It’s been an interesting year in the UFC for heavyweight Mark Hunt.
Despite being one of the hardest hitters and most decorated veterans in the sport of mixed martial arts, Hunt has found himself fighting for his right to get back in the cage.
Controversies regarding his health and bad blood from an existing lawsuit against his employer have made things shaky for Hunt. Though he remains contracted to the UFC, he may not stay there once his deal runs out.
Back in 2014, Hunt competed for the interim championship against Fabricio Werdum. Despite turning in a good first round, he was blasted with a huge knee and finished in the second. Another loss followed, this time to Stipe Miocic – a man who would go on to win the title in the near future.
Hunt got back on track, scoring back-to-back wins over Antonio Silva and former titleholder Frank Mir. At UFC 200, Hunt was scheduled to face the returning Brock Lesnar. Hunt expressed concerns about whether Lesnar, who had spent his time in WWE over the past few years, was subject to the same drug-testing procedures as other fighters.
Since the UFC’s buyout by WME-IMG, they’ve enlisted the services of the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA). Stricter tests mean a cleaner sport, which is supposed to translate into a safer experience for the fighters. Lesnar picked up the unanimous decision win. But when he tested positive afterwards, Hunt was livid.
The bout’s result was overturned to a no contest, but that wasn’t enough for Hunt. He slapped the UFC with a lawsuit, claiming they endangered him by putting him in the cage with a fighter who was on banned substances. Hunt would lose to Alistair Overeem at UFC 209 before picking up a win against Derrick Lewis this past July.
Hunt is now scheduled to face Curtis Blaydes at UFC 221, but Hunt says that will be one of his last fights with the promotion.
“That will be the end of my career in the UFC. I have two fights left and that’s it. You probably know the path I’ve had with the UFC, but you know, it’s business. I haven’t done nothing wrong, I just don’t like to be treated like s**t – even if I’m an employee or whatever and I speak my mind about it and, you know, I’ll go from there.”
Hunt’s problems with the UFC got worse earlier this year, when he was pulled from a fight due to apparently admitting to symptoms of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). In a blog, he detailed his problems sleeping, remembering things, and speaking clearly. This was enough for UFC management to pull him from an upcoming bout.
Hunt unleashed a tirade against UFC president Dana White on social media over the incident. Hunt was required to go through additional testing before he was cleared to fight. Originally, he’d eyed a rematch against Werdum for his return. After his UFC contract is up, it is uncertain where he’ll compete.