UFC clears Mark Hunt to fight after brain tests completed

The UFC has given Mark Hunt the green light to fight again.

Citing “medical concerns,” Hunt (13-11-1 MMA, 8-5-1 UFC) in October was pulled from last month’s UFC Fight Night 121 headliner in Sydney, a decision that was made after Hunt admitted to memory loss and slurred speech in a piece he wrote for PlayersVoice.com.au titled “If I die fighting, that’s fine.”

Tonight the UFC said the 43-year-old Hunt is cleared to resume his career.

“After a full medical analysis at the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in Las Vegas, UFC confirms that heavyweight athlete Mark Hunt has been cleared to compete,” the UFC said in statement to MMAFighting.com.

Hunt, already with one lawsuit against the UFC, threatened another in the wake of the promotion’s decision to pull him from UFC-Sydney. He called UFC President Dana White a “bald-headed prick” in a scathing Instagram post.

White was baffled by Hunt’s reaction to the UFC’s decision, considering it was based on Hunt’s own words. In a letter published by dailytelegraph.com.au, White said Hunt’s claim that his words in his column were taken out of context didn’t have much merit.

“How can you take your own words out of context?” White wrote.

White, who admitted to being startled by Hunt’s column, said he offered to fly the “Super Samoan” to Las Vegas to undergo extensive brain testing. Even though Hunt initially “absolutely refused,” according to White, the testing did happen, and now Hunt can fight again.

Hunt’s last fight took place in May at UFC Fight Night 110, where he defeated Derrick Lewis via TKO in a slugfest “Fight of the Night.”

Hunt has an ongoing lawsuit with the UFC stemming from his UFC 200 bout with Brock Lesnar in July 2016. The promotion waved a drug-testing rule for its U.S. Anti-Doping Agency program that allowed the former UFC heavyweight champion to make a short-notice return to the octagon, then Lesnar subsequently failed multiple drug tests around the time of the fight.

For more on the UFC’s upcoming schedule, visit the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Trading Shots: White and Hunt keep firing at each other, but is the brain health issue any clearer?

The war of words between Mark Hunt and the UFC continues, and once again it’s a column penned by one of the parties that furthers the debate. In this week’s Trading Shots, retired WEC and UFC fighter Danny Downes joins MMAjunkie columnist Ben Fowlkes to discuss the unfolding argument.

Downes: Ben, while you’re gearing up for your new blood feud with Colby Covington, I was hoping I could bring another squabble to your attention.

Dana White and Mark Hunt don’t appear to be coming to a resolution any time soon. After the “Super Samoan” was pulled from his Nov. 18 fight against Marcin Tybura, Hunt was incensed (you could tell by how many middle finger emojis he used), and vowed another lawsuit on top of the one he already has pending against the UFC.

President White isn’t one to back down, so nobody could be surprised when White wrote a letter to Australia’s Daily Telegraph. Does this change your opinion on the matter? White said he said he’d have kept Hunt on the card if the 43-year-old striker passed some “additional tests,” but Hunt refused. Isn’t this a problem of Hunt’s own making?

Fowlkes: It is, definitely. If he doesn’t “write” that column in the first place, none of this happens. And as White “wrote” in his rebuttal, if you’re going to put your byline on the thing, it’s hard to complain that your words were taken out of context. (Can you tell I’m having a hard time picturing either of these two sitting down at a laptop to type any of this out?)

If it’s true that the UFC offered to fly Hunt (first class, no less) to the Cleveland Clinic’s Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health for further testing before it pulled him from the fight, then he can’t complain about being yanked.

That’s a totally justifiable and even prudent move on the UFC’s part. You’re also not going to convince me that it would have all played out exactly the same if Hunt wasn’t already suing the UFC for putting his health at risk.

In that sense, you could say this is a problem of Hunt’s making in at least two ways.

What I still wonder, though, is if this establishes a new precedent for the UFC. Is this the rule now? If you make public mention of any possible symptoms of brain trauma, are you automatically sidelined pending further testing? And if so, how long does the UFC get to keep you inactive while still keeping you under contract?

What kind of doctor’s note could you even get that would clear you to return to action? What, is the Lou Ruvo Center going to give Hunt a certificate that says he has definitely not suffered any brain damage from fighting? Because I’ll tell you, I don’t see that happening.

That’s where this gets tricky, does it not? I agree with the UFC that if Hunt has those symptoms, no way should he be fighting. But a UFC contract is pretty restrictive, so how can you keep him tied to it if you don’t think he’s healthy enough to fight?

And if the UFC doesn’t take this exact same approach with any other fighter who complains of health issues (and maybe not just brain stuff, but also bad knees, achy backs, joints that sound like pepper grinders when they move) will it serve only to prove that this was more about the lawsuit than about actual concern for fighter health?

Downes: I think this is the first time you’ve agreed with the actions of a corporation in this column. Someone better not read this to all your other comrades down at the farm.

In this individual case, I agree the UFC did the prudent thing. While I’m not 100 percent convinced the company did this for altruistic reasons, it was still the correct move. Imagine if Hunt went out there and suffered another KO or injury. People would have called the UFC negligent. Letting a fighter compete after he’s admitted to the symptoms Hunt has would be an irresponsible thing to do (at least legally).

It also seems wrong to prevent Hunt from making a living. The UFC can’t really go back and say that Hunt wasn’t cleared to fight this November, but all his brain issues magically went away for a fight in December or January.

But let’s just say that the UFC and Hunt part ways, and then Hunt signs up with RIZIN. Will you watch that fight? I’ll answer for you: Of course you will. And if that’s the case, how worried are we about brain trauma? Not enough to change our consumption habits, apparently.

Neither one of us are neurologists, but we can assume that Hunt has suffered some brain trauma. The real issue is to what extent.

Imagine if every fighter on the UFC roster underwent the test at the Lou Ruvo Center which Dana White offered. Where would Hunt fall? It’s safe to assume there are active fighters with symptoms similar to his. It’s also safe to assume that while many may not have the symptoms of Hunt, they could potentially have even greater neurological deterioration. Should all of them be barred from fighting?

Fighters don’t receive pensions. They don’t have a 401(k) matching plan. There are only so many cushy analyst positions at FS1. They need to fight to make a living. We may think they’re being short-sighted, irresponsible, or endangering their health, but does that mean we should hope promoters effectively end their careers?

Fowlkes: First of all, a lot of fighters on the UFC roster do undergo testing at the Lou Ruvo Center. As you may know (since you’re such an avid reader of my writing), they’ve been working on a study of fighter brain health since about 2011, offering free MRIs in exchange for participation in the study, which the UFC has supported. And a fighter Hunt’s age needs continued MRIs to even get licensed most places, so further testing is probably part of the deal one way or another if he wants to fight.

But what do we really expect the doctor’s note to say here? As Dr. Charles Bernick explained when I asked about his research at the Lou Ruvo center back in 2013, there’s some evidence of a correlation between number of bouts and decreased volume in certain areas of the brain. But it’s not like there’s some agreed upon limit or threshold which, when detected, triggers automatic forced retirement.

Even if there were, that just brings us back to the UFC’s response. It would pretty much have to release Hunt in that scenario, at which point he could sign to fight in Japan, where there’s no commission to tell anyone that they have to care what the doctors in Las Vegas say. Plus, once you establish that threshold, you’d better be prepared to enforce it across the board. What happens if Georges St-Pierre goes in for pre-fight testing and finds out he’s in the no-go zone? What happens if it’s Conor McGregor?

One of the things that makes these brain issues so tricky is that we can’t say (yet) when you’ve crossed the line, or when/if it will actually catch up with you. We know getting hit in the head repeatedly isn’t good for your brain, but it’s part of the basic premise of this sport, so at some level we have to agree to accept a certain amount of that risk.

As for the question of fan culpability, I agree it’s something we’re all morally obligated to consider as supporters of this sport, but it’s never going to be a reliable failsafe. Some people honestly don’t care if fighters turn their brains to mush for our entertainment. Others care only selectively.

I saw a lot of people effectively boycotting Antonio Silva’s ill-conceived kickboxing bout, but I’m sure plenty of other people tuned in without losing any sleep over it. Plus, I’m not sure we’re doing anybody any favors if we tell fighters that we’ll watch them damage themselves until we suddenly decide it’s no fun for us anymore, and then they’re out of a job.

At the risk of playing right into your “Ben is a commie” narrative, I think the answer should ultimately involve a collective bargaining agreement that brings pensions and ongoing benefits, much like in the NFL. But we’re a long way from that point. And Hunt’s not getting any younger – or any less angry at the employer who won’t let him get paid but also won’t let him go.

For more on the UFC’s upcoming schedule, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Ben Fowlkes is MMAjunkie and USA TODAY’s MMA columnist. Danny Downes, a retired UFC and WEC fighter, is an MMAjunkie contributor who has also written for UFC.com and UFC 360. Follow them on twitter at @benfowlkesMMA and @dannyboydownes.

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Source: MMA Junkie

Dana White fires back at Mark Hunt: 'How can you take your own words out of context?'

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UFC President Dana White suggested he has no choice but to pull Mark Hunt from an upcoming UFC headliner, and the heavyweight’s recent complaints make little sense, he said.

Earlier this month, UFC officials pulled Hunt (13-11-1 MMA, 8-5-1 UFC) from a Nov. 18 headliner against Marcin Tybura (16-2 MMA, 3-1 UFC) at UFC Fight Night 121 in Sydney. The removal came after the 43-year-old “Super Samoan” penned an article admitting to memory loss and slurred speech.

Initially, White said “sometimes, you’ve got to protect these guys from themselves” and suggested he doesn’t hate the fan-favorite slugger, who already has one lawsuit against the UFC in place and has threatened another.

Now, White has penned a letter, published by dailytelegraph.com.au, in which he further clarified the company’s decision to remove Hunt, who ultimately was replaced at UFC Fight Night 121 by former heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum (22-7-1 MMA, 10-4 UFC).

Despite Hunt subsequently calling White “a bald-headed prick,” the longtime UFC executive wrote that the fighter’s admissions were startling. He also suggested that Hunt’s claims that his words in the column were taken out of context don’t have much merit.

“How can you take your own words out of context?” White wrote.

He also said he offered to fly Hunt, who’s registered registered more than 70 bouts during a 14-year combat-sports career in kickboxing and MMA, to Las Vegas to visit the Lou Ruvo Brain Center in Las Vegas for additional testing. Hunt, though, “absolutely refused,” according to White, who also suggested he hasn’t held a grudge against the outspoken fighter despite their past issues.

Here’s the full letter:

“Mark Hunt was never “cleared” to fight Marcin Tybura in Sydney, Australia this November. Period. And the statements he’s been making, saying that he is, are just not true.

“Let me tell you what I know.

“Mark Hunt recently wrote an op-ed piece for an Australian website that described some serious symptoms.

“He wrote that he’s starting to stutter and slur his words.

“He wrote that he’s not sleeping well.

“He wrote that he can’t remember something he did yesterday.

“These are his words, from him, but now he’s saying it was taken out of context. How can you take your own words out of context? So you know what I did? My team contacted his management within the first week of learning about these symptoms and offered to fly him to Las Vegas first class to visit the Lou Ruvo Brain Center — which is the best in the world for brain research — to get more tests done. And you know what? He absolutely refused.

“How can I put a guy with these symptoms he said he’s experiencing immediately back in the Octagon without additional tests? I definitely wasn’t going to do that. So I did the only thing I could do — which is to pull him off an event that would have him fighting just nine weeks after writing his piece so he can have the proper time to see a specialist. Let me remind you that this is an event I already had signed contracts for and spent a lot of money marketing and advertising, so this was a big loss. But it was the right thing to do.

“So here we are now. After all of this, Mark is saying that I have it out for him and I am holding a grudge because he filed a lawsuit. Let me ask you this:

“Would I have placed him in two additional fights, including one in which he headlined the event?

“Or paid him 1.645 million dollars, which includes a $50k Fight of the Night bonus and a $25k discretionary bonus?

“All of this was AFTER the lawsuit, so how can anyone say I have any issues with this guy?

“Bottom line, my job is to put on the best fights in the world and part of that is to protect these guys from themselves. I get it, they’re fighters and they want to fight. But this only works if safety comes first, and that’s always been my goal — to provide a level playing field and a safe, regulated environment for our fighters to compete in. I’ve been doing that for almost 20 years and I’m not going to stop now.”

For more on UFC Fight Night 121, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Marcin Tybura enjoying unexpected benefit of Mark Hunt-Dana White feud

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At this point, Marcin Tybura will tell you, with a laugh, calls from his manager are met with expectations of bad news. But that’s not what he got when his phone rang a little more than a week ago.

Tybura (16-2 MMA, 3-1 UFC) was set to headline next month’s UFC Fight Night 121 event at Sydney’s Qudos Bank Arena opposite Mark Hunt (13-11-1 MMA, 8-5-1 UFC). The call was meant to inform him that was no longer happening. But then came the twist: Tybura had the option of meeting former UFC heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum (22-7-1 MMA, 10-4 UFC) instead.

Tybura first ran it by his coaches. But the “yes” to the new matchup took no longer than an hour to come. Sure, Tybura is now dealing with a “completely different” opponent, with a completely different style. But with six weeks to go, altering the game plan seemed like a minor sacrifice in light of the possible rewards.

“It’s really special for me to fight a Top-2 fighter in the world already in Fabricio,” Tybura told MMAjunkie. “I recognize (he’s) one of the best heavyweights in the world – even the best, because he beat Fedor (Emelianenko) in his prime time, and he beat Cain (Velasquez) at a time when he was unbeatable.

“This guy has something special. I know he’s good. This is the top. That’s what I wanted to do when I came into the UFC, and now it’s happening. So I’m just happy.”

Tybura believed he couldn’t get any more motivated than he already had while training for Hunt, who’s currenly No. 10 in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA heavyweight rankings. But the name of No. 3-ranked Werdum, fresh off a 65-second submission win over late replacement Walt Harris at UFC 216, managed to bring that up a notch.

Of course, what ended up being fine news for Tybura led to a much less uplifting situation involving Hunt. After the UFC cited health concerns and pulled him from the headliner, the ever-candid Hunt made his (ill) feelings on the promotion’s decision public.

Amid threats of a lawsuit against the UFC – another one, that is – Hunt said he was “misquoted” in story (that he penned himself) in which he addressed the toll that his career as a fighter may have had in his brain, including slurred speech and memory loss.

Asked about his feelings upon hearing some of his peers discuss brain trauma, Tybura clarified he doesn’t have access to all the information around Hunt’s health status. But he’s not on board with the way he went about addressing them.

“We all try to show that this is a sport; it’s not only striking somebody in the head,” Tybura said. “I don’t think he should say some stuff like this. But I also don’t think I should be the one to say if somebody is healthy to fight or not.

“I don’t actually know all the details. I’ve just seen the news, the interview he did. I think he shouldn’t say that. He shouldn’t say that.”

On his end, Tybura is certainly enjoying the journey. Now riding a three-fight winning streak, capped off by a UFC Fight Night 111 decision win over Andrei Arlovski, Tybura has recently taken a big step to up his game: He temporarily relocated from his native Poland to the U.S.

Seven weeks into his training at Jackson-Wink MMA, the 31-year-old seems to be happy with his choice.

“So far, it’s amazing, a completely different camp that I used to do,” Tybura said. “And I think it’s much better than what I did before.”

There are a few reasons for that. Apart from the experienced coaches, who offer their expertise not only in training but strategy-wise, Tybura gets to train and spar with high-level talent from all over. While he already felt he was making steady progress in his homeland, his evolution is clear to him.

Of course, there’s a downside to it all; it’s not really easy being away from home. But even that doesn’t faze the heavyweight.

“I’m actually chasing my dream,” Tybura said. “So that’s the price, and I’m cool with that completely.”

Whether his sacrifices will pay off remains to be seen, but beating Werdum would certainly bring some serious validation to the Polish heavyweight’s rise. While Tybura is only four fights into his UFC career, there’s something to be said for getting past an ex-champ in a somewhat shallow division.

Of course, there’s a lot to happen atop the heavyweight ladder. Alistair Overeem, for instance, is scheduled for a high-stakes UFC 218 bout with Francis Ngannou. Velasquez, who’s recently said he’s at “80 percent” in his recovery from injury, is eyeing a 2018 return.

But Tybura is already daring to think a little higher.

“I never talk about what the future is after the fight,” Tybura said. “I actually like to be focused on my task, which is to fight Fabricio Werdum. But, you know, he was a champion like a few months ago.

“So me beating him would be, I think – nothing less than ask for a title shot.”

For more on UFC Fight Night 121, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Despite being labeled a 'bald headed prick,' Dana White insists he doesn't hate Mark Hunt

Apparently, being called a bald-headed prick isn’t enough to ruffle UFC President Dana White’s feathers.

After a scathing, expletive-filled Mark Hunt (13-11-1 MMA, 8-5-1 UFC) rant was directed in his direction, White insists he doesn’t hate “The Super Samoan,” as the veteran heavyweight suggested.

“He made a statement that I’ve hated him forever,” White told TMZSports. “I don’t hate Mark Hunt at all. I’ve never hated Mark Hunt. He knows that. I was actually really good to Mark Hunt.”

Hunt’s frustration stems from being pulled from a planned appearance at November’s UFC Fight Night 121 event in Australia. The 43-year-old Hunt was expected to compete in the night’s main event, but after he published an article admitting to memory loss and slurred speech, UFC officials pointed to medical concerns and pulled him from the fight.

“Sometimes, you’ve got to protect these guys from themselves, and that’s what we’re looking into right now,” White said.

Hunt was ultimately replaced by Fabricio Werdum (22-7-1 MMA, 10-4 UFC), who now faces Marcin Tybura (16-2 MMA, 3-1 UFC) in the night’s headlining contest.

Never one to bite his tongue, Hunt lashed out at White and the UFC via social media. The UFC boss laughed off the attacks and insisted his decision wasn’t a personal matter.

He also laughed off any thoughts of a potential apology from Hunt, who already has one lawsuit in place against the UFC and threatened another.

“I don’t expect an apology at all,” White said.

For more on UFC Fight Night 121, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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Filed under: Featured, News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Twitter Mailbag: UFC's decision to sideline Mark Hunt against his will is a tricky one

If you make your struggle with the effects of brain trauma public, how surprised can you be when a promoter won’t let you fight? But if the promoter won’t let you fight, what do you get to do?

Plus, what’s the fight of the year so far in 2017? And does the UFC flyweight champ need to jump up a division now?

All that and more in this week’s Twitter Mailbag. To ask a question of your own, tweet to @BenFowlkesMMA.

I’m torn on this. On one hand, you want the UFC to be proactive about fighter health and safety. If a fighter tells us that he’s slurring his words and struggling with short-term memory – both major red flags – you don’t want to put that person in a cage to fight for money.

On the other hand, Mark Hunt is currently suing the UFC for what he alleges is a failure to look out for fighter health and safety, so we can’t ignore the context of this move by the UFC.

It’s also worth asking if the UFC just set a precedent that it’s not willing to stick to. Georges St-Pierre has also described issues with his memory (which he attributed to possible alien activity, which is not necessarily any less concerning), but he was never pulled from any fights, and is slated to return for more in November.

Then there’s the question of what you do with a fighter who you’ve deemed medically unfit to fight based on a column he wrote for a website. How can you keep him under contract if you’re not going to let him work?

And if you do release him, does that mean any fighter can get out of his contract by publicly proclaiming his brain to be damaged, only to pop up in Bellator a couple months later declaring that, actually, he’s feeling much better now, thank you?

These are uncharted waters. This wasn’t an athletic commission that pulled Hunt from the fight. And, as far as we know, the decision to pull him wasn’t based on any actual medical testing. UFC officials just read a column with Hunt’s name on it and yanked him, which forces us to wonder about the true motives here.

(Also, if talking openly about brain trauma leads to a de facto suspension, what you’ve really done is ensure that fighters will stay quiet about their symptoms if and when they do appear.)

But again, if Hunt really is experiencing the symptoms he wrote about, he shouldn’t be fighting. I wish the UFC had done more to confirm and investigate that before acting. I also wish it hadn’t decided to make this unprecedented principled stance with a fighter who’s currently battling the promotion in court. Then it would have been a lot easier to know what to make of it.

Are those the only two choices? Because if you told me right now that Rory MacDonald has a goat who he cares for and talks to and secretly feels is the only one in this world who understands him, I would believe that in a heartbeat.

First of all, that’s awesome. Second of all, if ever there was a situation where you don’t want to walk around with an imported IPA in your hand, loudly discussing the superiority of Japanese motorcycles, this is it. Third of all, Roy Nelson? Now that’s natural sponsor synergy, right there. Fourth, remember to have a good time. Fifth, but not so good that you forget to apply sunscreen and end up with the inevitable tank top tan. That’s experience talking, my friend.

Is this love? That you’re feeling? Is this – and here I’m just thinking out loud – the love that you’ve been waiting for?

But I know what you mean. Watching Demetrious Johnson pull off a brand new submission reminded me of one of the things that I’ve always loved about MMA, which is that it’s a sport that’s always growing and changing.

Remember 15 years ago when Tito Ortiz would take somebody down, wedge their head against the fence, and elbow a hole in their face? At the time that felt like a new answer for the relatively old problem of the jiu-jitsu guard. Now it’s the first step to having someone wall-walk their way to an escape.

The nature of MMA – just two humans trying to hurt each other in a cage, with relatively few rules restricting them – makes it an environment that allows for a lot of creativity. The opportunities for evolution are everywhere. New attacks lead to new counters, which then breed new variations on the old moves. Every once in a while, an artist appears to blaze a fresh trail.

You don’t really get as much of that with most other sports. Instead you get people who do the old stuff slightly better than their predecessors. This is one of the things that makes MMA special. I hope we never lose that.

Since we’re talking about a health and safety issue, I’m not sure we want to use “try something – anything!” as our mantra here. Some proposed fixes, like same-day weigh-ins or lengthy suspensions for missing weight, are likely to make things worse, because fighters are still going to take the risks even when it’s a bad idea, and you’re not going to punish your way out of this problem.

I think the best hope for a solution is something along the lines of what California is trying to do, using hydration testing and other methods to determine a safe fighting weight for every athlete, then making the fighters stick to those guidelines even when they don’t want to.

Even that system won’t be perfect. There will be times when it feels like regulatory overreach for a commission to tell someone like Renan Barao that he doesn’t get to be a bantamweight anymore.

Plus, fighters’ bodies change. They get old. Or they just let themselves get out of shape. Just because you determine a safe fighting weight, it doesn’t completely rule out the possibility of fighters trying for last-minute, extreme weight cuts. And if you think it’s a bummer when a fight is scratched due to someone missing weight, wait until a big one is called off because someone is too far from the target weight for the commission to even let them try.

Still, this is obviously an issue. Fighters can literally die this way. Not to mention, it’s just insane to put athletes through that kind of intense depletion a day before the competition. There’s no doubt that performances suffer as a result. Careers are probably shortened, and for what? Just so fighters can face someone roughly their own size in the end?

I support athletic commissions that are serious about changing that culture, but it can’t just be one or two of them. As with anti-doping efforts, this needs to be something the whole sport does if we’re every going to get anywhere.

Ultimately? Antonio Silva is. But I see your point. It’s madness to me that GLORY would even book this fight. What’s the point? To let Rico Verhoeven show out against a big, slow punching bag of an opponent for the sake of some memorable violence? What, to prove some point about kickboxing vs. MMA? Is this some kind of sad, off-brand attempt at a Mayweather-McGregor-esque cross-sport challenge? I don’t get it.

Ideally, the people who love and care about Silva would stop him from doing this, but for various reasons I wrote about back when this fight was announced, that’s not happening. Instead we’re just charging ahead with this like these mismatches aren’t very dangerous, which they are.

I like face-punching and knockouts as much as anyone, but I won’t watch this. I can’t. As viewers and fans, that feels like the least we can do to make this sort of matchmaking stop.

 

Really, that’s your list? There’s something to spoil every one of those, and I’m pretty sure the last one is a cartoon.

If you ask me to pick a fight of the year that I can still feel good about as of this writing, I have to go with Justin Gaethje vs. Michael Johnson. No one got popped for drugs. The judges didn’t screw it up (because Gaethje didn’t give them a chance). The fight was competitive and rational from a matchmaking perspective.

And if that’s not enough, the action was just bananas. B-A-N-A-N-A-S.

That’s not a call for the UFC to make; that’s up to the athletic commission. And no, based on precedence alone, that’s not something that merits an official punishment. We’ve seen fighters get away with much more egregious shots after the bell (looking at you, Germaine de Randamie) and there was no punitive action beyond whatever the referee was willing to do in the fight itself, which is usually nothing at all.

He doesn’t have to, because weight classes exist for a reason. But man, it sure would be great if he did, wouldn’t it?

I can’t help but feel underwhelmed by the thought of watching Johnson keep beating up the same flyweights over and over, all while the UFC has to reach further down the rankings ladder just to find fresh opponents. It feels too easy for a fighter as good as Johnson. He needs a challenge. I’d argue he needs it more than he needs another victory. It’s just a question of whether or not he sees that – and whether or not he cares.

Ben Fowlkes is MMAjunkie and USA TODAY’s MMA columnist. Follow him on Twitter at @BenFowlkesMMA. Twitter Mailbag appears every Thursday on MMAjunkie.

Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Mark Hunt threatens another lawsuit after fight removal, curses 'bald-headed prick' Dana White

Mark Hunt is furious about his removal from the UFC Fight Night 121 main event and said he plans on taking action toward the UFC and company president Dana White.

New broke on Tuesday that Hunt (13-11-1 MMA, 8-5-1 UFC) had been pulled from his scheduled UFC Fight Night 121 headliner with Marcin Tybura (16-2 MMA, 3-1 UFC) due to “medical concerns” stemming from recent statements about brain trauma sustained during his career. He’s been replaced by Fabricio Werdum (22-7-1 MMA, 10-4 UFC)

Hunt was apparently not on board with the UFC’s decision, and he made it well known on social media (via Instagram):

Instagram Photo

@danawhite u peice of shit motherfuker why u fuckers pull me from the fight u getting another lawsuit u fuckwit u can kiss my ass u bald headed prick🖕🖕🖕🖕🖕🖕🖕 u put that chicken shit bitch in get fucked cocksucker

Hunt already has an ongoing lawsuit with the UFC stemming from his UFC 200 bout with Brock Lesnar in July 2016. The promotion waved a drug testing rule for its U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) program that allowed the former UFC heavyweight champion to make a short-notice return to the octagon, then Lesnar subsequently failed multiple drug tests around the time of the fight.

“The Super Samoan” apparently plans to take further legal action over the UFC not allowing him to fight at UFC Fight Night 121, which takes place Nov. 18 at Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney. The card airs on FS1 following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass.

For more on UFC Fight Night 121, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

UFC cites 'medical concerns,' pulls Mark Hunt from UFC Fight Night 121 in favor of Fabricio Werdum

UFC officials today announced that Mark Hunt will no longer compete in the promotions’s return to Australia.

Citing “medical concerns,” Hunt (13-11-1 MMA, 8-5-1 UFC) has been pulled from a planned headlining matchup with Marcin Tybura (16-2 MMA, 3-1 UFC) at November’s UFC Fight Night 121 event at Sydney’s Qudos Bank Arena. Fresh off a win at this past weekend’s UFC 216, Fabricio Werdum (22-7-1 MMA, 10-4 UFC) replaces Hunt in the night’s main event.

Hunt recently penned a piece for PlayersVoice.com.au entitled “If I die fighting, that’s fine,” in which he admitted trouble sleeping and said he’s begin to stutter and slur his words. That prompted UFC officials to pull the 43-year-old slugger from the card.

“Following a recent first-person article published by UFC heavyweight Mark Hunt, UFC has taken the precautionary steps of removing Hunt from a previously announced bout in Sydney, Australia,” a statement first issued to News.com.au read. “The health-related statements made by Hunt in the article represent the first time UFC was made aware of these claims. Athlete health and safety is of the utmost importance to the organization and it would never knowingly schedule an athlete complaining of health issues for a fight. The organization will require that Hunt undergo further testing and evaluations prior to competing in any future UFC bout.”

Hunt immediately took to social media to voice his displeasure with the promotion’s decision.

Instagram Photo

For more on UFC Fight Night 121, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Mark Hunt in new verbal round of anti-PED battle: 'I'd be champ already if it wasn't for the cheaters'

UFC heavyweight Mark Hunt has added another chapter to his long-running battle against PEDs, this time with some intense words.

In a write-up for Australian website PlayersVoice.com.au, Hunt got very real about the impact that more than a decade of being a professional MMA fighter has had in both his mind and body.

“Sometimes I don’t sleep well,” Hunt wrote. “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 (expletive) I did years and years ago.”

And while he accepts the risks associated to making a living as a prizefighter – which include death – the heavyweight doesn’t think the current setup is fair, either.

“That’s just the price I’ve paid – the price of being a fighter,” Hunt continued. “But I’ve fought a lot of drug cheats and copped a lot of punishment from guys who were cheating, and that’s not right.

“I will probably end my life fighting. I’ve been fighting since I was a child, fighting to get out of my circumstances. I used to make $300 a week, struggling to put food on the table, but I have become one of the highest-paid fighters in the world. I feel that’s destiny.

“This is what I’m supposed to be doing, and if I die fighting, that’s fine. I just hope that if it does happen, it will be in an honest and fair competition. My body is (expletive), but my mind is still here. I’ve still got my senses about me, and I know what’s right and wrong, which is the main thing.”

While Hunt has been vocal in his fight against doping in MMA, he hasn’t limited himself to words. After former UFC champion Brock Lesnar failed two tests stemming from their UFC 200 encounter, Hunt decided to take both the UFC and Lesnar to court.

While he asked for both punitive compensatory damages, he told MMAjunkie that it wasn’t entirely about the money – rather, about using it to take away people’s incentive to cheat.

In the post, Hunt said the problem – which saw its most recent high-profile developments with former 205-pound kingpin Jon Jones – runs so deep that he’d advise against his children trying a career in fighting. He also said that he was “a little bit naive” before the Lesnar fight, which has since changed.

“If I had been able to go and take blood from Brock and test him myself then I could have known for sure – I don’t want to fight this guy,” Hunt stated. “It frustrates me when people say, ‘Well, you must have known.’ I was told he was being tested properly.

“I didn’t realise the importance of me voicing my opinion about drugs in the sport until after the Lesnar fight. He hits like a bitch, but he still beat me using pure strength. I’m quite strong and could usually get out of most situations.

“I’ve fought some big guys, but Brock is only 6-foot-3 and he’s still three times my size. How does that work? If I was gearing the same as him, I probably would have thrown him out of the octagon.”

Hunt also rebuffed claims that doping doesn’t help in fighting, arguing that “the cheats” are “stronger and they recover better.” And while he’s proud of having made it this far without performance enhancers, Hunt can’t help but think of all that he’s lost due to his opponents not doing the same.

“I’d be champ already if it wasn’t for the cheaters,” Hunt wrote. “I’d probably be retired, sitting at home playing video games all day, eating KFC. These guys couldn’t cut it with me if they weren’t cheating. I’ve missed out on sponsors and millions of dollars. It pisses me off when I think about it.

“Lesnar is a big name. He’s a superstar. That was my chance to get closer to the title – it would have been my third straight win. Instead, all I got was people hating on me. They say, ‘You’re a whiner, why are you trying to get his money?’ It’s not his money. He shouldn’t get anything.”

One can see where Hunt comes from, considering a lot of his competition has been linked to the use of banned substances at some point. Lesnar, Frank Mir and Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva are recent examples. The latter, whom Hunt fought twice, was suspended after their original UFC Fight Night 33 encounter.

Silva, who was undergoing the later-prohibited testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) at the time, failed a test after his testosterone levels proved too high.  While the slugfest remains hailed as a memorable battle to this day, Hunt doesn’t see it that way.

“Everyone says the first ‘Bigfoot’ fight is one of the greatest heavyweight bouts of all time, but not for me,” Hunt said. “It’s stained. That guy ruined everything. You take away his juice and he’s nothing. The first fight we had, we nearly killed each other. The second fight, when he was clean, he didn’t even last a round.

“He wasn’t the same person as the one that almost frigging killed me. I broke my hand in that first fight. I broke my hand punching a cheater, and I was out for almost a year. I didn’t have work; I had zero income. It takes a lot out of you and has a huge impact on your life.”

But cheaters weren’t the only targets of Hunt’s scathing words. The heavyweight also took aim at the UFC, not only for failing to address the drug issue properly, but also for failing to properly financially compensate their fighters.

“It pisses me off when some fighters say, ‘It’s great to be part of the UFC, it pays the bills,’” Hunt wrote. “It doesn’t. That’s coming from one of the highest-paid fighters in the world. These guys don’t get paid jack (expletive). For someone that makes $200,000-$300,000 a fight, half of that goes to tax and half again is for their camp.

“Then whatever’s left they’ve got to use for their mortgage. If you’ve worked your arse off to get in the top 10, you should be getting paid properly.”

As upset as he is about the state of affairs, though, Hunt clarifies he’s not done just yet. Coming off a win over Derrick Lewis in June, Hunt is now set to meet Marcin Tybura at UFC Fight Night 121 in November. And, with three fights left, the “The Super Samoan” says he is still after what he set out to do: to become a world champion.

“But the next contract I sign I want to put a clause in – the Mark Hunt clause – where a fighter loses all his money if he is caught doping,” Hunt said. “That could be part of my legacy.

“I’m still one of the best fighters on the planet. I honestly don’t care what anyone says. I’m knocking fools out.”

For more on UFC Fight Night 121, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

The Blue Corner is MMAjunkie‘s official blog and is edited by Mike Bohn.

Filed under: Blue Corner, News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Mark Hunt wanted Fabricio Werdum rematch in Sydney, but 'he is getting a manicure'

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Mark Hunt was seeking a bout with a top-ranked heavyweight at UFC Fight Night in Sydney later this year. Unfortunately, no one on his wish list was available, so he was forced to settle for Marcin Tybura as an opponent.

Although Hunt (13-11-1 MMA, 8-5-1 UFC) has spent more than two decades competing in combat sports and is not one to avoid any fight, he did have his sights set on a rematch with Fabricio Werdum (21-7-1 MMA, 9-4 UFC), who beat him by second-round knockout in a short-notice fight at UFC 180 in November 2014.

Hunt said he was angling for another fight against the Brazilian at the Sydney event – or possibly even in Japan next month. However, he claims Werdum didn’t want it (and instead is “getting a manicure), and the fight with Tybura (16-2 MMA, 3-1 UFC) was then booked (via Instagram):

Instagram Photo

UFC Fight Night in Sydney, which takes place Nov. 19 at Qudos Bank Arena, marks the 11th time the UFC has headed to Australia and fourth to Sydney. Due to the time change, the card airs on Nov. 18 in the U.S. on FS1 following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass.

The UFC recently made the bout official (via Twitter):

Hunt, No. 10 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA heavyweight rankings, is coming off a fourth-round TKO win over Derrick Lewis at UFC Fight Night 110 in June. The fight snapped a two-fight skid for “The Super Samoan” and put him in position to headline an event in Australia for the fourth time.

For more on UFC Fight Night in Sydney, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie