is a man who has seen his ups and downs during more than
two decades of fighting.
The 2001 K-1 world grand prix champion, Hunt transitioned to mixed
martial arts in 2004 and won five of his first six bouts before
dropping six straight fights. Though initially unwanted by the
UFC during the organization’s buyout of Pride, Hunt shocked
many observers by winning four straight contests after stumbling in
his UFC debut.
Now, the 39-year-old likely stands just one victory away from a
title shot, as the New Zealander meets former champion Junior dos
Santos on Saturday night at UFC
160. Although many fans and media members counted Hunt out
during his losing streak, the heavyweight recently told Sherdog.com
that he never lost faith in himself.
“Other people may be surprised, but I’ve always believed I was the
best fighter in the world,” Hunt said. “I’m just trying to prove it
in a different sport. Twelve years after winning the K-1 world
title -- whatever happened in between -- it just shows that I’m not
a quitter. You understand that? I’m here till the end.
“It’s been 22 years [I’ve been] a fighter. I had my first fight a
week after meeting my first trainer. When God says it’s time for me
to be done, then I’m done. In my heart, I still think I’m supposed
to be fighting,” Hunt continued. “That’s why I’m still here, after
six losses in a row, getting beaten down and still coming back.
It’ll happen when I’m told it’s going to happen. If it comes this
weekend that I don’t feel like fighting anymore, that’s what’s
going to happen, but they’ll have to carry me out of the cage. I’ll
go out on my back. I don’t give a damn.”
In dos Santos, Hunt faces a heavy-handed Brazilian whose lone UFC
loss came to reigning champion Cain
Velasquez. Much like his opponent, “Cigano” has earned the vast
majority of his victories by way of knockout, a fact of which Hunt
-- a man known for his iron chin and punching power -- is well
“It’s the heavyweight division, and anything can make this really,
really dangerous for the other person. Honestly, if he thinks
there’s not going to be [danger] if I touch him with anything, he’s
going to be in trouble,” said Hunt. “I’ve always said that anyone
can be knocked out. It’s just a matter of where, when and how you
get hit. It doesn’t matter how hard you hit. It’s just a matter of
timing. If they get it right, you’re done.”
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