The UFC isn't able to replace Alistair Overeem. The fight between him and Junior Dos Santos was the best fight there has ever been in the heavyweight division, and once Overeem failed the surprise pre-fight drug screening, the quality of the card took a huge and immediate hit.
Whoever is brought in to face Dos Santos, it won't be as nearly a big a fight, but the UFC must make the best of a bad situation by putting on the fight the fans want to see, which is JDS vs. Mark Hunt.
If Hunt wins the UFC heavyweight title, then script writers in Hollywood need to drop everything, because there is a new movie being made about the man who the UFC never even wanted, who snapped a six-fight losing streak to somehow work his way back into title contention.
Hunt's story is made for Hollywood, and at the age of 38, he could be on the verge of a very happy ending. I'm getting ahead of myself here because there is every chance that even if the fight does happen, Hunt won't win.
He should still be given the chance to try, however, because he has many of the same qualities as Overeem, including K-1 level striking and a preference for the stand-up over the ground game. Frank Mir, who may be the most viable alternative, would have come in with nothing else on his mind except to take Dos Santos to the ground.
The winner of the Strikeforce Grand Prix deserves a contract with the UFC and maybe even a title shot. But bringing in one of the Grand Prix finalists at this stage would completely undermine the entire process, so I think the names of Josh Barnett and Daniel Cormier can be scratched off the list.
Fedor Emelianenko is going to be fighting in Russia in June, and there are plenty of other top heavyweights not signed to Zuffa for him to fight. (Not.) The Pride legend would have been a popular replacement for Overeem, but a difficult one to organize, as the UFC would not sign him to a one-fight contract just in case he actually beat Dos Santos.
The UFC has shown a willingness to sabotage Strikeforce in the past, so abandoning the heavyweight Grand Prix to rescue the UFC 146 card might be an option. Fabricio Werdum could also be pulled off the UFC 147 card and given a title shot in recognition of his services to the Dana White cause in giving Emelianenko his first loss in nearly 10 years.
Hunt is the only option that would satisfy the fans. None of these fighters has really earned a title shot yet, but at least the possibility of the 38-year-old becoming the most unlikely UFC champion in history would give people something to talk about.
The UFC has turned into a gigantic global business because of their loyal fans. It's time to give the fans what they want by letting Mark Hunt have a heavyweight title shot.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!