A couple weeks ago, FiveOuncesOfPain.com broke the news that former PrideFC heavyweight and K-1 stand out Mark Hunt will participate in UFC 119 on the event's under card.
The move came with questions directed at UFC president Dana White, asking the meaning behind signing a fighter who, although was very popular during the peak Pride years, has lost five in a row.
No mystery there. Contractual obligations are what they are. Hunt has to be paid, so the fights have to happen.
But, even if you're not excited about the UFC signing a guy who has lost five consecutive fights, one has to appreciate the potential for stand-up wars that may happen as a result of acquiring of the New Zealand fighter.
If you can look up any old footage of Pride, you'll notice Hunt in a decent amount of them taking shot after shot to the head. A head made of Stone, that man has.
The fact is, Hunt's potential to make a fight interesting is much higher than other heavyweights due to his willingness to stand and bang with, just about, anyone they throw at him.
The combination of Mark Hunt, his Easter Island-hard skull and Joe Silva's match making ability makes for a perfect combination for entertaining fights that can sell to both casual and hard-cores fans alike.
The casual fan enjoys a good slug fest. Mark Hunt will, no doubt, provide that. He's a stand-up fighter with a history of attempting to keep fights on the feet.
Hard-cores can find solace in seeing another former PrideFC fighter enter the Octagon and perform against top tier talent, and possibly attempt another atomic butt drop .
Yes, atomic butt drop. Click here to find out what I mean.
Hunt is scheduled to fight Sean McCorkle at UFC 119 in September, but what is more intriguing is speculating who else the New Zealander could trade shots with for the duration of his four fight contract. Assuming he gets passed McCorkle, there are several quality match-ups that Joe Silva, Dana White and UFC front office personnel can put together.
One fighter that comes to mind as a decent opponent is the young Dutchman, Stefan Struve.
Struve's length is a problem for anybody in the division. His reach is longer than just about everyone above 206 pounds. However, Hunt is the type to find his way into the pocket and throw shots. Hunt will, likely, be willing to engage and work past Struve's reach.
It's almost guaranteed he'll get hit with a few shots prior to finding his sweet spot.
The fact that Struve's background is in kickboxing is a big help. This makes the fight a match-up with KO potential. However, if the fight goes to the ground, Struve's Brazilian jiu-jitsu will bring a quick end to the battle.
Another quality combatant that comes to mind is, the always entertaining, Pat Barry.
Stocky and loaded with power, Barry packs a punch (or kick) well suited to test the grit of Mark Hunt. If anyone can show that Hunt's ironclad jaw can be penetrated, Barry is the perfect candidate to take on the assignment.
The great thing about a fight between Hunt and Barry is that the trading of leg kicks is all but inevitable. Tree trunk for tree trunk until one of these Redwoods is down and out.
Lastly, and most certainly not least, the idea of a rematch with Mirko Cro Cop Filipovic is a hardcore fan's guilty pleasure.
The Croatian kick boxer is in a place he's never been in the UFC--a two fight win streak. If Hunt continues his winning ways, a date with Filipovic may be in the cards for the UFC newcomer.
The two have faced each other before--twice, as a matter of fact, with one in MMA and the other in K-1. The first fight was in 2002 when Hunt and Cro Cop met in a kickboxing match that saw the Croatian taking a unanimous decision. The fight included a highlight knockdown by way of a left high kick by Cro Cop to the dome of Hunt.
Definitely a classic K-1 match.
The MMA fight took place five years ago at Pride Shockwave 2005. The bout ended with Hunt taking a razor-close split decision. Cro Cop threw, just about, every kick he had in his arsenal, but he was unable to permanently put down the hard-headed Hunt. The addition of wrestling shoes at the end of axe kicks didn't help inflict anymore damage to Hunt.
A rematch between the two would be an unofficial rubber match and a joy for those who have followed these two fighters since the hay-day of Pride.
Of course, these match-ups are, in no way, guaranteed, but the thought of Mark Hunt and his brick skull in the UFC's heavyweight division makes for an interesting scenario.
Lots of potential KOs in the coming months.