Kiwi fighters chase their dream in brutal arena

BEN STANLEY
Last updated 05:00 26/05/2013
James Te Huna
BIG OPPORTUNITY: Kiwi MMA fighter James Te Huna.
Mark Hunt
Reuters
BIG CHALLENGE: Mark Hunt will take on Junior dos Santos.

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OPINION: To quote a certain Stone Roses' track from their sublime debut self-titled album, "this is the one, this is the one, I've waited for".

For the last few years, a couple of us journos at the Sunday News have bought readers the best UFC coverage any media organisation in New Zealand has been able to offer.

We've had exclusive spreads on Mark Hunt, James Te Huna, Jon "Bones" Jones and Junior dos Santos. We've had a column from Te Huna, a Darfield-born lad, turned Sydney brickie, turned UFC light heavyweight hardman.

We've had all the best reaction and breaking news as far as Kiwis, and anyone involved in the world's top MMA organisation, goes.

And now, well, this is the one. Hunt and Te Huna, our boys, our Kiwis, taking centre stage at UFC 160 in Las Vegas today.

Two massive fights against Junior dos Santos and Glover Teixeira. Two massive opportunities for Kiwis to prove to the world of MMA who we are, and what we can do.

Make no mistake: today is the biggest day in New Zealand MMA history. A day that the fight community in New Zealand might one day look back on and say, that was the moment it all changed.

Both our boys are going to be right up against it. Hunt takes on one of the greatest heavyweights the top UFC division as ever seen in dos Santos.

The Brazilian is quick, has powerful strikes, and will be a terror on the ground if he gets Hunts down there. But Hunt has heart. A comeback story like few others in Kiwi sport, the Auckland-born bruiser tasted success in K-1, crashed and burned - losing it all, and has fought his way back in UFC.

Today marks the next step in what has been a remarkable redemption story. Victory could bring him within one fight of a title shot.

In Te Huna, we've got a modern-day Maori warrior, a proud Ngati Tuwharetoa bloke, taking on the light heavyweight's most hyped, in Teixeira.

His task is towering too, but Te Huna shares Hunt's best quality. He has heart. He can take the damage. He'll never give up. MMA fans, and Sunday News' readers, know this. They know what these two blokes have given our country in their sport.

I'll be at Mt Smart Stadium for the Warriors versus Newcastle Knights game today, when both lads enter the octagon.

Though I'd love to be at the Grey Lynn Tavern watching each moment with my mates, I'll be updating like crazy on Twitter from the Mt Smart press box.

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Hope there's nothing UFC-like about the result in the footy today, by the way.

Defeat is possible today, even likely, but as anyone who has ever been in a scrap will tell you, one moment is all a fighter needs.

To quote that same Stone Roses' song again: "it may go right, it might go wrong. But this is the one I've waited for."

- © Fairfax NZ News

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