Remember the "Rally for Mark Hunt?" The online groundswell of support for the Super Samoan— kickboxing legend turned resurgent MMA star—to get a shot at Junior Dos Santos when Alistair Overeem was popped for high testosterone in 2012?
Those were the days.
Hunt was on a three-fight winning streak and had been absolutely smashing guys against all odds, getting grossly better in his UFC career as he got closer to 40 years old. The promotion decided not to give Hunt the short-notice shot that night, opting for Frank Mir instead.
Well, he got his chance a year later.
The circumstances were different, but the fight with Dos Santos still happened. The Brazilian no longer had the title, but another Overeem withdrawal put Hunt in there with the division's best boxer.
Fans got everything they wanted and more, with Hunt absorbing tremendous punishment before Dos Santos finished him with a shocking spinning kick. The bout was a war, winning Fight of the Night, but Hunt fell to 9-8 overall and was suddenly much less of a talking point.
Fast forward six months, and Hunt is headlining UFC Fight Night 33 this weekend against Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva. He's still a resurgent 39-year-old, 4-1 in his past five fights, but there is much less hoopla this time out.
He's got quality tools at his disposal and seems committed to improving those that require improvement. He's as tough as anyone in the sport, has a lifetime of elite striking behind him and has gradually learned a little submission defense along the way. He can get up when you take him down, and he knows what to do once he's back upright.
So why aren't people still excited about him?
It could be age. It could be the "What have you done for me lately?" nature of MMA. It could be that the fight is happening in Australia, making it less accessible to many people. Whatever the reason, we're definitely not hearing as much about him these days.
He deserves better than that, truthfully. The Dos Santos loss confirmed that his Rocky story won't end in a title run, but he's still putting on great fights and providing photo finishes almost every time he goes out there.
So yes, the mystique of Mark Hunt has probably worn off a little bit. But take the time to pay attention to his fight with Silva this weekend.
One way or another, he's going to give you something great, even if it doesn't start another rally.