Mark Hunt’s UFC career could be over

Justin Faux Columnist

By Justin Faux, Justin Faux is a Roar Expert

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    Mark Hunt, the UFC’s oldest fighter, may have penned his own resignation letter last month.

    In a first-person article for Players Voice, the fifth-ranked heavyweight contender made a series of troubling statements.

    “I will probably end my life fighting,” Hunt stated.

    “You can hear me starting to stutter and slur my words. My memory is not that good anymore. I’ll forget something I did yesterday but I can remember the s*** I did years and years ago. That’s just the price I’ve paid – the price of being a fighter.”

    It reads like the confessions of a man who had his brain scrambled one too many times. And those remarks quickly reached the UFC, who yesterday pulled Hunt from the headlining slot of UFC Sydney on November 19.

    New Zealand's Mark Hunt, right, battles against Brazil's Fabricio Werdum

    (AP Photo/Christian Palma)

    Former UFC heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum, an ex-opponent of Hunt’s, will fill his slot, main eventing the television card against Polish heavyweight Marcin Tybura.

    The decision did not sit well with Hunt, who claims he had already invested $100,000 into an overseas training camp. He responded in an expletive-laden Instagram post directed at UFC president Dana White.

    “u peice of s*** m*****f*** why u f****** pull me from the fight u getting another lawsuit u f***wit u can kiss my ass u bald headed prick u put that chicken shit bitch in get f***** c***sucker,” it read.

    In another post, the 43-year-old knockout puncher claimed he was “misquoted” in the Players Voice article, and also suggested he was scratched from the fight due to his ongoing lawsuit with the company, not due to health concerns.

    A quick glance at the UFC’s social media channels will tell you all you need to know about the fan’s opinion on the main event switch, too.

    “Booooo!!! Boycott this event!!!,” one fan tweeted.

    “You may as well cancel this event. Most of us won’t pay for tix or PPV without (Mark Hunt) on the card,” another added.

    In terms of business, it’s a bad move on the UFC’s behalf. Hunt has headlined four cards between Australia & New Zealand and has proven to be a respectable drawing card for the promotion.

    In terms of fighter health and safety, however, it’s the right call.

    Hunt’s admission of short-term memory loss and slurred speech have rightly set off alarm bells since they are the leading signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

    In recent years, scientists have begun slicing open the brains of deceased athletes, many of whom were driven to an early grave, and discovered that a frightening amount were living with CTE.

    In July, The Journal of the American Medical Association revealed 110 of the 111 former NFL players whose brains were donated for research were diagnosed with CTE.

    Moreover, CTE was diagnosed in 87 percent of the 202 former football players from all levels, including high school, college, NFL, CFL and semipro.

    MMA fighters are not exempt from this either. In 2016, it was discovered that Jordan Parsons, a featherweight fighter who competed in the Bellator promotion, had developed CTE before his sudden death at the age of 25.

    Parsons competed for five years as a professional, compiling an 11-2 record and suffering just one knockout loss in that period.

    Hunt, on the other hand, has been fist fighting as a three-sport combat athlete since 1998.

    Mark Hunt’s pro records:

    Boxer: 0-1-1 (0 knockout losses)

    Kickboxer: 30-13 (2 knockout losses)

    Mixed martial artist: 13-11-1-1NC (5 knockout losses)

    Overall: 43-24-2-1NC (7 knockout losses)

    The reality is, Hunt is a grown man, capable of making his own decisions and dealing with the consequences that come with those decisions.

    But at the same time, the battle-tested fighter essentially tied the UFC’s hands when he openly discussed being cognitively impaired after years of well-documented battles.

    After this, you have to ask now, can the UFC responsibly schedule Hunt in another fight?

    How about any respectable athletic commission? Could a regulator sign off on Hunt to get punched in the head for money again?

    If the answer to either of those is no, then we may have seen the last of ‘The Super Samoan’ in the Octagon.

    Justin Faux
    Justin Faux

    Justin Faux is a seasoned combat sports scribe. Covering mixed martial arts and boxing since 2007, Justin has been published on NineMSN Australia, Fox Sports, ESPN, Sports Illustrated, and dozens of other outlets. You can follow him on Twitter @justinfauxmma.

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    The Crowd Says (7)

    • Roar Rookie

      October 12th 2017 @ 4:37pm
      Josh Mercer said | October 12th 2017 @ 4:37pm | ! Report

      While I feel for Mark, the right thing has been done here. I thought he had said it in another interview before he wrote this one but I looked up the date and this must be the one I was thinking about.

    • Columnist

      October 12th 2017 @ 5:50pm
      Justin Faux said | October 12th 2017 @ 5:50pm | ! Report

      Thanks for the read, Josh.

      Personally, I don’t think Mark Hunt gave the UFC much choice in the matter. It would be a PR nightmare if the guy who spoke of slurred speech and memory loss flew to Sydney a few weeks later to get his brains beaten in.

      The flip side, though, is if the UFC isn’t going to book him, it’s not right to hold him hostage in a contract when he still has three fights left on his deal.

      • Roar Guru

        October 14th 2017 @ 8:05pm
        Edward L'Orange said | October 14th 2017 @ 8:05pm | ! Report

        Can you see him getting a contract with Bellator? Back in the day I think they would have had him in a minute, he could really add to their heavyweight division, but they are trying to keep up there image. Failing that, Rizin would have him.

        Point is, he’s a big enough name that I don’t think he’ll struggle to get another contract if he can get out of his UFC contract. Not saying he should, I hope for his own health he can hang up the gloves, but I don’t see it happening.

    • October 12th 2017 @ 10:44pm
      damo said | October 12th 2017 @ 10:44pm | ! Report

      The guy is as honest as the day is long, a true warrior & genuine fighter, it’s a pity that the UFC take so much notice of this interview & yet ignore his genuine claims for compensation against a cheating chump who made millions off of fighting a true champion in Lesnar.
      The UFC was already on a downhill slide when it sold its soul to hype (Rousey, McGregor) but its disdain for Mark Hunt shows you it proclaimed to be something real but all it really aspired to be was boxing.
      I hope Mr Hunt makes good in his law suit, starts a successful gym & leaves it all behind him, because the UFC is a use em up, spit em out hypefest where drugs are ok as long as you can weave them into the narrative & sell a card.

    • October 13th 2017 @ 8:29am
      Fox levy said | October 13th 2017 @ 8:29am | ! Report

      Hunt is not only fighting with his opponents but also fighting with the dirty politics in this Sport, but his biggest fight is the bald headed brick who hates this great fighter..

    • October 14th 2017 @ 1:10pm
      Gavin R said | October 14th 2017 @ 1:10pm | ! Report

      The risk is too great from the UFC. He’s getting checked out by the doctors over in the US but there is so many unknowns surrounding brain trauma and concussions long term. This may even help his lawsuit against the UFC potentially.

    • October 17th 2017 @ 2:20pm
      Alex L said | October 17th 2017 @ 2:20pm | ! Report

      Hunt doesn’t just have brain trauma from fighting, he’s got a lot of damage from things outside the ring too.

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