Unrequited Love: My Man Crush on UFC 160 Heavyweight Mark Hunt
No offense to Junior dos Santos, but I want to see his head in the third row Saturday night, courtesy of a Mark Hunt uppercut.
I have no personal animus toward JDS at all, mind you. I enjoy watching him fight and have found him to be a class act—so save the indignant "hater" replies in the comments. I wish him all the best. Just not at UFC 160. And not against Hunt.
They say there's no cheering in the press box. But my press box is at home, on the couch, with a giant plate of chicken wings and the volume turned up to 11. My family's used to it, and I'm pretty sure my two cats, Jack and Jill, won't mind if I do my Lenne Hardt impression early and often. And so I will.
Putting into words my special relationship with Mark Hunt is hard. In truth there is no relationship, or at best, it's one that is completely one-sided.
I've never met Mark Hunt. He's one of the elusive few fighters who have managed to avoid an interview with yours truly. Our few interactions on the Internet, in the midst of the #RallyforMarkHunt movement that swept hardcore MMA circles last year, were tantalizingly brief and unsatisfying.
So how to explain why this man means so much to me as a fight fan?
I tried in vain on Twitter. The best I could come up with was a simple description: He's a fat, fearless, indestructible, bowling ball of a man who punches hard. Really hard.
That doesn't quite express exactly who Hunt is, though. Fat? Hard-punching? I could just as easily be talking about Roy Nelson—and trust me, Roy Nelson has never done anything remotely Huntian in the cage.
Hunt is a force of nature, a man put on this earth to destroy cities. We're lucky the power of his rage has been harnessed and focused on prize fighting. Armies have fallen to lesser men than Mark Hunt.
The best thing about Hunt is the inner troll he lets loose every time he fights. He wants to sucker his opponent in, make him careless and sloppy. Hands hanging low, he's waiting for a mistake, for a chance to trade punches, even if it's two of his opponent's for one of his haymakers.
Hunt is willing to bet the fight that his one blow is worth more than his opponent's entire output. And, all too often, he's right.
His head is the bait. Think about that for a minute. That seems like an awful big risk to take, and it is for any normal human.
Watch him above take the best Ray Sefo has to offer and never even change expressions, let alone flinch. Sefo is no slouch, a kickboxer who had beaten some of the best in the world, including the great Peter Aerts. Hunt treated his punches like they were gnats—annoying, stinging but ultimately inconsequential.
Of course, this sport is full to bursting with men doing the unthinkable, fighters taking insane risks and living with the consequences. That alone doesn't make Hunt special. It's the way he does it that turns a fun fighter into a legend. Hunt, despite looking like the kind of guy who wears Zubaz pants with pride, has the kind of swagger you just can't teach.
There's something cool about Mark Hunt. Witness his knockout of Chris Tuchscherer if you don't believe me. Hunt landed his trademark uppercut, one that started at his hip and collided with the wrestler's jaw line at the apex of its power and destructive force, and then he just walked away. Not even walked—he straight sauntered off, not even bothering to finish the fight with ground-and-pound.
It's like he knew the fight was over—he is Mark Hunt after all, and when Mark Hunt hits you, well, you stay hit.
Amazingly, he managed to top that performance against Stefan Struve, landing a huge left hook that dropped the giant, breaking his jaw and the Internet as MMA fans rushed to post GIFs of the incredible moment. Hunt, who again walked away like it was no thing, looked like he was already thinking about where to find fried chicken in Japan after the post-fight presser was done.
None of this is meant to suggest that Hunt is going to walk through dos Santos this weekend. He's lost 21 times in 61 career fights. Unbeatable he isn't. And we wouldn't want him to be. It's his human qualities that make him special—his vulnerability that makes his fearlessness so remarkable.
Mark Hunt can lose. Mark Hunt can be hurt. Mark Hunt doesn't seem to care. And that's exactly why we do.
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