For those that remember, when news broke almost three years ago that Mark Hunt would be debuting in the UFC it was shocking and almost laughable. Prior to UFC 119, Hunt was on a 5 fight losing streak and hadn't fought in over a year when he was submitted by Gegard Mousasi. UFC president Dana White defended the move saying Hunt was owed fights from the Pride/UFC merger years before and refused to be bought out of his contract. Then, Hunt's debut fight went predictably bad and he was submitted in the first round by Sean McCorkle.
However, in his second UFC fight, Hunt finally ended his losing streak with a second round KO of Chris Tuchscherer at UFC 127. Since then, he's gone undefeated in his last 3 fights against increasing levels of competition. Most recently, he stopped top-10 Heavyweight Stefan Struve in the 3rd round, breaking Struve's jaw in the process. On Thursday, Dana told MMA Junkie what he thinks of "The Super Samoan's" renaissance:
He felt very disrespected and felt like he never really belonged here," White said. "He had a losing record in PRIDE and we didn't want to bring him into the UFC, so we said, 'We'll pay you the money and you can ride off into the sunset and do your thing.' And he was like, 'F--- that. I want to be paid to fight.' First of all, a losing record, his age, the guy hadn't fought in a long time. It just made no sense to bring the guy in.
Even though we weren't wrong (about not wanting him at first), we ended up being wrong. He proved us wrong, he proved everybody who doubted him wrong. We just didn't cut him, we kept him – and imagine if we had cut him.
Since that day, how we didn't want him, and just wanted to pay him and have him basically go away, he took incredible offense to that and never felt like he really belonged here," White said. "I understand that. I said, 'I'll fix the things that made you feel this way. You're right, and I'm sorry this happened to you. We do respect you and I think you're one of the greatest stories in sports right now, to be honest with you.' So I got everything worked out and now he's ecstatic and I'm happy I could do it.
With their problems behind them, Hunt is now set to co-main UFC 160 in a possible title eliminator against former champion Junior Dos Santos. Hunt got the spot after Dos Santos' original opponent Alistair Overeem was forced from the fight due to injury. The fight will go down on May 25 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, NV.