Picture it: Saitama, March 2013. Thirty-eight-year-old slugger Mark Hunt has improbably battled his way to a three-fight win streak in the UFC, and is booked to face Stefan Struve, who stands 14 inches taller than him, and is on an impressive four-fight victory run of his own.
The MMA Gods were angry that night, my friend. By the time that Hunt and Struve stepped into the cage, fans at the Saitama Super Arena had suffered through 24 consecutive rounds without a finish — eight straight decision fights, half of which were so close that the judges didn’t all agree on who had won. It would take a miracle to save this card. Or maybe, just a beefy Samoan who knew how to exploit Struve’s maddening inability to use his range.
Hunt spent the first two rounds wearing Struve down — at times even out-grappling (!) the Dutch submission specialist — and was up two rounds to zip on the Official CagePotato Scorecard going into round three. Though both men were clearly fading in the final frame, Hunt was still able to throw heavy shots while Struve increasingly had trouble keeping his hands up. Over and over again, Struve allowed Hunt to walk into his range and throw bombs. An exchange of leather that began with Hunt on the retreat actually ended with Struve getting stunned, and Hunt waded forward for one final onslaught, shattering Struve’s jaw with a sledge-hammer left hook that put Skyscraper on his ass. Hunt walked off about five seconds before the fight was officially stopped. The power of suggestion, I guess. The knockout lifted the storm-clouds at the Super Arena, which allowed this to happen.
Hunt is now on a four-fight win streak, with three of those wins by KO/TKO, and will face former UFC heavyweight champ Junior Dos Santos in the co-main event of UFC 160 this Saturday. Will Hunt be able to pull off another dramatic upset? And considering that he was previously on a losing streak that lasted nearly five years before his current run of success, would a win against Dos Santos mark the greatest career comeback in MMA history?