Hunt was born in South Auckland, into a large Samoan family, and was a troubled child eventually leading to two jail terms for violent offending. He had no intention to be a professional fighter until a late night altercation outside a nightclub just after getting out of jail for the second time in Auckland changed the course of his life. The brawl did not last long, and Hunt knocked out multiple people. Sam Marsters, one of the bouncers at the door was impressed by the young man’s knockout power and invited him to his gym to take up formal training, and a week later, Hunt won a Muay Thai kickboxing match via knockout. Hunt received a six-pack of beer as a reward for the fight. Later that year Hunt moved to Sydney, Australia (residing in Campbelltown), to train with Alex Tui, and few years later he settled in Liverpool Kickboxing Gym under Maori instructor Hape Ngaranoa.
In the beginning of his career, Hunt was used by the promoters as a stepping stone for their up-and-coming fighters, taking up fights at short notice, until Tarik Solak promoted K-1 Oceania tournament in February 2000. With a record of (15-4, 3 KO’s) Hunt entered his first K-1 tournament as a heavy underdog.
He won the K-1 Oceania title by knocking out “The Coconut Crusher” Aumitagi in quarter finals, Rony Sefo in semis and Phil Fagan in the finals. After this he was invited to Japan for K-1 qualifications. He lost his first international fight by unanimous decision against Jérôme Le Banner.
In 2001, Hunt returned to K-1 by winning the K-1 Oceania tournament for the second consecutive year. After that he took part of K-1 World GP 2001 in Melbourne, where he beat Japanese boxer Hiromi Amada, before suffering a close unanimous decision loss to reigning champion Ernesto Hoost. However, because of his exciting fighting style Hunt was granted a wildcard spot in the repercharge tournament for the K-1 World GP 2001 Finals, when Mirko Cro Cop had to pull out due to injury. He was drawn against Ray Sefo, who won the bout by outpointing Hunt. After the fight however, Sefo suffered an eye injury and was not able to continue, allowing Hunt to proceed in his place. Hunt then TKO’d Adam Watt to earn his place in the K-1 World Grand Prix Finals at the Tokyo Dome.
During the matchmaking for the K-1 Finals, Hunt surprised the crowd by choosing Jérôme Le Banner, whom he had just lost in the previous year, as his quarterfinal opponent. Hunt won the rematch by knocking out Le Banner in the second round and advanced himself onto the semi-finals facing Stefan Leko. Hunt knocked down Leko two times in the first round and went on to win the fight by unanimous decision. The stage was set for the final battle against Brazilian Kyokushin karate champion Francisco Filho. In the final Hunt defeated Filho by unanimous decision to become the K-1 World Grand Prix 2001 champion.
In 2002, Hunt went to Paris to fight Le Banner again for the third time what turned out to be one of the biggest battles in K-1 history. Le Banner, fighting in front of his hometown audience, knocked down Hunt in the second round but was in turn knocked down himself a few seconds later. In the final moments of the round, Hunt was knocked down for the second time again by the powerful Frenchman. In between rounds the towel was thrown in as Hunt could not continue.
On 17 December 2002, Mark Hunt returned to defend his K-1 World Grand Prix Championship. In quarter finals, entering the third round and behind on all scorecards, Mark was able to connect with a right cross that knocked out Stefan Leko and advanced him to the semi-finals against his career long nemesis Jerome Le Banner. Despite knocking down the Frenchman at the end of the third round, Hunt lost the fight by decision. It would to be his last K-1 World Grand Prix appearance.
In April 2008, FEG announced Hunt’s return to K-1 and nominated him as the challenger of K-1 Super Heavyweight Championship held by Semmy Schilt. The match was held on 13 April 2008, in Yokohama, Japan at the K-1 World GP 2008 in Yokohama. Hunt lost the fight at the end of the first round by spinning back kick to the body.
Mixed martial arts career
PRIDE Fighting Championship
Hunt’s mixed martial arts career saw him fight in events in Japan’s PRIDE Fighting Championships. His first MMA fight was a submission loss to Hidehiko Yoshida, an Olympic gold medalist in judo. In his second fight, he defeated American wrestler Dan Bobish by TKO. Hunt stepped in as a late replacement for Sakuraba, and won a split decision against an outweighed PRIDE middleweight (205 lb) champion Wanderlei Silva. Silva, renowned for his brutal punching and Muay Thai clinch game, was neutralized by the hard-hitting Samoan and knocked down several times in the fight. At the PRIDE Shockwave 2005 event, Hunt surprisingly defeated Mirko Cro Cop via a split decision, after his earlier loss to him in K-1. At PRIDE 31: Unbreakable, Hunt defeated Japanese boxer Yosuke Nishijima in the third round with a powerful one-two punch.
Hunt’s next fight was in the opening round of PRIDE’s 2006 Open-Weight Grand Prix (PRIDE Total Elimination Absolute) on 5 May 2006. His opponent was Japan’s Tsuyoshi Kohsaka, who he defeated by TKO in the second round. He then faced American catch-wrestler Josh Barnett at PRIDE Critical Countdown Absolute in the second round of the tournament. Hunt was immediately taken down by Barnett and ultimately lost to a kimura submission roughly two and a half minutes into the first round.
Following that fight, Hunt next lost to PRIDE Heavyweight Champion Fedor Emelianenko at PRIDE Shockwave 2006. Hunt controlled Emelianenko most of the fight and even effectively countered an armbar early in the bout. Hunt’s greatest chance of winning came when he was able to put Emelianenko in an americana. Unfortunately for Hunt, Emelianenko was able to fight through it and submit Hunt with a kimura.
On 21 July 2008, more than a year after his last MMA fight, Hunt returned to MMA to face Alistair Overeem at the Dream 5: Lightweight Grand Prix 2008 Final Round, and was submitted by an armlock in just over a minute into the first round.
Hunt was set to fight Jerome Le Banner at Dynamite!! 2008 but ended up fighting late replacement Melvin Manhoef after Le Banner pulled out. Despite the fact that he had a substantial weight advantage over Manhoef, he was knocked out in 18 seconds in the first round. This marked the first time he had been stopped by knockout due to punches to the head.
Ultimate Fighting Championship
Hunt was transferred to the UFC as part of their acquisition of Pride Fighting Championships. The UFC offered to pay up Hunt’s contract and more – totaling $450,000 – but Hunt elected to fight instead.
Hunt made his UFC debut on 25 September 2010 at UFC 119 against fellow UFC newcomer and undefeated prospect Sean McCorkle. Hunt trained with American Top Team for the fight. Photos that had emerged on the internet had shown that Hunt had lost a considerable amount of weight in comparison to that of his Pride days. He was defeated via submission (straight armbar) at 1:03 of the first round.
Hunt’s next fight in the UFC was against Chris Tuchscherer at UFC 127 on 27 Feb in Sydney, Australia. Hunt defeated Tuchscherer in the second round via KO, earning Knockout of the Night honors.
Hunt faced Junior dos Santos on 25 May 2013 at UFC 160, replacing an injured Alistair Overeem. Hunt lost the fight via knockout in the third round in a bout that earned both participants Fight of the Night honors. Afterwards, some major MMA media outlets was considering this to be the best fight in the history of the UFC heavyweight division.
Hunt faced Antônio Silva in the main event on 7 December 2013 at UFC Fight Night 33. The fight went to a decision, with one judge scoring it 48–47 for Hunt, while the other two judges had the scores even 47–47, resulting in a majority draw. Post-fight, Dana White stated that the bout won Fight of the Night and, despite the draw result, both men would receive their win bonuses. The bout with Silva has been described as one of the best in the promotion’s heavyweight history. In a post-fight test, Silva tested positive for elevated testosterone, which was believed to be attributed to undergoing UFC-approved testosterone replacement therapy. In turn, the bout is still a “draw” on Hunt’s official record, while in Silva’s case it was overturned to a no-contest.
On 5 August 2014, Hunt posted cryptic tweets about becoming unemployed, which Dana White immediately denied. At first, Hunt blamed his tweets on hunger, but later in mid-August he revealed that he had decided to walk away from the sport due to business reasons. Hunt originally wanted a three-fight contract while the UFC wanted an eight-fight contract. After Hunt’s decision to walk away, his wife talked him around and he ended up with a six-fight contract with the organization. At the end of August 2014, Hunt revealed that the contract will be the last of his mixed martial arts career.
Continuation in UFC
Hunt faced Roy Nelson on 20 September 2014 at UFC Fight Night 52. He won the fight by knockout in the second round. The win earned Hunt his first Performance of the Night bonus award, and the World MMA Awards‘ 2014 Knockout Of The Year award.
On 21 October 2014, it was announced that Hunt would replace injured UFC Heavyweight Champion Cain Velasquez in the main event at UFC 180. He faced off against Fabrício Werdum for the interim UFC Heavyweight Championship. Despite having early success and dropping Werdum due to punches twice, Hunt lost the fight via TKO in the second round.
Hunt faced Stipe Miocic on 10 May 2015 at UFC Fight Night 65. He lost the fight via TKO in the fifth round. Miocic set a UFC record for the most strikes landed in a fight, outlanding Hunt 361 – 48 over the duration of the bout.
Hunt faced Antônio Silva in a rematch on 15 November 2015 at UFC 193. Hunt won the fight via TKO, after dropping his opponent with a straight right up against the fence, at 3:41 of the first round.
Hunt faced Frank Mir on 20 March 2016 at UFC Fight Night 85. He won the fight via KO in the first round, after putting Mir to the canvas with a right hand, and finished with a ‘walk-off’ KO. He was awarded with Performance of the Night for his efforts. It was later announced that Mir failed an in-competition drug test.
Despite talks about the contract done after previous dispute being Hunt’s last, on 14 April 2016 it was published that Hunt had signed new six-fight, multi-million contract with UFC.
Hunt faced a returning Brock Lesnar on 9 July 2016 at UFC 200, but lost by unanimous decision. However, on 15 July it was revealed that Lesnar had tested positive on a banned substance in a pre-fight drug test. The test result was conducted on 28 June 11 days prior to the fight, and was flagged by USADA as a potential anti-doping violation. On 19 July, the UFC announced that Lesnar tested positive for the same banned substance on a second, in-competition sample. On 23 August, the Nevada Athletic Commission confirmed that Lesnar twice tested positive for the estrogen blocker clomiphene, and that he has been temporarily suspended. As a result of Lesnar’s positive tests, the result of the fight was later changed to a no contest.
Hunt faced Derrick Lewis on 11 June 2017 in the main event at UFC Fight Night 110. It was first combat sports fight in Auckland since UFC Fight Night 43 in Vector Arena. He won by TKO in the fourth round. The win also earned Hunt his third Fight of the Night bonus award.
Hunt was expected to face Marcin Tybura on 19 November 2017 at UFC Fight Night: Hunt vs. Tybura. However, on 10 October, UFC pulled Hunt from the card and he was replaced by Fabrício Werdum as UFC official has reviewed Hunt’s article, entitled, ‘If I Die Fighting, That’s Fine” on his health status from the consequences he suffered from his long term fighting career (slur speech and loss of memory- an early signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE)). Hunt was upset with the news and responded on his Instagram that the quote was taken out of context, and had been cleared to fight from doctor two days prior UFC pulled him from the fight.
Hunt faced Curtis Blaydes on 11 February 2018 at UFC 221. He also announced that he would not seek contract extension after his contract ends in 2 fights after UFC 221. He knocked Blaydes down with an overhand right in the first round, but lost the fight via unanimous decision after he got outwrestled by Blaydes for the following two rounds.
Hunt faced Justin Willis on 2 December 2018 at UFC Fight Night 142. He lost the fight via unanimous decision. This fight was his last fight of his UFC contract and Hunt has said he will continue his fighting career with other organisations.
Article Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Hunt