THE RUKUS PERSPECTIVE- MARK HUNT’S ROAD TO THE TITLE
To say that there is no clear cut path to the UFC Heavyweight Title would be a huge understatement. For years, that pathway has been tangled up by interim champions, money fights, feuds, injuries and rematches. Seems like your everyday weight class drama when trying to figure out the title picture. But what is it about the Heavyweight division, the one that seems to draw out the most fans as “THE CHAMPIONSHIP”, that seems to cause so much mixing, matching, confusion, and splitting debate and controversy, to the extent that fighters themselves become disgruntled?
The most recent situation that has arisen is the impending UFC 160 co-main event bout that pits former champ Junior Dos Santos against one of the biggest underdogs, and most underrated punchers in the division’s history, Mark Hunt. Junior, who has his first fight back from a devastating 5 round beating at the hands of now 2 time UFC Champ Cain Velasquez, and Mark Hunt, who bolsters a 4 fight win streak, his most recent a jaw shattering finish of Stefan Struve, seemingly are on two different trajectories in their race to claim the gold. It’s been known for quite some time, that a win for Junior here would garner his a rematch with Velasquez. And even the original opponent to be, Alistair Overeem seemed to be on the same path, even though he too was coming off of a TKO loss to Antonio Silva. So as Mark Hunt would replace an injured Overeem it was highly thought, even from Dana White himself, that a win over JDS would also garner Mark Hunt a title shot. Well with 3 weeks before the big showdown at UFC 160 with these four monsters, Cain vs Bigfoot and JDS vs Hunt, it seems that Hunt is slowly being pushed out of the title picture for another heavyweight in question….Roy Nelson? At the UFC 159 post fight press conference, questions began swirling and the suggestion of Nelson facing a top contender after making quick work of Cheick Kongo. The suggestions were Daniel Cormier and Mark Hunt, the latter, should he beat JDS could face Nelson…….wait a minute…does anyone see this as a bit backwards?
Hunt recently took to Twitter to vent his frustration. Let’s just say that the “Super Samoan” is none too pleased, and who can blame him really? Imagine you’re Mark Hunt, you step in for an injured fighter for a huge shot at taking on the former UFC Heavyweight Champion, who is clearly the #1 contender in the division, with his only loss in the UFC coming in his most recent fight at UFC 155. What sense does it make for Mark Hunt to beat a clear cut #1 contender to the title, to turn around and, rather than fight for the title, fight a guy who is was ranked middle of the pack, who just beat a guy who wasn’t even in the top 10? Suffice it to say, if Mark Hunt beats JDS at UFC 160, he has by far earned his shot. If they want to give Big Country that big of a push, they should pit him with Daniel Cormier or even the winner of Werdum vs Noguiera.
Just to give you an idea of how wacky things can be, lets take a look at the trajectory of the last 5 UFC Heavyweight Champions, see who they’ve fought and how many times in order to claim the gold, then you can formulate your own opinion on the matter. Some have done more, and some have done a lot less than what someone like Mark Hunt has currently done. We also have to take into consideration the landscape along with the level of talent during the runs of each of these individuals. This excludes Interim Champions,
UFC HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP FIGHT PATH
1. CAIN VELASQUEZ : Denis Stojnic-> Cheick Kongo-> Ben Rothwell-> Antonio Noguiera->Brock Lesnar->CHAMP
2. JUNIOR DOS SANTOS: Fabricio Werdum-> Stefan Struve-> Mirko Flipovic-> Gilbert Yvel-> Gabe Gonzaga->Roy Nelson-> Shane Carwin-> Cain Velasquez-> CHAMP
3.BROCK LESNAR: Heath Herring-> Randy Couture-> CHAMP
4. RANDY COUTURE: loses LHW Title->Tim Sylvia-> CHAMP
5. TIM SYLVIA: Tra Telligman-> Assuerio Silva-> Andrei Arlovski-> CHAMP
MARK HUNT’S PATH: Chris Tuchscherer->Ben Rothwell-> Cheick Kongo-> Stefan Struve->Junior Dos Santos
So seeing this laid out, where do you think Mark Hunt stands if he beats Junior…..for God’s sake give the man his due already.