Mark Hunt says UFC 200 opponent Brock Lesnar 'probably should have stayed in retirement
When Mark Hunt received word he had been booked for a UFC 200 fight with Brock Lesnar, his first reaction was, „Great idea!” For him, though, and definitely not for Lesnar.
„I thought he was retired,” Hunt told MMAjunkie on Monday. „I thought he was sick – but yeah, apparently not.
„I thought it was a great idea. It was great news about Brock coming back, but he probably should have stayed in retirement.”
As officials announced on Monday, Hunt (12-10-1 MMA, 7-4-1 UFC) and former heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar (5-3 MMA, 4-3 UFC), a current WWE star who hasn’t fought in the octagon since 2011, meet in UFC 200’s pay-per-view co-headliner on July 9 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
Hunt, who’s No. 10 in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA heavyweight rankings, is the first opponent for Lesnar since he announced his retirement in 2012 following a title loss to Cain Velasquez and a subsequent knockout defeat to Alistair Overeem, as well as a years-long battle with diverticulitis.
WWE officials say this is a „one-off” opportunity for Lesnar, who will return to the WWE ring following the landmark UFC 200 event. And though the fight is likely to do little to bolster Hunt’s ranking, it was an opportunity he couldn’t really pass up, he said.
„It’s a big fight,” Hunt said. „It doesn’t do anything for my ranking, but Brock’s a superstar sportsman, so I’m looking forward to the match. It’s going to be exciting.
„Yeah, I don’t think it does anything for my ranking at all, but Brock is such a big name in the world of fighting. But this isn’t pro wrestling. This is real fighting. If you don’t come prepared, you’re going to get hurt. It doesn’t do anything for my ranking, and I’m not going to make a big deal after the fight about a title shot because Brock hasn’t been in the octagon for like 10,000 years or whatever. I thought he was retired. But he came back to the UFC, and I’ve got my party hat on.”
As far as return fights, Lesnar could have certainly found easier options. The 2000 NCAA Division I national wrestling champion has the edge on the ground, but despite insistences that the 38-year-old doesn’t like getting hit, prolific striker Hunt doesn’t quite see it that way.
„He’s a former champion of the world, and he’s always up for playing the punch-in-the-face game,” said Hunt, who’s registered nine knockouts in 12 career MMA wins. „It’s good.
„I think Brock is a real competitor. … I have a lot of respect for him. He got the world title in what, three fights? That’s amazing. But this isn’t pro wrestling; this is real fighting. I was born in the trenches. My foundation is super strong, especially with all the wars I’ve been in. This is another one that’s probably not going to last very long.”
Hunt said he had remained in camp and was training diligently awaiting the call from UFC officials about his next fight. The recent launch of the MMA Academy Australia, which is designed to help aspiring fighters avoid „bad management and crooks,” has also kept his mind occupied.