It’s been awhile since we’ve seen Mark Hunt. After he beat surging contender Derrick Lewis last Summer, he disappeared across the sea like Godzilla at the end of a movie. As he winds down his legendary career, he returns at UFC 221 in Perth to fight Curtis Blaydes. As a fighter who has only been in the UFC for two years, the relative newcomer knows what it means to step into the Octagon with the Super Samoan. Even comparing him to Michael Jordan or Charles Barkley.
“I’m appreciative that the UFC’s gonna give me the chance to fight a living legend. I wasn’t expecting it so soon, but I’m happy they did it. I’m looking forward to putting on a show. My hands have gotten a lot better and I know his hands are very dangerous, but with my hands, plus my wrestling — I think it’s a great fight. I’ve always respected Mark Hunt, I don’t have the style, obviously, but you can’t help respect a guy who’s been doing it for as long as he has at the level he has. I know he doesn’t have the best record, but everyone knows he only fights the best of the best.”
— UFC Europe (@UFCEurope) December 13, 2017
“It’s been weird, I feel for him. I feel like he’s done so much for combat sport as a whole. He’s like a Michael Jordan or Charles Barkley. He should be able to ask for whatever he wants to. I watched a lot of his highlights — him dropping guys, I know he’s got a nasty hook. I can already see myself slipping an uppercut and thinking, ‘Oh my god, I just slipped a Mark Hunt uppercut. There’s a lot of that, but there’s still a job that I’ve gotta do. It’s going to be a tough fight. He’s a veteran and isn’t going to bring any outside nonsense to the cage. He’s going to be there to win.” — Curtis Blaydes speaking to Sporting News.
Just because Curtis Blaydes respects living legend Mark Hunt, doesn’t mean he’ll show him any respect in the cage. Ranked ninth, a win over Hunt would rocket him up in the rankings potentially into the top five. As for PRIDE veteran and K-1 grand prix champ Mark Hunt, if he takes out the young lion then he’ll get closer to get a huge fight to walk away from the UFC. It all goes down next weekend headlined by Yoel Romero and Luke Rockhold for the interim middleweight title.
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 2/2/2018.