come against a who’s who in the world of mixed martial arts and it’s imperative to note that all of them are resilient grapplers, all of whom submitted Mr Hunt. This leads me to my next point.

Styles make fights. Heavyweight titan Junior Dos Santos is not a submission based grappler, although he trains under BJJ all-star Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, “Cigano” has not demonstrated any real submission grappling skills to date. His take down defence and defensive wrestling have proven to be top notch, but we have yet to see Dos Santos on the ground for any real extended period of time. Therefore, it’s unlikely to suggest that Junior would overwhelm Hunt in the grappling department. Another key note is that Mark Hunt has shown progressive improvement throughout his current three fight winning streak in the UFC, especially in the field of grappling. Most notable in his fight against Ben Rothwell, where Hunt was close to pulling off what seemed to be the impossible, securing an arm bar and locking up his first submission victory. His casual knock out of the always intimidating Cheick Kongo was also highly impressive, Hunt now being one of two men to stop Kongo via strikes.

Let’s also not forget that one of the primary reasons Alistair Overeem challenging for the title was such an enticing match up was because he is a K-1 world champion. Why not trade one for the other? Mark Hunt is a proven world class kickboxer, possessing an array of brutal knock out power, excellent timing, deceptively quick hands and a cast iron chin.

I ask you, the fans, to disregard your logic and rationality for this one and to just embrace the inner MMA fan boy in us all. Sit back, relax and get lost in one of the greatest Cinderella man story’s in mixed martial arts today.

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