Kiwi Te Huna the UFC's latest smash hit

BEN STANLEY
Last updated 10:56 24/02/2013
James Te Huna
Fairfax NZ
RAW TALENT: UFC fighter James Te Huna prepares to battle in the octagon.

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James Te Huna is a smash hit in the UFC - in and out of the Octagon.

The Kiwi mixed martial artist's stunning recovery from a first-round knockdown to ground-and-pound his way to a fourth straight win has put him in line for a Top-10 fight.

And his choreographed Men in Black tribute dance, on his way to the ring at London's Wembley Arena last Sunday, is an internet sensation.

Next day, a clip of the routine had already notched up more than 34,000 views on YouTube and featured in newspapers worldwide, including England's Daily Mirror and the Sydney Morning Herald.

"No one else has done one [a walkout like that] in the UFC before and we always talked about how cool it would be to walk out to Men in Black," Te Huna told Sunday News. "We always liked the Men in Black song, and thought it would be pretty cool to walk out looking smart in suits, and Ray-Bans on."

Te Huna and his crew rehearsed the Will Smith-inspired walkout moves every night for two weeks heading into the fight with highly rated Canadian light heavyweight Ryan Jimmo.

Commentators praised the "awesome" routine, as the crowd loudly applauded.

A YouTube clip of the moves asks if it was the "Best UFC entry ever?"

The thrills continued in the Octagon, with Te Huna defending grimly to survive a devastating first-round Jimmo head kick that sent him crashing to the canvas.

The Kiwi hardman dominated the second and third rounds with his powerhouse grappling, earning him a unanimous points decision.

The normally reserved Te Huna has previously entered the Octagon to Che Fu's Waka and Mark Morrison's hip-hop classic Return of the Mack.

"Every minute I was getting another tweet over the last three days," he said of tributes to his Men in Black routine, hinting another dance move may be on the way.

"It's been a massive response. The crowd loved it - it was different. I've set a mark for it, so it will be pretty hard to top this one.

"It was more of a surprise - especially from someone like myself. I think it caught everyone off guard. I might have another one in store for next fight - we'll see."

Te Huna's stock is on the rise in the UFC. The 31-year-old former Sydney bricklayer now has a 5-1 record in the UFC since his first fight in February 2010, and will likely face a Top 10 opponent in his next fight later this year.

UFC kingpin Dana White has even been tweeting how impressed he was in the abilities of the Kiwi - whose Darfield, Christchurch, birthplace was flashed across TV screens in international coverage of his match-up against Jimmo.

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Te Huna has also revealed he had in-camp issues leading into the bout.

"I had problems going into the fight," he said.

"...I had a ton of excuses to lose the fight - but I managed to get a win."

Former K-1 world champion Mark Hunt will fight Dutch heavyweight Stefan Struve in Saitama, Japan, next Sunday.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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