Mark Hunt targeting former UFC champion

DUNCAN JOHNSTONE
Last updated 09:30 13/03/2013
Mark Hunt
Reuters
BIG CHALLENGE: Mark Hunt will take on Junior dos Santos.

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Rugged New Zealand fighter Mark Hunt has ironed out problems with UFC boss Dana White to clear the way for a top-ranked bout with former heavyweight champ Junior dos Santos.

The pair were confirmed as one of the feature fights on UFC 160 in Las Vegas on May 25, after earlier Twitter reports had Hunt turning down the golden opportunity.

"I had a few discrepancies about the way I was being treated and stuff," Hunt told a specialist MMA radio broadcast yesterday as the air was cleared.

He didn’t go into too many details about his problems, other than to admit unhappiness with his allocation of tickets to last week’s fight in Japan, compared to some of the other fighters on the card.

Hunt’s stocks rose on the back of his knockout demolition of giant Dutchman Stefan Struve in Japan.

"I just wasn't happy with some of the things that were getting done here. As an employee of a company, I shouldn't be treated the way I was being treated. I didn't think it was fair,” Hunt said.

"Dana listened to what I had to say, which was pretty cool. I voiced my opinions about different things that I wasn't happy about, and now I'm [happy]. He said, ‘You know, I can't fix the problem if I don't what the problem is.' He's being pushed so many places because he's got a big company. But I said, you know, being the boss of the company should know what goes on. I was happy he listened and then he fixed the problem. It was good. He's a good person. He listened to what I had to say and sorted it out, so it was fine."

The 38-year-old Hunt is a fan favourite with fans. Hunt broke Struve’s jaw last week and it his sheer power that makes him a valuable commodity. Now he thinks he’s being valued correctly.

"I'm a pretty straight up person. And I'd told the truth. What my thing is, I tell most of the time the truth, and sometimes it's good for me, sometimes it's bad. But, it's true. I don't turn down fights unless I'm injured. Never have. So it's a part of my makeup. Like I said, opportunities don't come that often, so you've got to take them when they come. I wasn't taking a dig at anyone. It was just the way I was voicing my opinion. That's the good thing about Twitter."

Hunt sees the dos Santos fight as a huge chance as his fighting career gets a second wind.

"Opportunities very rarely come, and as a fighter, fighting has come a second time around for me. I won the world title already as a K-1 fighter. I lost interest in fighting and then mixed martial arts came. And this is just another opportunity for me to prove, to be a part of the best fighters in the league. Junior was the world champion before he lost to Cain (Velasquez), and the opportunity is here. I'm so amped about it. I'm so pumped."

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Many in the know are predicting a classic battle between these two heavy punchers while dos Santos is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt to make him so dangerous on the ground. But Hunt clearly believes much of this battle will be done on his feet.

"He's like me," said Hunt. "He likes to stand there and bang. You know, I'd like to test his mettle. He was the best fighter in the world, and I consider myself the best fighter in the world. I class my striking really highly and so does he.

"I can beat anybody. You want to fight, man? I'm your huckleberry, baby."

- Stuff

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