LAS VEGAS – It’s always a long trip for Mark Hunt when he heads to the States from Australia. But this one must’ve seemed even longer.
Hunt (9-7 MMA, 4-1 UFC) was mired in a bit of a no-man’s land for a while, stuck in Australia when the visa he needed to come to U.S. for his scheduled Saturday fight with Junior dos Santos (15-2 MMA, 9-1 UFC) at UFC 160 wasn’t getting approved.
With that hurdle cleared earlier this week, and Hunt now in Las Vegas for the co-main event at MGM Grand Garden Arena, he said he’s feeling better than he imagined he would be – especially after the helpless feeling he had while waiting to hear if he’d be fighting or still stuck at home.
“Sometimes, I felt a bit down and at a loss,” Hunt told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) on Thursday. “But I just had to keep training because I knew I was going to get here at the end. For me, it was a matter of how much time I’d have to get used to this time (change). What are you going to say? There was nothing I could do about it – I was just in limbo, waiting. So I’d go home and I can’t do anything about it. You’re talking about the U.S. government.”
Hunt is no stranger to a certain feeling of helplessness. But last time, he fought back against it.
When the UFC owed him fights from his former PRIDE contract, the heavyweight was asked if he’d just take the money and not worry about fighting.
But Hunt wanted to fight – he didn’t care who thought he might not be up to the UFC’s level. And on his current four-fight win streak of upsets, he’s proven he was right.
“Look, man – it’s hard to be told you’re not wanted,” Hunt said. “As a kid, a lot happened to me and the same thing – no one wants to be told they’re not good enough. ‘What do you mean, I’m not good enough? Don’t tell me I’m not good enough.’ That just burns more fire in my tank to get to where I want to be. I’m sure a lot of people have been to a job interview and been declined or told, ‘We’ll call you.’ That’s how I felt.”
After a submission loss in his UFC debut against Sean McCorkle that left him at 5-7 in MMA, Hunt knocked out Chris Tuchscerer, outpointed Ben Rothwell, then scored his most impressive wins yet – knockouts of Cheick Kongo and Stefan Struve.
When Alistair Overeem couldn’t fight dos Santos thanks to an injury, Hunt got the call after a little back-and-forth before things finally were settled.
And he knows that without question, it won’t get any bigger than this. A win over JDS very well could lead to a title shot for him against the winner of Saturday’s main event between champ Cain Velasquez and Antonio Silva.
“This is the biggest fight for me, but it’s just another fight at the end of the day,” Hunt said. “Of course, this is the moment for me. And of course, we talk about acclimatizing. But I’m not going to use it as an excuse if I lose. I’m not going to use any excuse. I’m not that kind of fighter or person.”
Hunt knows one thing for sure – if he wins on Saturday, there’s no reason he shouldn’t be next in line for the title.
“I feel if I beat JDS this weekend, I should get the shot,” Hunt said. “But whatever happens, happens. … I’m always the underdog for every fight, and I probably always will be.”
For the latest on UFC 160, stay tuned to the UFC Rumors section of the site.
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