Since this whole visa fiasco with Hunt started I have been tweeting various Bloody Elbow and MMA Fighting reporters asking why his 2002 arrest had suddenly become a problem. I was curious because it demonstrated inconsistency on the part of US immigration authorities.
The arrest happened in 2002. Hunt said in an interview with an MMA site (which I can unfortunately no longer find) that this arrest had caused him to be denied a visa before, in the mid-2000s, which prevented him from fighting in a PRIDE event. However, since that time Hunt has fought in Denver (in 2011, at UFC 135), and so has clearly become able to obtain a US work visa. Now suddenly in 2013 this past arrest becomes a problem again. WTF?
Unfortunately, none of the people I asked about this situation were able to answer my question.
However, thankfully the good people over at Fighters Only have stepped up and provided the answer.
May 20th 2013
Mark Hunt has finally been granted his visa to travel to the US and fight at UFC 160 next week.
The May 25 fight had been placed in jeopardy when Hunt, who has fought numerous times in the US, was denied the right to board a flight to Las Vegas from New Zealand two weeks ago because of a 2002 arrest.
Despite that arrest having previously been looked into by US immigration officials, it had to be dragged up all over again. Part of the problem was that Hunt recently started using a new passport and his US visas were in his old passport.
On Sunday, Hunt confirmed via Twitter that he has received his visa and can now make his way to the US for the fight with former heavyweight champion Junior Dos Santos, which potentially has a title shot riding on it for the winner.
Hunt has previously disclosed the difficulties he has with adjusting to the time zone difference between Las Vegas and New Zealand, hence his wanting to arrive several weeks in advance to acclimatize himself.
Instead one more huge obstacle has been placed in his way as he will be fighting just days after stepping off the plane and will be very unlikely to have beaten the jet leg which accompanies such a long trip.
A small silver lining for Hunt is that at least he is now traveling business class. He recently complained about his contract specifying economy flights and was able to get it changed to something more suited to a man of his physical and metaphorical stature.
So, there you have it. It all came down to getting a new passport. Amazing how something so small can trip you up.
Anyway, the important thing is that Hunto is on his way now and will get his chance to earn a title shot!