Last weekend at UFC on FUEL 8, Mark Hunt put on the best performance of his UFC career by stopping seven-foot Dutch monster Stefan Struve with an equally monstrous left hand, sending him crashing to the canvas and coming away with the KO victory.
Hunt recently Tweeted, “I am in the top ten in the world last I checked I wasn’t even good enough to be in the UFC”. Obviously, Hunt didn’t listen to naysayers who repeatedly counted him out. Having a six-fight losing streak and an overall record of 9-7, one could see where this criticism is coming from, but that losing streak didn’t come by losing to schmucks. Yet after taking out a top contender in Struve, and currently riding a four-fight win streak, Hunt is certainly building a case for himself as being the heavyweight fighter to watch for. Only one of Hunts UFC wins came by decision, while his other three came by of TKO/KO. So after winning “Knockout of the Night” honors against Struve, we again ask ourselves, what’s next for the “Super Samoan”?
Coming from a striking background and having had experience in K-1, it should come as no surprise that Hunt is, well, a head hunter, much pun intended. Now having said that, it would be logical that since the UFC is embarking on an excitement-first type strategic campaign, or at least stronger than before, then it stands to reason to have Hunt’s next opponent be a fighter who also leans towards favoring a striking-heavy game plan. With that in mind, let’s take a look at who can potentially be next for Hunt.
First there is Pat Barry. Barry also has an extensive striking background and is the type of fighter that doesn’t immediately shoot in on a double-leg when he’s stunned during a striking exchange. Barry is coming off an exciting second-round knockout of Shane Del Rosario. A bout with Hunt could turn out to be one of the most exciting fights of the year.
Next there is Shane Carwin. I realize that Carwin has an extensive background in wrestling, however, looking at his record, particularly in the UFC, he rarely takes an opponent down and all of his wins came by TKO or KO. Therefore, Carwin might feel inclined to stand and bang with Hunt. If Hunt stuns Carwin at anytime during that bout, that may hinder Carwin’s ability to complete a takedown and possibly be on the receiving end of one of the many KOs he handed out during his undefeated run. This is the worst case scenario for Carwin, but it can happen, and if it does, Hunt may very well be able to snatch a victory over a former interim champion and former top-five UFC heavyweight.
Lastly there is Lavar Johnson. Johnson is coming off a loss to Brendan Schaub, and a rather boring one at that. He was held down for what felt like ten rounds and Schaub’s rudimentary guard passing game basically kept him from advancing his position much. We can pretty much assume Johnson isn’t exactly licking his chops to face a decent grappler, and it’s not like Johnson will be pulling off any slick ankle picks either. With his aggressive brawling style and poor takedown defense, Johnson may be the perfect opponent for Hunt.
If the UFC wants to continue putting on exciting “fun fights” with lesser emphasis on legitimate ranking significance, then let’s take it an run with it and have Hunt fight one of the fighters mentioned above. After all, this is combat sports entertainment right?