The rallying can cease for the time being. Mark Hunt has earned his spot against Junior dos Santos at UFC 160. That is step one.
The next step is winning the fight, but does Hunt (with a career record of 9-7) actually have a chance at the upset?
Not a big one, no.
Many will instantly repeat the go-to lines of, “anything can happen with four-ounce gloves” and “he has a puncher’s chance." Both statements are true, but they do not accurately break down Hunt’s chance against JDS in the co-main event.
Hunt is a K-1 World Champion, but that gives out a preconceived notion about his striking. As Bleacher Report’s Jack Slack pointed out in his breakdown of Hunt’s striking, “He lacked a lot of polish in K-1 even after improving his technique.”
Hunt is going to have a lot of problems against dos Santos.
The former UFC heavyweight champion loves to stand and trade leather and will probably test the waters against Hunt as well. However, if he does want to take the fight to the mat and go for a submission, he can submit Hunt with relative ease. We may finally get to see some of his jiu-jitsu on display in this fight.
On the feet, JDS also will prove to be a difficult out for Hunt.
Stefan Struve’s striking is nowhere on the level of dos Santos. JDS proved that by the first-round knockout when those two met in 2009. Struve has an all-around problem in his striking defense. That gives quality strikers like Hunt plenty of opportunities to level the tallest fighter in the UFC.
JDS will not give those same opportunities to Hunt. The former champion will not give him those chances early in the fight.
Slack’s post-fight analysis of the Hunt-Struve fight shows you, in detail, why Hunt caught Struve, and it can give you an idea of why he is not likely to catch dos Santos.
Dos Santos’ boxing is much more proficient than Struve’s. He utilizes much better footwork and head movement. Where Struve stood still when throwing his jab, dos Santos will not.
When Hunt tries to counterattack, JDS will simply not cover up and give him openings to the body and behind his arms.
This is a good matchup for dos Santos. He can keep the fight standing if he chooses or take this fight to the ground. So, when does Hunt’s chance to upset dos Santos come?
It can come late.
For all of dos Santos’ skills and abilities, he has shown a habit of tiring later in the fight. Part of the issue is his high output of punishment in the early rounds, and anyone who can absorb his blows will be able to be around in the third. Hunt can definitely take the blows.
When fighters begin to tire, their defenses start to show holes. That is where one well-placed punch can rock the former champion and end the fight.
Hunt’s chances to win are bleak.
It is accurate to say Hunt has a “puncher’s chance,” but that will not be in the opening minutes of the fight. Hunt will have to wait until dos Santos slows and shows some openings late in the fight. If Hunt can hang around until then, he has a small window of opportunity to shock the MMA world and become the top contender for the UFC Heavyweight Championship.