UFC isn't swayed by Mark Hunt
Date: 2012-04-15 00:00:00
Submitted By: Come Get You Some
Following a massive online campaign to get Mark Hunt under consideration for a potential title bout - complete with its own #RallyforMarkHunt hashtag - UFC president Dana White squelched the possibility. If Alistair Overeem isn't cleared to fight heavyweight champion Junior Dos Santos at UFC 146, Hunt won't be the replacement. ANOTHER VIEW: Hunt offers stylish choice to face Dos Santos INTERACTIVE: Who should face JDS if Overeem can't? "They can keep rallying," White said on Saturday following UFC on Fuel TV 2 at Stockholm's Ericsson Globe Arena. "That ain't going to happen. Cast Your Vote "Listen, Mark Hunt is going to have to fight one of the top guys. You don't just jump right into the title shot." When Overeem badly failed a surprise drug test earlier this month due to elevated testosterone levels, his availability for the May 26 pay-per-view event was cast into doubt. While ex-champ Frank Mir would appear the most likely candidate should Overeem be nixed following an April 24 Nevada State Athletic Commission hearing, many fans rallied for Hunt, a Kiwi kickboxer who's won three straight UFC fights since a 5-7 start to his pro MMA career. While Hunt has defeated the likes of Chris Tuchscherer, Ben Rothwell and Cheick Kongo during his recent run, White said the PRIDE veteran needs to face more quality competition before he'd get a chance at the belt. Hunt (8-7 mixed martial arts, 3-1 UFC) gets that opportunity on the UFC 146 main card when he meets Stefan Struve (23-5 MMA, 7-3 UFC) at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. "I have apologized and praised Mark Hunt for what he's been able to accomplish in the situation that he was in," White said. "I think this fight with Struve is a good fight for him. If he beats Struve, he'll break in and start fighting some of the top-five heavyweights in the world. "But first of all, I've got to say, anything can happen in a fight, but in all reality, it's not fair to Mark Hunt either to put the guy right in there with a Junior Dos Santos for a title shot. The guy (ideally) works his way up, he beats Struve, fights somebody in the top-five." In a recent interview with MMAjunkie.com, even Hunt described his fill-in status as a longshot. But the fighter, who's accumulated nearly 11,000 Twitter followers in just a few weeks, said he understood his new celebrity status among MMA fans. "I think they just like to see someone that's been down for such a long time and come back," Hunt said. "Everyone has hard times. This whole planet is going through bad times. I think it's just that they like to see the underdog get some. It's always the other way around." White, though, did offer some words of encouragement. While he won't get a title shot at UFC 146, Hunt isn't too far away, he said. "I guarantee you this: If he beats Struve, his next fight will be (against) somebody that's top-five that can get him closer to that title shot," he said.