Part of a manic few days in UFC land, was the confirmation that Brock Lensar would return to the UFC and fight on an already epic UFC 200 card. Lesnar had ditched the UFC last year, sliding back into the WWE world but according to Lesnar, the itch to get back in the octagon was too strong to ignore and when an athlete like Lesnar decides that he wants another opportunity in the octagon, the UFC and WWE would be silly not to play ball. Lesnar makes money and he knows it.
The return of Lesnar was the headline, his opponent was an after-thought. Not for me, not for you and not for anyone else in this part of the world as it was announced that Lesnar would fight the Super Samoan Mark Hunt. The mainstream media got their knickers in a twist when whispers started floating around that Hunt was on the move to the USA, that Hunt would fight one of the heavyweights already on the UFC roster yet it turns out to be far bigger news than that. Mark Hunt, our guy, fighting on the UFC 200 card against Brock Lesnar!?
After wins over Antonio Silva and Frank Mir, Hunt showed that he is still definitely in the mix for a UFC heavyweight title shot despite being 42-years-old. Hunt didn't win those fights by points decision, nah he grabbed a TKO win over Silva and he KO'd Mir, meaning that there's plenty of power left in those concrete fists of South Auckland's finest.
Despite that, Hunt was kinda in limbo in terms of what was next for him. There's also the heavyweight bout between Cain Velasquez and Traivs Browne on the UFC 200 card, both Velasquez (#2) and Browne (#7) are ranked ahead of Hunt (#8), Andrei Arlovski (#6) will fight (#9) Josh Barnett on September 3rd while champion Stipe Miocic will defend his belt against Alistair Overeem (#3) at UFC 203, with Fabricio Werdum (#3) vs Ben Rothwell (#5) on the same card.
Every heavyweight fighter ranked ahead of Hunt is booked in to fight over the next few months, except for Junior Dos Santos who was the rumoured opponent of Hunt last week. Hunt was in limbo, waiting to see what's next for him and Lesnar wanted a fight, which is where Hunt fitted this situation perfectly as he's not only an exciting fighter who either knocks blokes out or serves up an entertaining loss, he's also a UFC man. Hunt has been the face of the UFC's growth in Australasia as his last three fights have all been in Australia, four of his past six fights have been in Australia with the other two in Mexico and Japan.
Once Lesnar showed interest in returning to the UFC, they needed to find an opponent and I'd consider this a combination of Hunt being in the right place and the right time along with a reward of his service to the UFC. Who knows how much money Hunt, or any other fighter on the UFC 200 card will earn, but we can assume that it's going to be a wee bit more than a standard UFC card. Lesnar fought on the UFC 100 card and this is the second time the UFC gets to celebrate another hundred UFC cards, it's a huge moment which is evident in the other fights on the card; Jones vs Cormier, Tate vs Nunes, Aldo vs Edgar, Velasquez vs Browne, Zingano vs Pena, Hendricks vs Gastelum, Dillashaw vs Assuncao and there's a few other low key fights that will ensure that this card is full to the brim, a suitable celebration of the UFC.
Lesnar wouldn't be brought back to fight on any ol' UFC card and it's obviously highly convenient that he thought about returning with UFC 200 on the horizon; there's no bigger UFC stage.
This is also an interesting stylistic match up that will ensure this fight is a blockbuster. Lesnar can strike, but he has a history in wrestling, no not WWE wrestling but actual wrestling and he's already said that he's going to take Hunt down and dominate. This is nothing new for Hunt as he generally deals with this narrative in the majority of his fights, he's a striker with the hottest hands in the business and if you're going to trade punches with Hunt, you'd better be prepared to absorb some hefty shots ... shots that have floored some of the toughest heavyweights in the game.
Hunt traditionally deals with plans to take him down to the mat with expert takedown defence. Frank Mir wanted to take him down in Hunt's last fight but couldn't, you could argue that Hunt's takedown defence is as good as his striking which is a dangerous combination of skills. Hunt gives up a height and reach advantage to Lesnar, which will make torching Lesnar's face with punches more difficult but we've all seen Hunt KO bigger blokes and Hunt knows how to switch levels, get inside and get to work.
Ahead of the Hunt vs Mir fight, I wrote a thing celebrating Hunt. This is a dude who is 42 (!!) and at that stage he was looking to stay in the mix, win another fight or two and get a possible title shot. With a fight against Lesnar coming up, the astonishing surge in Hunt's career continues and he deservedly gets to fight on the biggest UFC card, against one of the biggest drawcards in combat sport/entertainment and Hunt has a decent shot of winning.
I'm just loving this ride in supporting Hunt, he's a South Auckland uso who is preparing to put on a show for the world against a bloke who thinks he's the modern day Bo Jackson. I've got news for you Brock, you're no Bo Jackson and you're certainly now Sonny Bill Williams or Brad Thorn.