If you like a good brawl, you’ve probably got it on your calendar already, but if not, look out: it’s “Super Samoan” time!
Yep, Mark Hunt is back in action this weekend at UFC Fight Night: Hunt vs. Bigfoot, this time in his adopted home of Australia.
The 38 year old will be looking for another highlight reel knockout in an amazing 15 year career in the fighting arts. Yep, 15 years of “walk-away knockouts!” Hunt’s been throwing leather for a decade and a half, from a professional boxing debut in 1998, to K-1 kickboxing glory in the early 2000’s, to a bloody stoppage of Stefan Struve back in March for the UFC.
He’s got a giant to deal with on Saturday (well, actually it’s Friday in Oz) in Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva, but the big man has been there before.
Here’s my quick list of Hunt’s “Greatest Hits.”
1. Mark Hunt vs. Jérôme Le Banner II, K-1 World Grand Prix 2001 (Dec 8, 2001 at Tokyo Dome in Tokyo, Japan)
It’s probably difficult for a lot of fans to imagine, but back in 2001 K-1’s kickboxing shows were at the top of the heap in the combative sport world — and this was it’s apex, the World Grand Prix. Hunt was a pudgy, little-known lad from New Zealand who scored a spot winning the K-1 Oceania tournament; what chance did he have against K-1’s chiseled poster boy Jérôme Le Banner?
Well, see for yourself.
In the second round, the iron-chinned Hunt is cornered and taking Le Banner’s best shots, including some hard knees to the body. Is he hurt? Nope. Hunt drops his hands and asks for more. Then, a right hand- left uppercut combo from Hunt begins a startling rally, before a series of rights has Le Banner crumbling to the canvas. A 65,000 strong Tokyo Dome crowd rises stunned to their feet as Hunt advances to the finals, where he would defeat Francisco Filho to secure his place among K-1 Grand Prix champions.
2. Mark Hunt vs. Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipović : PRIDE 男祭 / Shockwave 2005 (Dec. 31, 2005 at Saitama Super Arena in Saitama Japan)
There were plenty of fireworks in Hunt’s early MMA career, like knocking a grounded Wanderlei Silva out with a punch, then waking him up with another, in their wild 2004 bout. But this night the following year made a lot of MMA fans really take notice. “Cro Cop” ended fight after fight with his vaunted high kick. Hunt had been surprised and knocked down by a high kick in a K-1 bout with Tsuyoshi Nakasako a few years prior, and lost to Filipović himself later that year. What would he do in MMA, where Filipović had already made a more successful transition?
He did what Hunt does best: absorb every shot and just keep coming. The split decision victory was Hunt’s first against a legitimate heavyweight MMA contender, and got his career rolling.
3. Mark Hunt vs. Stefan Struve: UFC on Fuel TV: Silva vs. Stann (March 3, 2013 at Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan)
Fast forward to this past March, and Hunt makes a triumphant return to Japan in a grueling three round battle against “Hightower” Stefan Struve. Back and forth they go until Hunt lands a devastating right, followed by not a single punch more — just a peaceful walk away from his fallen opponent.
Will we see another in two days? Let us know your favorite Mark Hunt moment. Enjoy the fights!