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LATE NIGHT FIGHTS 11: Cinderella has an Iron Jaw - Mark Hunts climb to K1 History - Part 1: "The Most Exciting Fight in K1 History"

Bloody Elbow is the premier MMA community, and it is because every single user brings something to the table whether in the form of humerous banter or expert knowledge in a one of the martial arts. Being a huge fight fan, i believe this is my contribution to the BE community. LATE NIGHT FIGHTS as a series was created in order to highlight great classics and those fights that are often cited but rarely seen as well as the past, present and future legends of MMA in their early non UFC or non MMA bouts. - KJJ

 

 

Mark Hunt was born into a large, tight knit Samoan family in a tough suburb of South Auckland, New Zealand. He was a troubled kid and had no intentions to be a professional fighter, until one late night altercation outside a nightclub in Auckland changed the course of his life. The brawl did not last long, Hunt knocked out his adversary. One of the bouncers at the door was so impressed by the young man’s knockout power and invited him to Sam Marster's Gym to take up formal training. A couple of weeks later in 1995 in Otahuhu, New Zealand, Hunt was in the ring on his Kickboxing debut and knocked out his opponent Gary Hart in the second round. Mark got a six-pack of beers as payment and the bouncer became his first muay thai coach. Later that year Mark moved to Sydney, Australia to train with Alex Tui. Few years later he settled in Liverpool Kickboxing Gym under fellow Samoan instructor Hape Nganoroa.

 

 

Mark Hunt is a bad dude. One look at the fighters he has faced over the years and you realize Mark is no can crusher. This list includes: Semmy Schilt, Gary Goodridge, Jerome Le Banner x3, Stefan Leko x2, Franciso Filho, Mike Bernardo, Adam Watt, Ray Sefo, Peter Graham x2, Hiromi Amada, Chris TuchschererGegard Mousasi, Melvin ManhoefAlistair OvereemFedor EmelianenkoJosh Barnett, Tsuyoshi Kohsaka, Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic x2, Wanderlei Silva, Dan Bobish, Hidehiko Yoshida, Rony Sefo. Hunt has faced big power punchers, lethal kickers, top flight catch wrestlers, Muay Thai technicians, World Champon Kuyoshin Karateka's, Revered Judo Masters, Pro Boxers,  International Sambo Champion and HW Goat Fedor, and a bevy of Former, Present, and Future K1, Strikeforce, Its Showtime!, PRIDE, World Boxing Organization and UFC title fighters and Champions. Follow me through this three part series detailing one of the biggest Cinderella storys of Combat Sports history. The hard headed native of South Auckland, New Zealand moves from beating up bouncers to the biggest kickboxing and MMA stage in the world.

 

Tonite we look at Part One: Long revered as one of the most exciting K1 fights in history. The volume of flush punches would make Pretty Boy Floyd blush as these two Oceaniac fighters stand toe to toe and trade bombs for 3 rounds.   Ray Sefo is a fighter known for being only one of 4 men to ever drop Semmy Schilt. This is a sampling of the power of Sefo, as demonstrated on Jerome Le Banners jaw:

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Now on to Mr. Hunt - first we need a little backround on How We Got Here:

 In the beginning of his career, Hunt was used by the promoters as a stepping stone for their up and coming fighters, taking up fights at short notice, until Tarik Solak promoted K-1 Oceania tournament in February 2000. With a record of (15-4, 3KO) Hunt entered his first K-1 tournament as a heavy underdog.

He won the K-1 Oceania title by knocking out "The Coconut Crusher" Aumitagi in quarter finals, Rony Sefo in semis and Phil Fagan in the finals. After this impressive performance he was invited to Japan for K-1 qualifications. He lost his first international fight by unanimous decision against Jérôme Le Banner.

In 2001, Hunt returned to K-1 by winning the K-1 Oceania tournament for the second consecutive year. After that he took part of K-1 World GP 2001 in Melbourne, where he beat Japanese boxer Hiromi Amada, before suffering a close unanimous decision loss to reigning champion Ernesto Hoost. However, because of his exciting fighting style Hunt was granted a wildcard spot in the repercharge tournament for the K-1 World GP 2001 Finals, when Mirko Filipović had to pull out due to injury. He was drawn against Ray Sefo.

This is definately a big name big primetime fight, with a spot in the K1 WGP Qualifying Finals at stake. In my research i stumbled upon Head Kick Legend's preview of the fight, its spectacular as always:

 

On October 8, 2001, eight fighters stepped into the ring in Fukuoka, Japan for their final shot at the 2001 Grand Prix finals. The Fukuoka event was highlighted by two 4-man mini-tournaments, with the winner of each tournament advancing to the GP finals on December 8. As a result, the stakes for this show were extremely high, with every man knowing this night could effectively end his 2001 season. The last semi-final of the draw pitted two New Zealand countrymen at very different stages of their K-1 careers against one another.

On one side of the ring stood "Sugarfoot" Ray Sefo. One of the unofficial spokesmen of K-1, Sefo had been a fixture of the company since 1996 and had faced all the big names from Hoost to Aerts to LeBanner to Hug. In 2001, Sefo was coming off his greatest year, making it to the final fight of the 2000 Grand Prix, where he lost to the great Ernesto Hoost. Despite his 2000 successes, Sefo was coming in to this fight off of a loss to a little known fighter making his Japanese K-1 debut at the time by the name of Remy Bonjasky. A knockout machine with one of the highest KO ratios in K-1, Sefo was at the peak of his skills, and highly regarded.

His opponent was a relative newcomer to the sport of kickboxing. Mark Hunt had made his professional debut just two years earlier, and entered K-1 as a severe underdog in 2000 at the K-1 Oceania tournament. Hunt surprised fans in that tournament, coming out victorious and earning himself a shot on a main K-1 show. His K-1 debut came in July 2000, where he lost a decision to the man who would eventually become perhaps his greatest rival in Jerome Le Banner. After successfully defending his Oceania title in 2001, Hunt was now coming off back-to-back loses including a hard-fought decision loss to reigning champion Hoost (in one of those fight where the loser still walks away a winner), and to Peter Graham. Popular for his exciting style, Hunt was something of a wildcard in this tournament.

The stage was set. Two exciting, hard-hitting fighters, one known for his knockout power, one known for his resilience to being knocked out. Fans knew this one could be good.

 

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Ray Sefo Aftermath: Sefo fought many more great fighters as his career progressed. After the Hunt fight we would fight the likes of Mike Benardo, Gilbert Yvel, Gary Goodridge, Marvin Eastman, Bob Sapp, Semmy Schilt, Ruslan Karaev, Ernesto Hoost, Peter Aerts,Musasi, Melvin Manhoef, Badr Hari, Gokhan Saki, Tyrone Spong. Ray Sefo would enter the world of mixed martial arts in 2005. He defeated Min Soo Kim (Brock Lesnar's debut opponet) by head kick. He also defeated Kevin Jordan (wrong end of a Gabe Gonzaga superman punch) and recently succumbed to Valentijn Overeem's neck crank at Strikeforce Fedor v Silva in New Jersey. 

 

Join us next Monday for Part 2 of the Mark Hunt Trilogy. Mark fights a Top 20 ranked boxer who made it all the way to a W.B.O title fight (for those not familiar with boxings alphabet soup - WBO is a legit title) and also a fighting frenchman Jerome Le Banner as Mark "Hunt"'s down revenge!

 

Other Recent LNF Installments:

LNF 10: The one where Forrest Griffin gets his left arm broken and gets the KO with the right one, Taps Chael Sonnen

LNF 9: Ricco "Suave" Rodriguez taps out Big Nog in under 3 minutes. Todd Duffee vs Josh Bennett

LNF 8: Anatomy of a Controversy Part 1 - A Punch by Punch Analysis of Machida - Shogun 1

Upcoming LNF:

LNF 12: Vitor Belforts Boxing debut. Spider Silva Muay Thai Match

LNF 13: Anatomy of a Controversy Part 2: A Punch by Punch Analysis of Hominick - Garcia.

LNF 14: Cinderella has an Iron Jaw - Mark Hunt's rise to K1 glory : Part 2 - 

\The FanPosts are solely the subjective opinions of Bloody Elbow readers and do not necessarily reflect the views of Bloody Elbow editors or staff.

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