If UFC 160's hype week showed anything, it's that everybody loves them some "Super Samoan" Mark Hunt. The wildly popular heavyweight is adored not just for his ability to punch through an oak tree, but his tendency to turn and walk away while the tree is still on its way down, not unlike Barry Bonds or Paul Bunyan. And his Cinderella run to the top of the division has inspired everymen across the MMA world.
Junior dos Santos undoubtedly provides Hunt's toughest test to date in the UFC Octagon. Hunt is a substantial underdog against the ex-champ, himself a powerful striker and possibly the best boxer in the promotion. Can Hunt pull it out? Sure he can. But to do so, he'll need to answer these questions.
Dos Santos will probably try to stand and box with Hunt. But if Hunt lands one of those bunker busters, JDS could quickly adjust that strategy.
According to FightMetric, Hunt has defended 70 percent of his opponents' takedown attempts during his MMA career. That's pretty good, but he earned that mark against the likes of Ben Rothwell and Chris Tuchscherer.
Once an Achilles' heel the size of New Zealand, Hunt's ground game is at least no longer horribly dysfunctional. But he probably still doesn't want to go there. If dos Santos, whose ground attack has been ballyhooed for years but rarely seen in live action, shoots in, will Hunt be able literally to stand up to it?
Hunt is praised almost as often for his iron head as he is for his iron fists. He has only been knocked out once in his MMA career, and that was back in 2008 to Melvin Manhoef, who makes a nice side living punching through mountainsides for the railroad company.
He's tough to be sure, but so are dos Santos's fists. If JDS opens up Hunt's defense and starts landing clean shots to the face, which I think he will, how will Hunt stand up to the barrage?
After all, Hunt is 39 years old, and including his kickboxing career, this will be his 60th professional fight. It's been a while since Hunt's chin has been tested by anyone like dos Santos.
People remember Hunt's UFC 135 decisioning of Ben Rothwell for Rothwell's comical gasout in the thin Colorado air. But they forget that Hunt was right there with him. Those two guys were stumbling around like the town drunks in an Irish novel.
To me, this is a bigger question than whether Hunt can get inside on JDS or launch his counter striking game. And there's no question at all that he has the power to end this fight if he gets the chance. In fact, this might be the biggest question of all.
Dos Santos bounces around the cage with footwork and won't want to get too close to Hunt. Hunt will have to come to him, to one extent or the other. He'll make Hunt work for his keep. Will he be up to it? THAT, as they say, is the question.