Mark Hunt UFC 119-007-478x270The Ultimate Fighting Championship didn’t want Mark Hunt and offered to pay him to go away, but Hunt knew something the UFC didn’t; he was a top heavyweight in the world despite his Pride FC record.

UFC president Dana White explained following the UFC 158: St-Pierre vs. Diaz pre-fight press conference on Thursday how Hunt went from unwanted to being one punch away from a title fight.

“(UFC matchmaker) Joe Silva was doing the deal to sign Mark Hunt for the (Junior dos Santos) fight.  They were going back and forth, and Joe Silva called and said they turned down the fight.  There’s a lot of different ways you can turn down a fight,” said White.

“I ended up calling Mark Hunt.  When I talked to him, he was upset about a lot of things, a lot of things I didn’t know about.  We talked.  We had a good conversation.  Then I called him back and fixed some of the things he was talking about, and now he’s back and we ended up getting the fight done.”

Hunt felt disrespected and unwanted, and rightfully so.

“There were a lot of things that he was upset about.  One of the big things that happened with Mark Hunt was he felt very disrespected and felt like he never really belonged here because recently when we did this Pride deal, he had a contract in place with Pride.  We didn’t want to bring him into the UFC because he had a losing record in Pride.  We didn’t want to bring him into the UFC, so we said, listen, we’ll pay you the money and you can ride off in the sunset at the end of the day.  He was like, ‘(expletive) that.  I want to be paid to fight.  I want to come in and fight.’  First of all, a losing record, his age, everything. The guy hadn’t fought in a long time.  It was like it makes no sense to bring this guy in,” explained the UFC president.

“He fought it and fought it and fought it.  Finally we said, fine.  You want to earn the money and fight anybody, come on in.  Since that day, how we didn’t want him and have him basically go away, he took incredible offense to that and then never really felt like he fit or belonged here.  I understand that,” he added.

“I said I’m going to fix the things that have made you feel this way.  I understand why you feel this way and I’m sorry that this happened to you.  We do respect you, and I think you’re one of the best stories in sports right now to be honest with you.  It took a couple of days.  I got everything worked out, and now he’s ecstatic and happy, and I’m happy that I could do it,” said White.

Hunt was on a five-fight losing streak when he made his UFC debut against Sean McCorkle at UFC 119 in September 2010.  He was submitted by McCorkle in just over a minute, but the UFC didn’t release him from contract.

“We just didn’t cut him.  We kept him.  Now imagine had we cut him,” reflected White.

“Even though we weren’t wrong, we ended up being wrong.  He proved us wrong.  He proved anyone who doubted him wrong.”

Since the loss to McCorkle, Hunt has gone on a four-fight winning streak, finishing three of the four opponents by knockout.  He earned Knockout of the Night honors in his last outing at UFC on Fuel TV 8: Silva vs. Stann on March 3, breaking Stefan Struve’s jaw in the process.

Hunt faces dos Santos at UFC 160 on May 25, from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.  A win over dos Santos will put Hunt in line for a UFC title fight.

“If he knocks Junior dos Santos out, I mean, how is this guy not next in line?  It would be crazy to think that he couldn’t,” said White.

Asked if the Hunt vs. dos Santos fight is a No. 1 contender bout, White answered, “I would have to say yeah.”

Be sure to Like MMAWeekly.com on Facebook and Follow @MMAWeeklycom on Twitter.

view original article >>
Report here if this news is invalid.

Related News

Alistair Overeem calls out Junior dos Santos, tells UFC President Dana White to 'make it happen'

  • 27 days ago
  • 42 views

He even included that little fist emoji, so we know he's serious this time. Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) heavyweight contender Alistair Overeem, fresh off a "Big Country" beatdown in Dallas, read news >>

Dana White reveals that Jose Aldo would have ‘probably would've made close to $4 million’

  • 27 days ago
  • 5 views

UFC President Dana White reveals that Jose Aldo was set to make close to $4 million at UFC 189. Prior to Jose Aldo's withdrawal from the highly anticipated UFC 189 event, it was clear that the feathe read news >>

Morning Report: Dana White says Jose Aldo 'probably would have made close to four million' at UFC 189

  • 27 days ago
  • 10 views

As if featherweight champion Jose Aldo couldn't feel any lower, apparently his absence at UFC 189 has only added to the appeal. At least that's the line UFC president Dana White is going with. Accord read news >>

Conor McGregor Bet Dana White $3 Million He’d KO Chad Mendes at UFC 189

  • 27 days ago
  • 94 views

So confident is Conor McGregor that he bet his employers $3 million he'll knock out Chad Mendes at UFC 189. read news >>

Alistair Overeem campaigns for fight with Junior dos Santos

  • 28 days ago
  • 49 views

UFC heavyweight contender Alistair Overeem is eyeing Junior dos Santos as his next opponent. Three years ago, Alistair Overeem vs. Junior dos Santos was the talk of the sport. 'The Reem' entered the read news >>

Dana White: Jose Aldo 'probably would have made close to four million' at UFC 189

  • 28 days ago
  • 39 views

The UFC president was a guest on The Russillo Show on ESPN Radio on Tuesday (July 7, 2015) and he disclosed just how much money Jose Aldo was set to earn at UFC 189. Jose Aldo may have withdrawn from read news >>

Dana White: Conor McGregor tried to bet me $3 million he would knockout Chad Mendes at UFC 189

  • 28 days ago
  • 25 views

And as early as the second round, no less. You certainly can't accuse Conor McGregor of being short on confidence. That became evident after the smooth-talking Irishman tried to bet Ultimate Fighting read news >>

Dana White: UFC 189 passed U.S. gate record following McGregor-Mendes announcement

  • 28 days ago
  • 40 views

The sense of disappointment when Jose Aldo had to drop out of his scheduled UFC 189 main event against Conor McGregor due to a broken rib was widespread. But the idea this would be a deathblow proved read news >>

UFC President Dana White Says Conor McGregor Tried to Bet $3 Million on Himself

  • 28 days ago
  • 34 views

Conor McGregor is confident ahead of his UFC 189 matchup against Chad Mendes on Saturday, July 11. Confident to the tune of $3 million, in fact. According to UFC President Dana White, McGregor made a read news >>

Dana White: Conor McGregor offered to bet us $3 million he'd knock out Chad Mendes

  • 28 days ago
  • 515 views

How confident is Conor McGregor in his finishing abilities? So much so, that the featherweight superstar was willing to bet his bosses seven figures on when he'd knock out Chad Mendes. McGregor has b read news >>