Hunt’s fight against Stefan Struve at UFC 146 remains next challenge
Earlier this month, when news broke that Alistair Overeem tested positive for elevated testosterone levels, putting his title shot against Junior dos Santos at UFC 146 in jeopardy, Hunt fans took to Twitter to urge White to consider the New Zealander as a replacement. The #RallyForMarkHunt hashtag was created, and actually gained quite a bit of traction around the world.
Hunt, fans argued, was as worthy as anyone of getting a shot at dos Santos should Overeem wind up not getting a license for the fight. (He appears before the Nevada State Athletic Commission on April 24, likely to attempt to explain his elevated testosterone levels, and to see if he’ll get his license.) Hunt has won three straight since losing his UFC debut, a submission loss to Sean McCorkle at UFC 119. Since then, he has a Knockout of the Night win over Chris Tuchscherer, a decision win over Ben Rothwell and an upset knockout win against Cheick Kongo in February in Japan.
But on Saturday at the UFC on Fuel TV: Gustafsson vs. Silva post-fight press conference in Sweden, White put an end to Hunt fans’ hopes and it appears Hunt’s fight against Stefan Struve on the same May 26 card will stay in place.
“It ain’t gonna happen,” White said. “Mark Hunt has to fight one of the top guys – you don’t just jump into a title shot. This fight with Struve is a good fight for him. IF he beats Struve, then yeah, he’ll start fighting some of the top heavyweights in the world.”
But White also said even though the assumption would be that anyone would love a last-minute shot at a UFC title, putting Hunt in as a potential Overeem replacement might be akin to throwing him to the wolves.
“In reality, it’s not fair to Mark Hunt, either, to put him right in there with Junior dos Santos,” White said. “(He should) work his way up and if he beats Struve, he’ll fight somebody in the top five.”
After hearing of White’s comments at Saturday’s news conference in Stockholm, Hunt replied on his Twitter account, saying: “Well there it is we have lost this battle but there still remains a war at hand, MANY SHALL FALL we shall endure.”
Just what might happen to dos Santos’ title fight on the all-heavyweight main card remains to be seen. The UFC is waiting to see if Overeem gets a license this month. But White has already said the co-main event top contenders fight between Frank Mir and Cain Velasquez also will remain on the card, effectively shutting down the possibility either of them would be elevated into Overeem’s spot.