New Zealand-born mixed martial artist Mark Hunt has lost his bid to become the UFC interim heavyweight champion.
A knee to the jaw knocked out Hunt in the second round of his fight against Brazilian Fabricio Werdum.
The fight took place in Mexico City in front of a sellout crowd of over 20,000 people, and was considered to be the biggest event in New Zealand combat sport since David Tua fought Lennox Lewis for the world boxing heavyweight championship in 2000.
Hunt dominated the early stages of the fight, knocking Werdum three times to the canvas. However, he was reluctant to engage the Brazilian jujitsu black belt on the ground.
Hunt took the fight at late notice after heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez withdrew from the card due to a knee injury.
Hunt lost 21kgs in the three weeks leading up to the fight in order to make the 120kg limit.
The drastic weight loss and limited time to acclimate to the high altitude venue meant the odds were stacked against him.
Prior to this fight, Hunt had enjoyed a run of success which saw him win four of his last fights by knockout.
Interviewed by MMAfighting.com‘s Ariel Helwani, Hunt said that he faced “personal family issues leading up to the fight” and that there “are troubled waters in my house”. He also said he “didn’t really care what happened” during the fight.
Hunt recently turned 40 and is a popular figure with fight fans in New Zealand, Australia and in Japan where he made his name fighting in the K1 championship in the early 2000’s.
The fight was also trending at number one on Twitter, with fans posting messages of support for Hunt.
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