Fighting is a perilous game. Time and time again, we’ve seen premier combat sports athletes decline into physical and mental disrepair, oftentimes until they exist as little more than stuttering stacks of bones, entirely unrecognizable from the seemingly unstoppable behemoths they once were.
In a poignant piece written on Wednesday for Players Voice, UFC heavyweight Mark Hunt explored the decline so many fighters endure, explaining that he’s at peace with that decline – that he’s even ok with dying in a fight – so long as it all occurs on a level playing field. That means no performance enhancing drugs.
“I will probably end my life fighting,” Hunt said (via MMAFighting.com).
“I’ve been fighting since I was a child, fighting to get out of my circumstances. I used to make $300 a week, struggling to put food on the table but I have become one of the highest-paid fighters in the world. I feel that’s destiny. This is what I’m supposed to be doing and if I die fighting, that’s fine. I just hope that if it does happen, it will be in an honest and fair competition.
“My body is f**ked but my mind is still here. I’ve still got my senses about me and I know what’s right and wrong, which is the main thing. Sometimes I don’t sleep well. You can hear me starting to stutter and slur my words. My memory is not that good anymore. I’ll forget something I did yesterday but I can remember the s**t I did years and years ago. That’s just the price I’ve paid – the price of being a fighter. But I’ve fought a lot of drug cheats and copped a lot of punishment from guys who were cheating and that’s not right.”
In this piece, Mark Hunt also plunged into the effects he believed PED-abusing opponents have had on his career:
“I’d be champ already if it wasn’t for the cheaters. I’d probably be retired, sitting at home playing video games all day, eating KFC. These guys couldn’t cut it with me if they weren’t cheating. I’ve missed out on sponsors and millions of dollars. It pisses me off when I think about it. If you take away all my fights against juicers, it would probably be half of my fight record gone. I paid my way to the top with blood and sweat, these guys had to enhance themselves to get here.
“Everyone says the first Bigfoot fight is one of the greatest heavyweight bouts of all time, but not for me. It’s stained. That guy ruined everything. You take away his juice and he’s nothing. The first fight we had, we nearly killed each other. The second fight, when he was clean, he didn’t even last a round. He wasn’t the same person as the one that almost frigging killed me.”
What do you think of these comments from Mark Hunt?
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 9/13/2017.