When the news hit my Twitter feed that Cain Velasquez was forced out of his title defense against grappler extraordinaire Fabricio Verdum, I wasn’t pleased. Even in my sadness, I couldn’t imagine how ol’ Dana White felt when he heard the news. He had built up this launch event in Mexico around a star with ‘Brown Pride’ emblazoned across his chest, and now Mr. Pride was forced to the sidelines? I wonder who had to bear the brunt of that outburst… Who do you replace your hulking Mexican Superstar with? A portly Samoan kickboxer, that’s who! The Heavyweight title picture hasn’t exactly been electric during Cain’s reign and that’s mostly due to his all-out dominance. Still, we haven’t been treated to a Heavyweight title tilt worth it’s weight in quite some time.
So with the injection of Mark Hunt’s iron fists and adamantium chin, can we expect another five round classic akin to his scrap with Bigfoot Silva? Maybe, but all I know is, the curse on the plodding Heavyweight title picture may finally be lifted Saturday night south of the border.
How to you spice up a heavyweight booking that is on the ropes? Toss in the ageless, diet-less Mark Hunt! Ever since his resurgence in the UFC where he has been crackin’ skulls (literally) and takin’ names, fans have clamored for Hunto to get a shot at the big Gold. Finally, due to unfortunate circumstances, Hunt will get his chance to be the Baddest Man on the Planet Saturday night.
Oddly enough, his opponent, Fabricio Verdum is an ace at the one thing that Hunt doesn’t necessarily excel at, grappling. If Verdum took this thing to the ground and worked a choke, I bet it could end in one round. On the bright side, Verdum has become pretty damn confident in his striking over the last few years and he may just risk standing with Hunto for an exchange or two. That’s all that Mark needs, one exchange, one punch, one nonchalant walk-off KO.
Though, there is some concern walking into this thing with Hunt. He was oddly withdrawn in an interview with Ariel Helwani this week in Mexico. He said something “outside of fighting” was troubling him and that he “didn’t care” what happened Saturday night. Now in a world of Russell Wilson-esque coach speak and positive media attitudes, this struck me as disconcerting. Would we be getting the walking wrecking ball version of Hunt? Or the uninterested, lose so Sean McCorkle, Hunt that we thought had disappeared years ago.
Hunt appears to be in better spirits and says the issue has been resolved, so hopefully he will unleash his calming brutality come fight time.
Fabricio Verdum has become the adopted son of Mexico leading up to UFC 180, but Mark Hunt is the overwhelming fan favorite in the MMA blogosphere. His underdog story, fuzzy physique, and penchant for violence makes him almost a caricature of MMA as a whole. Can he really win the biggest MMA organization’s ultimate prize? Let’s break that down…
This fight can go three ways:
1. Verdum grinds out a decision on the cage and on the mat.
2. Verdum aggressively works a submission early and Hunt taps.
3. Mark Hunt knocks Fabricio Verdum into Cancun and walks away pondering where he can find his next churro.
I see the likelihood of this trio of outcomes as about equal. The one I WANT the most? Obviously, for my life to be fulfilled, I NEED to see Mark Hunt become a UFC (Interim) Champion. Fabricio Verdum is a challenge, but what hasn’t Hunto overcome since he was reintroduced to the MMA scene? I’ll be watching Saturday night for Mark Hunt to get his chance. His chance to land one devastating punch on Verdum’s chin. His chance to become a UFC Champion. His chance to become a combat sports legend.